Did you enjoy the platforming sections that would feature in classic first person shooters? If yes, you’ll love SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell – a first person title that challenges you to complete a plethora of old-school platforming levels as quickly as possible. It’s fun and absolutely oozing with nostalgic vibes, though expect plenty of frustration as you work through each challenging layer of Hell…
There’s a very basic context to the whole ‘speed running through Hell’ scenario – you’re cast as a gruff trucker who has to blast through Hell in order to find his missing beer. That’s it. It actually fits in perfectly with the overall vibe of the game, something that borders on chaotic, insane and outright silly. It’s all a bit of fun though and it shows that SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell doesn’t try to take itself too seriously.
The overall humour of the game is distinctly old-school and cheesy too, with the game’s protagonist delivering tacky one liners that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from the mouth of genre veteran Duke Nukem. It’s actually kind of endearing and fits in well with the vibe of the game.
SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell tasks you with running, jumping and shooting fireballs as you make your way through the nine demonic layers of Hell as quickly as possible. It’s a fairly simple process, though the game makes sure that it’s never actually that easy by challenging you to make pixel-perfect jumps and quick reactions in order to survive.
You’ll unlock new abilities as you progress such as teleporting, platform creating and even time rewinding, with each new ability adding an extra bit of variety to the gameplay and bringing a distinct shift in level design. As you progress deeper through each layer of Hell the game gets more difficult, though your new abilities manage to even the odds for you a little. Most importantly though is that it makes sure the ‘get from point A to B quick’ gameplay never feels stale – level design is always sound, with each new stage bringing with it a new challenge typically worked around a particular gameplay mechanic.
SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell is clever in design, with the game having no real wrong way to play, put plenty of different ‘right’ ways. I’d complete a level by following what felt like a set route, but then find myself shaving seconds off my time by finding a hidden shortcut on my next attempt.
Some of these shortcuts aren’t necessarily bona fide legit shortcuts either; you’ll need to try saving those seconds by any means possible, so if you can pull of a sneaky jump to cut a corner then go for it. Sometimes you’ll save time through sheer luck too, though you’ll often find it difficult to repeat these feats. Still, there are plenty of genuine shortcuts to find and just by exploring each level you’ll find something new that might help you smash your personal best times.
There’s a lot on offer in SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell, with the game featuring over a hundred levels in total. Some of these levels are incredibly short, though some will last you quite awhile; whilst you’ll complete levels in super quick times eventually, you’ll spend so much time perfecting each manoeuvre that some levels will last close to hours before you manage to nail that perfect time. It’s great to have a wide range of stages to conquer, but the difficult nature of time chasing does require perseverance. There’s a lot of trial and error to the game and whilst improving your time is satisfying, the struggle to achieve your goal time can often feel a little overbearing. SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell will kick your ass a lot, so get ready to keep attempting the same thing over and over again.
Some of the difficulty comes down to the first person nature of the game. It’s often a little difficult to work out the exact distance of a jump, whilst being unable to see exactly where a platform ends can make hitting those precise jumps all the more awkward. It’s the same with the many hazards you come across – the amount of times I thought I had enough room to leap over a roaring saw only to find myself mutilated into bones and meat was ridiculous. There’s certainly a learning curve and when everything does click into place you’ll have a lot of fun hitting the mark with ease. The in-between learning process where you’re constantly plummeting to your death or getting impaled by spikes can be a pain though.
Each level has a set time you need to beat, a ‘domination’ time to beat (essentially a perfect run), and a hidden collectible beer to find. It’ll take some work and mastery before you manage to achieve everything in each level, but the reward is worth it as you’ll unlock extra stages to play through.
SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell also has online leaderboards that allow you to compare your best times with players around the world. Throughout my time with the game I never came even slightly close to conquering any of the top scores; some of the best times were ridiculous, but that’s the nature of a speed running game. Seeing the best times pop up whenever you beat a level does encourage you to give it another try though, something I found out over and over again…
The game’s aesthetic is reminiscent of classic first person shooters, with very Doom-esque flavoured environmental design mixed up with the gloomy look of the original Quake. Stylistically it looks like it could’ve come straight from the 90s, albeit a little prettier. I felt quite at home with the style and whilst it’s certainly no graphical marvel I appreciated how everything looked. The soundtrack is banging too, with fitting heavy metal riffs blasting through the pits of Hell.
SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell offers an enjoyable blend of old-school platforming mixed up with some tricky puzzling, all whilst challenging you to do it as quickly as possible. It’s never an easy experience, but it’s always satisfying – plus it’s got a hellish old-school vibe that’ll certainly appeal to first person shooter veterans, even if the game doesn’t technically feature any shooting…
It has a few flaws and the speed running nature of the game won’t appeal to everyone, but there’s certainly more to like about SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell than dislike. With plenty of levels to blast through and a slick old-school style, it’ll keep you hooked in for hours.
Developer: Pine Studio
Publisher: Headup Games
Release Date: 28/07/2016
Format(s): PC, Mac, Linux