GAME REVIEW | 'SEUM' Takes You to Hell and Back
Never in my life have I been more concerned with the latency on my wireless keyboard since I started playing SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell. Taking first-person puzzle solving and ramping up the speed to the max, this speedrunning game immediately drew me in with its sense of humor and fun design. Spanning around one hundred levels, the game gets progressively harder as you descend deeper into its depths. Come on a journey to hell with me and help me figure out if the insane toughness of those later levels crushes the game's pacing or simply changes its nature.
Combining the breakneck pace of speedrunning with first-person puzzle mechanics, SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell is easy to break into right away. This is greatly helped by the aesthetic set up in the game. Honestly, they could have skinned this with nearly anything and it would have made sense, but the humor they've put in here is endearing, especially at the start. Combining a heavy metal, trucker and hell theme, SEUM tonally makes me think of Doom more than anything else. Though, it's a little less tongue-in-cheek and throws goofy one-liners in there more like a Duke Nukem game.
As with any good puzzle game, SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell does the smart thing and lobs you some easy ones right up front. This eases you into the puzzle mechanics and introduces the various elements you'll be dealing with throughout your journey into hell. Progressing through the varied stages, these concepts quickly become complex and difficult to get just right. Even with this added complexity, the game continues to throw new elements at you well into the game, like special orbs that give you powers like floating and teleporting, keeping it feeling fresh throughout.
Each stage has three different awards that can be obtained by doing different things in your run. Every stage has a minimum time limit required to pass the stage, but you can also hit the domination time which usually requires a nearly perfect run. There is also a beer hidden in each stage for you to collect, which is quite often a lot harder to find than it sounds. Collecting all of these accolades in all ten stages of one floor unlocks a special super hard eleventh stage.
Time limits can be really tough, especially when trying to solve the puzzle that is the fastest path to the end of each stage. What's nice about SEUM is that, while you can't pass a stage if you get there late you can always feel out a stage at a slower pace, planning your breakneck run as you go. Once you have a good idea of what needs to be done, the real attempts can begin and this is where that perfect execution comes in strong. I wasn't kidding earlier when mentioning the latency on my wireless keyboard. Hitting the space bar and jumping even a fraction of a second later can really mess up a run if you're not accounting for it. Frustrating at times, this does add an extra element of concentration and practice required for beating some of the more intense levels.
One of my favorite things about the early parts of SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell is the incredibly quick pacing. It has you leaping through levels, solving them and making that perfect run in just a few tries. At a certain point, as the difficulty starts to increase, I began to struggle completing levels as quickly. Pixel-perfect platforming in first-person is difficult and I'm not especially practiced with a keyboard and mouse. Somehow, this actually didn't slow the pace of the game for me, in spite of what you might expect. Instead of blasting through levels, I started blasting through the same level trying for a time fast enough to pass to the next.
Starting out, I tried to collect everything on each stage, but quickly this became a bigger and crazier task that I soon abandoned. SEUM does a decent job at tricking you into thinking you know the proper way to go about completing a level when the true method is hiding just off camera. One good example was one where there were a series of narrow platforms to jump across, but if you look just below the initial island, there is an orb below that can let you float right to the goal.
- Fast-paced fun with some real difficulty
- Atmosphere could have been anything, but they chose well
- Stages generally leave you feeling accomplished
- Some stages dip just a toe over being unfairly hard
- Jokes get old after several restarts
- Maybe don't use wireless peripherals
First-person platforming games are really hard to nail. SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell may not be perfect, but it did enough right to really hook me from its funny theme to the difficulty ramp on the various stages. This descent into hell might not be for everyone, but if you like the rush of getting that perfect run, then SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell might just be the perfect game for you. Check out the video below to see me playing the first several stages. You can get SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell today for the PC, Mac and Linux.
Review code provided by Ted Brockwood of Calico Media