Author: Andrew Hill
Released: December 2nd 2007
The night has grown dark and cold by the time you arrive at the fortress city of Serengrove. Wind and dark shadows are all that occupy the empty streets in absence of the usual bustling activity. The fortress walls stand unguarded, merchant’s wares lie abandoned at the Western Gates, and the foul stench of decay lingers in the cool midnight breeze.
Serengrove is not an experience that takes itself too seriously, instead coming across like an old, b-movie horror flick which has been turned into a game, very much relying on a combination of jump scares and loud noises. The setting is an old Tudor city tucked away behind tall, thick fortress walls and sticks very closely to this theme and aesthetic style right the way through, making use of custom assets to ensure authentic visuals. Key points for geometry and decorative objects have been hit to portray the city but the repetitive design does soon become obvious, which tends to follow the clean and orderly approach as other buildings. More personalised touches might have helped avoid this issue, much like the stable or tower stairway with that neat lighting effect from floating braziers. This is a relatively minor point however since scenery does look good and works well enough for all intents and purposes. Stylised use of coloured lighting does help distract from this, using an emphasis on the rich blue shadows to provide that edge with spots of warm orange candlelight and pinkish hints to windows, driving home that low budget, mystical atmosphere.
The core features which really make this and enjoyable romp comes directly from the cheesiness of its presentation across the map, made obvious from the beginning through an introductory speech spoken in a dark cliché manner. There is also a particularly hilarious yet very strange deer head addition which almost felt like something pulled straight out of Evil Dead. This creates a charming experience along with the visuals, but may not appeal to certain players and will otherwise be disappointing. Beyond these aspects, gameplay does not offer anything very compelling by sticking to a linear progression, besides for the moment other buildings open up, with objectives primarily consisting in finding levers and gunning down a bunch of hungry zombies roaming the streets. Combat is by no doubts an easy and simple task. Enemies don’t provoke much resistance and rarely stray away from the various types of walking dead; the more prominent ones unfortunately being bullet sponges. Part way through, other demons do pop in to say hello, however their futile attempts don’t provoke any change in difficulty. Doesn’t quite help that players will be tripping over more ammo and health than is ever required.
The cheesy b-movie horror style through its visuals and presentation help to create plenty of charm here. However the combat doesn’t provide much of a challenge and focuses too much zombies which quickly becomes repetitive..