Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem Review – Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold
Hot on the Heels of Serious Sam 4’s release on the next-gen consoles comes Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem, adapted from a fan mod by Techland, converted into a full-on expansion by Croteam. Despite the harsh climes of Siberia being bitterly cold, Serious Sam well knows the air will be so heated with rocket fire and fresh gunsmoke that he won’t need to bother wearing more than his trademark T-shirt and jeans as he tracks down the traitorous General Brandt to settle the score.
It’s clear from the start as Sam steps off the dock that Siberian Mayhem will be immediately familiar to those who’ve played Serious Sam 4. There’s the same upgrade tree that allows Sam to perform brutal melee takedowns or dual-wield two AK47s like the beast that he is when you collect enough purple globes. There’s the same general roster of baddies like the headless, screaming, suicide bombers; teleporting vampires and other Mental monsters. This is why the first level feels a little overly familiar, but it turns out that’s just easing you back in.
Though much is the same, there are plenty of new additions to keep things fresh. One of the most fun parts is where Sam commandeers a tank, which naturally has a nitrous oxide booster in its engine that can be used to quick avoid incoming missiles.
As well as vehicles, the new weapons are great fun. There’s an energy crossbow that functions like a more high-powered sniper rifle, capable of perforating foes with headshots at long range. There’s an electricity gun that puts even the minigun to shame with its sheer destructive power. Best of all, there’s a literal cannon that fires massive cannonballs in a straight line across the ground , rolling forward and crushing anything in its path, and it’s fun using it to cut great swathes through waves of monsters. Equally, it’s a joy riding a snowmobile allowing icy roads, mowing down zombie-like mutants in the process.
Not only are there new weapons and vehicles but there are different aspects to the terrain that makes things more interesting. Periodically, some arenas have pads that cause Sam and any pursuing monsters to bounce up into the air, making battles even more chaotic. There’s also icy surfaces that can actually work in your favour when you get the hang of moving on them. The giant bulls, an absolute bane of existence in SS4, can be lured onto the ice at points, causing them to slip and slide around like they’re at a water park, making them much easier to kill.
There are some exciting boss battles that really show off the ice-glazed beauty of the frigid Siberian surroundings. I particularly enjoyed shooting a giant cyclopean yeti in its (single) eye with the energy crossbow as it threw giant boulders at Sam to the strains of operatic Metal music.
There’s a couple very simple puzzles scattered about, like using a crane to lift crates, allowing Sam to progress or access hidden goodies, but these are few and far between. Siberian Mayhem is just as much focused on the action as Serious Sam 4 is, and possibly more so.
Though there are some rather claustrophobic levels in an oil refinery early on in Sam’s adventure, where the game really shines is on wide-open city streets or fields. There are very few titles that really give you that feeling of shock and awe when you see vast armies of monsters filling up the horizon before descending on you in a swarm. This very unique feeling of facing down overwhelming numbers like an absolute badass is absolutely present in Siberian Mayhem.
The biggest criticism you could probably level at Siberian Mayhem is that it’s over fairly quickly – a brief five levels with each clocking in at an average of around an hour if you explore the side missions. Just as I’d gotten a full complement of weapons and a decent grasp on how to use them, everything was over. There aren’t quite so many funny gags because Sam spends a lot of time on his own without any comic foils to work off. It takes Sam two-thirds of the way through the game before he meets a cast of allies to battle beside and, unlike SS4, he doesn’t really get enough time to bond with them. Having said that though, there’s a fun cultural interchange between Sam and the crazy alcoholic freedom fighters he joins up with.
Siberian Mayhem is an entertaining little jaunt for fans of Serious Sam 4. It’s a quick five levels to run through, and I wish it had been a little longer, but for all the new weapons and vehicles it introduces, it keeps the familiar Serious Sam formula fresh and fun without overstaying its welcome. Siberia doesn’t seem an obvious destination for those looking to escape the seasonal bleakness this Winter, but for fans of pulse-pounding action, Siberian Mayhem hits the sweet spot (with a cannonball).
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC(Reviewed), ; Publisher: Devolver Digital; Developer: Croteam, Timelock Studio; Players: 1; Released: January 25th, 2022;
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Serious Sam 4: Siberian Mayhem provided by the publisher.