Seum: Speedrunners from Hell lets you know what kind of game it is right off the bat. Satan has stolen Marty’s beer and taken it off to Hell, and that just won’t do. Luckily, Marty is “borrowing” Satan’s arm infused with demonic energy, and tracking him back from whence he came. That’s his beer, after all.
That’s all you need in the way of exposition to get into the true meat of Seum. This is a fast-paced first-person platformer with an overly addictive “one more try” feel. Speed merged with precision in bite-sized levels is an infectious combination. That along with no-loading re-spawns makes it so you never have an excuse to stop trying.
Game Mechanics and Level Design
Every level has a minimum time limit you must reach (Speedrunners IS right in the title), with leaderboards accompanying every level. Because the levels are so short, with most coming in under 30 seconds, you’ll often find yourself vying for the tougher “Uber Skull” times as well. Nailing together the perfect string of moves to reach that goal as the seconds tick away is as exhilarating as any platformer, 2-D or otherwise.
Seum manages to keep your interest by ensuring no two levels are the same. New traps, new layouts, and new powers are constantly introduced. That arm from Satan allows some nifty tricks to be pulled off. Anti-gravity, Teleport, and Spawn-platform are self-explanatory, and Switch allows Marty to back up to a point you pre-determine. The powers are acquired by finding orbs in the levels, usually only one per level and only ever one active at a time.
These powers are constantly used in new and unexpected ways. Teleport may sound simple, but imagine the possibilities when you discover you can pop out in the middle of the trip. That’s just one of the basic tricks learned throughout the game. You’re consistently challenged in new ways, with the levels introducing far more complexity as time goes on. Your knowledge of the ins and outs of every power will be tested by the end.
There’s plenty of replay value here as well. Going for the best times is intoxicating, especially with the game showing you your friend’s times. There’s also few things more exciting than when the game alerts you that your time was “Top 10” in the world. Throw in the hidden beer cans on every stage, giving you a new perspective and challenge, and you could spend hours with this game.
Unfortunately, Seum’s journey to console isn’t without a couple of warts. A few levels can take the framerate down, which is pretty unacceptable after you’ve almost completed a difficult section on your 15th attempt. The game even crashed on my Xbox One twice. More frustrating is the translation to gamepad controls. While obviously something you begin to overcome after a couple levels, it’s painfully obvious this game was made with mouse-and-keyboard in mind. Thankfully, developer Pine Studio had the foresight to include a “slo-mo aim.” You, your aim, and the timer all slow down to allow the precision shots to go down. It’s not the most elegant solution, but perhaps the only one available for such a speed dependent game.
It may not be the most revolutionary game, but Seum: Speedrunners from Hell is a whole lot of fun. I found myself entranced by its gameplay loop, and just wanted to see more and more content. It also houses one of the better final levels in recent memory, testing your mettle on everything you’ve learned throughout. You may not come here for the captivating world-building, but you will stay for the metal attitude, constant new tricks, and addictive platforming.
*****This review is based on an Xbox One review copy of the game provided by Pine Studio. Be sure to check out other reviews from Zack on his web site, which include his recent thoughts on “Observer”.*****