Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is exactly what the title of this game implies… a curveball in the Serious Sam series.
Developed by Swedish team Crackshell – in association with original Serious Sam developer, Croteam – and published in 2017 by Devolver Digital, this is an overhead shooter with pixel-based, retro-style graphics. And it is bloody brilliant! Better even than the Serious Sam games it is based upon.
Bogus Detour can be played either single-player campaign or survival, or online or split-screen multiplayer. In the single-player campaign game Sam is basically completing objectives to make it to the next level, all the while blasting enemies and collecting as much weaponry and bonuses as he can find along the way. The ‘survival’ game is Sam taking on ever harder waves of enemies in an arena.
Thankfully new weapons come thick and fast, and upgraded versions of them start appearing as Sam increases levels too. Sam is awarded stars for levelling-up, and can also collect them, which allow him to upgrade various traits and abilities via a menu screen. It’s worth noting that there are three different upgrade categories (combat, survival, and weaponry), which is easy to miss initially. In-game the weapons are chosen via a ring menu and the mousewheel (or gamepad, depending on how you have it set up). Mouse and keys is the way to play it, though.
The main obstacle to progress are keycards, which you have to find to gain access to certain doors. They are usually being carried by a fairly tough enemy, or are guarded behind a door, so take some effort to acquire. Once you get a keycard, though, it unlocks not just a door, but usually a whole new can of worms, in terms of enemies. Groups of particular types of enemies are always placed in certain areas, but there are also solar-powered ‘generators’ that spawn more. Once you’ve cleared an area of enemies, and destroyed all the generators, it at least stays cleared, giving Sam a bit of breathing space and a chance to backtrack to find unused health packs.
On normal difficulty Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour is a stern test of anyone’s shooting skills. How many lives Sam has is denoted by how many pairs of sunglasses he has, and it’s game over when he loses them all. Thankfully the game autosaves at certain points, so if you lose a life it puts you back at the last save point. The downside is that – if you quit the game and restart – you can only restart from the beginning of a level, which is frustrating because the levels from two onwards are quite long.
Graphically, Bogus Detour is fantastic. The 2D pixel art in the game is a work of real artistry. Everything moves smoothly and all the sprites are beautifully-drawn and have characteristic behaviours. Bogus Detour looks and plays a bit like a Capcom arcade game from the late ’80s, and I mean that as a high compliment. I cannot fault the presentation overall.
And – other than having to restart a level from the beginning – I really can’t fault the gameplay either. Blasting through Bogus Detour is great fun from start to finish. Whether you’ve played the other Serious Sam games or not, I highly recommend that you give this a try.