Seum: Speedrunners from Hell PC Review

SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell is like Doom (2016) meets Super Meat Boy with some puzzle elements sprinkled on top. Crazy fast-paced first-person action platforming based around short, addicting challenges that rely on instant resetting, high precision, and puzzle solving. Pop in some heavy metal, set the game in Hell, and have a story about a trucker who must use his newly acquired demon’s arm to navigate through the depths of the damned realms in order to recover his lost beer and you have it all. What’s not to love? I’ve always been a fan of watching speed running and I tune into every Games Done Quick event there is but it always seemed so out of reach; an impossible task to break into as it requires insane accuracy and frame-perfect timing. SEUM let’s you feel that awesome by allowing you to discover your own speedy way to the exit without being impossible. As you cut corners or find alternate ways of navigating a stage to cut down on time with each try you feel a great sense of accomplishment and once a difficult level is finally beaten, it’s enough to make you throw out the devil’s horns or even play a lick on the old air guitar.

Rings

Starting out with simple platforming, throwing fireballs to activate lanterns which manipulate platforms/hazards, and jumping through rings; SEUM starts off teaching the basics and has a nice incline in difficulty. Every so often a new ‘power’ is introduced allowing new manoeuvrability such as teleportation, flying, or creating platforms etc. The mechanics of each new ability is explored deeply in the levels containing them, as the player must perfect their control of each one. Then, later down the line, things get seriously difficult fun when stages start to demand the seamless integration of several at once. Flitting from platforming, to rewinding time, straight into teleportation, and then flying would look impossible to a newcomer but the steady learning curve allows players to practice as they go and overcome hopeless-looking obstacles in the blink of an eye. Every level is completely unique, containing its own gimmicks and either teaches the player something new or challenges their mastery of certain techniques. From aiming fireballs across bounce pads, in order to activate far off lanterns, to falling through rings as if playing Pilotwings, to making way through a labyrinth whilst blocking incoming projectiles by creating platforms, SEUM has it all.

Alternate or hidden paths are around every corner and planning the optimal route is mandatory to come close to finishing those later arenas. It all comes down to planning, testing, and execution in the space of just a few seconds. However, some people may be put off by the first-person view as it can often make jumping around corners and through obstacles difficult to do. It certainly can be annoying when you’re not sure how far out from a wall you need to be to jump around it but with the instant resetting there’s no problem if a stage takes a few extra tries to master the details. Plus, if you’re an old school Quake/Doom player, or you don’t mind platforming without being able to see the character such as in Half Life 2, you’ll have no trouble here.

Bounce Pad

Consisting of 9 layers of hell, each with 11 levels that can take anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour to master; SEUM has a lot of fun to offer. Especially since each level not only has a time needed to complete it but also a secondary time, that can be bested for that extra challenge, as well as a hidden can of beer that implores a player’s deepest gaming instincts and profound knowledge of hide-and-seek. Leaderboards are also there, of course, for those complete maniacs who want to strive for the top 10 positions by breaking a stage down to it’s very core and saving every precious millisecond – the true speedrunners.

SEUM delivers hours of entertainment, frustration, and the perfect bite-sized trials to hit, not just the ‘one more try’ feeling, but instead the ‘damn I was close and I won’t stop before beating this thing’. Time simply disappears into it and even though the early release version had some minor problems, I’d recommend it to anybody with a mouse and keyboard. There’s really not much else that can be said besides ‘go try it for yourself’ because I’ve never played a game quite like it. It seems like such an obvious concept but has been artfully crafted through a blend of other interesting genres to create a new experience that I can only hope to see more of in the future. So shotgun a beer, turn up the metal, zone out, and run like hell.

8 out of 10