Clocking in at around maybe 30 minutes of game time, Serena is a short explorational point-and-click adventure title from the developer Senscape. Released as a free title, this is effectively a glorified tech demo, created to show off the engine used in their upcoming crowd-funded game, Asylum.
The premise is simple. “A man sits in a distant getaway cabin waiting for his wife Serena. How long has it been? Where is she? Things in the cabin evoke memories, and the husband comes to a disturbing realization…”
With over 40 contributors providing their wit and talents, and described by the developers as a (twisted) love letter to the adventure gaming community, this is certainly an impressive sounding title. Unfortunately, the game itself – while not necessarily a bad game per say – failed to live up to the supposed pedigree of the developers, and I walked away feeling unimpressed by the experience.
To be fair, I was originally quite positive about the title despite its faults – if not for the actual game itself, then at the very least for the premise, and for what they have tried to achieve. However, having had some time to reflect (and me being the skeptical bastard that I am), I am sad to report that the game have left me with a rather sour taste in my mouth. The whole project just felt too much to me like one big collaborative marketing campaign, designed to provide opportunistic self-promotion for a bunch of small unknown and unproven indie companies, fronted by talents with dubious track records.
Serena is currently available as a free download on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux, with iOS and Android versions still to come at a later date.
- Attention to details. A lot of seemingly unrelated little details have been added to the environment, giving the game and its characters an air of mystery.
- Ambiguous ending. While it did feel to me like lazy pretentious writing on the developer’s part, it does open the game up for interesting player interpretations. In fact, I can go as far to say I had more fun reading forum discussions than I had playing the actual game itself.
- Ambiguous writing. The predictably vague story I felt gave the game an illusion of depth which perhaps really wasn’t there.
- Uninspired gameplay and story that seeks to emulate recent titles of the genre, but fails to the strike the same emotional impact.
- Does not live up to the promise of “an extremely depressive haunting story that will challenge the players’ intellect (and temerity)”. This game provided zero challenge – a completely linear title with the only gameplay consisted of literally clicking on every single clickable item multiple times.