Indie Quickie: SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell

SEUM

What is it and who made it? Pine Studio and Headup Games bring the pain in this hellacious speedrun platformer fashioned after old school corridor-style first-person shooters like Doom and Quake, and infused with hardcore heavy metal attitude.

What platforms is it on and how much does it cost? It’s currently on Steam for PC/Mac/Linux. A ticket to speedrunning hell will set you back $14.99. There’s a demo version as well, in case you’d like to have your ticket to hell come with an escape clause.

How much did we play? Between two to three hours. In that time I’ve completed 35 of 91 main stages, found 26 beer/bacon collectibles, discovered three hidden flag peaks, died 290 times, restarted 593 times, and made 621 attempts across the main level progression as well as the secondary endless survival mode, for a total completion percentage of 32%. My best endless run so far is 1250m, good for 117th place on the global leaderboard, which I’m pretty proud of considering I’m lucky to crack the top thousand players in the individual level speedrun leaderboards.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements, or other details you should know about? No bugs that I have come across yet. I guess I’ll just take this moment to reiterate that this game is hard. There’s a phony difficulty setting in the options menu that defaults at Hard, while attempts to lower the setting are met only by a taunting laugh from the devil himself–because there is no easy mode in hell, folks.

SEUM_2

Why should you play it?

    • Parkour of the Damned: The official Steam page description calls SEUM the bastard child of Quake 3 and Super Meat Boy, and that pretty much hits the nail on the head (though aesthetically it is more in line with Doom). This is one of those super-twitchy, hyper-sensitive, blink-and-you’ll-perish platformers in which maximizing every movement is key to slicing precious seconds (or more like fractions of a second) off the clock and avoiding insta-death as you barrel through the Devil’s gauntlet of spike traps, swinging axes, shifting walls, spinning sawblades, explosive mines, launch pads, and of course the ever-present sea of lava bubbling below, because there are no handrails in the underworld. Each level has a base time limit that needs to be eclipsed in order to progress to deeper floors on hell’s elevator. Just beating the bare minimum usually isn’t too tough, but your twitch muscles will need to be firing on all cylinders to have any hope of achieving the Uber Skull medals reserved for true speedrun champions. A keen eye helps too, as the well-designed maps often hide shortcuts, like breakable, false walls and hidden launch pads, as well as subtle opportunities to cut corners that are easy to overlook.

    • I’ve Got the Power: SEUM isn’t a first-person shooter in the traditional sense, but Marty’s (he’s the main player character by the way) ability to throw fireballs using his demonic arm (see the next paragraph for more details on the absurd story setup) calls upon similar twitch-aim reflexes. So in addition to sprinting along at hyper speed, you’ll have to left click to toss fireballs with careful precision at torch switches or transparent platforms that need to be hit in order to bring them into the physical realm, all without breaking stride. Certain levels also grant Marty secondary right-click powers, such as a blue teleport fireball that instantly warps you to whatever surface the ball comes in contact with, an anti-gravity hover ability that lets you increase or decrease elevation by hold-releasing the right mouse button, and a split power where you click to set an origin point, play forward into the level, and then click again to rewind to the origin. This game has a simple, straightforward gameplay hook that’s easy to grasp, but there are a lot of nuances to the mechanics for skilled speedrunners to master.

    • Beer Run: Marty’s sprint to hell all started one day when, while watching the big basketball game on the tube, Satan himself barged into his pad, lopped off one of his arms, and–most unforgivable of all–stole all of his beer. But that’s okay, because Marty returned the favor by going all rock star ninja on the Devil’s ass, cutting one of Lucifer’s arms off with a vinyl record and using it to replace his lost limb. Now he’s literally hell-bent on getting back all of his precious beer. That’s where you come in: somewhere hidden in each stage is a beer can collectible waiting to be returned to the fridge of its rightful owner. They’re totally optional, but collecting enough of them unlocks additional bonus stages, where the collectible of choice then becomes slices of sizzling bacon. Various other secrets lay hidden throughout the nooks and crannies of Satan’s obstacle course, and hunting for beers, Easter eggs, and other little goodies makes returning to previous stages a completely different experience since you can ignore the timer and take your time to explore and look around for what you might have missed when you hurtled by the first time around.

Parting Thoughts: Hot damn, SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell is one brutal, devilishly addictive speedrun platformer. It’s the type of game where you’ll literally find yourself leaning into your jumps, holding your breath, and clenching your butthole tight as the tension builds, with a strong sense of relief and reward kicking in when you finally nail that perfect run, timing every turn and jump dead on the money to narrowly avoid devastation on the way to the exit portal and an Uber Skull medal. You’ll die a lot for sure, but a quick tap of the R key instantaneously restarts the level, so you’re always too locked in to the moment at hand to become rage-quit frustrated. And I haven’t even talked about Endless mode yet. As fun and challenging as the main level progression is, I’ve become most addicted to the randomized endless runner maps where the only goal is to outrun a chasing meat grinder just to see how far you can make it without dying. Endless mode by itself is almost worth buying the game for if you ask me. The fact that there are a hundred core levels, online leaderboards, a separate speedrun mode (I haven’t tried it yet), and secrets galore is too irresistible of a package to pass up. I give SEUM a vicious head bang and two devil horns way up!

What is Indie Quickie? It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

Disclosure: A Steam code for SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!