The Game Tutor Examines Seraph

When looking at screenshots I thought Seraph was yet another twin shooter, contra style game maybe with some Metroidvania thrown in for good measure… oh how wrong I was.
The best way to describe the game is a roguelike action shooter that plays out like a 2D game version of the film Equilibrium. The key game mechanics on show here is that aiming is always automatic allowing you to focus fire on your closest enemy or in some cases 2 at the same time when dual wielding. This then radically changes the feel of the game to be less about shooting and more about avoiding enemy attacks bullets and patterns that feel like a cross between Diablo, a bullet hell shooter and a spectacle fighter such as “The Devil May Cry.”

The game plays wonderfully and controlling Seraph is such as joy as you bound around the levels shooting and dashing. The game really does do an amazing job at making you feel incredibly good at playing it.
Another key mechanic is the game’s progressive difficulty setting. As you kill enemies and open chests you gain XP orbs. These let you advance your level but also fill up a meter that over time gradually increase the game’s difficulty setting. If you get hit this lowers the bar and decreases the rate in which the difficult increases. The game can be started in normal, Hard and Expert which start the difficulty at 1, 3 and 7 respectively. I personally found the game starting to get difficult around the 3.5/4 mark but if it is the absolute high scores you strive for then expert is where you must be.

To smooth this out however the game offers two progression systems. Every time you gain a level you can give yourself a blessing which gives you help in the game usually providing some sort of effect such as health regen after killing a stronger enemy or your double jump causing a mini explosion that causes holy damage. The other systems is in the shape of Oaths and Transmutations which can be purchased between playthroughs and offer either abilities or incremental stat increases. These boosts do however make a difference and carry over through each play session so each time you step back into the game you are generally that little bit stronger than last time. This really adds longevity to the game and made me want to keep playing.

There is also a challenge mode that changes every day and has a ranked leader board. This sets you a task such as survive as long as you can with a very rapidly expanding difficulty or kill 50 enemies as fast as you can. This is a fun little side mode I have enjoyed completing once a day albeit way worse than some of the best players out there.

Each floor which plays out much like other roguelikes such as The Binding of Isaac sees you either kill an elite demon or close 1 or more demon gates.. This works well but I did hope for a little more variety types and hopefully we will see more of this in the final game.
Weapon variety is pretty good as well with different weapons packing enough punch to warrant going out of your way to find the best one.

Visually the game is brimming with style. The enemy design is good and the effects are strong. The game moves at a blistering pace and looks wonderful to boot. The sound design is also outstanding and really stands up as one of the best action scores I have heard in the last few years. It is rare I would actually go out of my way to listen to a game’s soundtrack but this could very well be one of those times.

My only slight gripe is even as you go through the games different worlds the level design both visually and structurally rarely changes. There are a few room configurations such as a tall room with a ledge at the top with a gap into the next room above that seem to come up regularly and while a minor issue I did found myself beginning to correctly predict layouts in the design even after only a few hours play.

Overall however Seraph is one of the best action games I have played in a long time and is unbelievably satisfying to play. The auto aim gunplay makes you feel like a bad ass and the platforming and bullet dodging is incredibly satisfying. The game plays like a dream and with hopefully a little bit more varied content leading up to its full release Seraph is definitely one to look out for and pick up.