Title: Seraph

Platform: Steam, Windows

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Rougelite, Action Platformer

Players: Single player

Written by Bad Demoman 10th July 2016

Seraph is an Sidescrolling platformer by Dreadbit currently available on Steam's Early Access.  With a focus on acrobatic combat and a few Roguelite elements, it claims to be heavily skill based with a scaling difficulty level based on your accomplishments. Well, I’m always up for a reasonable challenge, so does Seraph deliver on these promises?

In Seraph, you play as an angelic being who is inhabiting the body of a human and has been imprisoned by humans. They are freed from their imprisonment only to discover the facility is completely overrun by demons. The Seraph must find her way out of her prison while eliminating the demon army’s ranks and rediscovering her forgotten past. So, in other words nothing new or interesting. The characters are all uninteresting and paper thin - Seraph wants to kill the demons. The demons want to kill Seraph and the Humans, and even though Seraph is the only thing opposing the demonic army, the Humans want to separate Seraph from her human host. But hey, it’s an action oriented game, perhaps the story isn’t the main focus and the gameplay will make up for it?

This is, unfortunately, not quite the case. Seraph touts itself as an acrobatic platformer, with a heavy focus on constant movement and “Gun Fu” like you may have seen in movies like Equilibrium. What this boils down to is holding the shoot button and moving back and forth as enemies pepper you with occasionally bullet hell-esque levels of fire. Seraph makes the decision to remove your ability to aim, and instead automatically locks on to nearby enemies, allowing you to focus on the movement. The issue with this is that the movement isn’t really strategic or deep enough to make a whole game. You have the ability to dash about, which makes you invincible to gun fire for the short duration of the dash. While darting all over the place raining down on your enemy with bullets is mildly amusing at first, it gets dull very quickly.

Seraph attempts to mix things up with a variety of different abilities and weapons available to you. While your miracle selection is very limited at first, as you level up and collect crafting materials you can unlock more. However, these don’t really add too much to the combat - perhaps with one miracle, you’ll stand far away from the enemy and launch an orb, whereas with another you’ll stand close to them and deploy something, but when your cooldown is used up you’re back to just walking back and forth and holding shoot.

Perhaps part of the issue is that Seraph make a pretty big deal of its difficulty, where the better you do, the harder it gets with better rewards. I’m not sure what metric it uses to measure how well you’re doing, it seems to be just how far you’ve progressed. But Seraphs difficulty just doesn’t impress me. This isn’t me saying “I’ve played harder games, I’m the best gamer ever!” etc. Infact, I die quite a lot in Seraph, and I really don’t feel like Seraph scales accordingly to my deaths. My issue is that Seraphs approach to difficulty seems to be making enemies tankier and flooding the screen with more danger. The strategy remains the same, no matter your miracles, your weapons or the difficulty. The whole thing just reminds me of a severely dumbed down Diablo on a 2D plane. Imagine Diablo with considerably less choice of powers, less impactful upgrades and generally less variety. And you can only play as the Demon Hunter. I hate playing Demon Hunter.

So, is Seraph worth tracking through its Early Access? I’d say maybe. Just not right now. The developers update frequently, and hopefully the added content will spice things up a bit. Seraph doesn’t deliver on any of its promises of a good level of difficulty OR skill-based combat that requires intense mechanical skill. It’s just a dull sidescroller. For all its flaunting of exciting, super slick Gun Fu action to rival a Hollywood movie, nothing really stands out, and while it has occasional moments of fun they don’t last. Perhaps with time and a bit more variety added, Seraph will be worth a look, but for now it doesn’t impress.

Written by,

Bad Demoman


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