Serena Review

Serena Review

Deeply Distrurbing.

Serena Review
Release Date
January 30, 2014

When Serena hit the Steam storefront, it was a surprise for most. Noone really knew it was coming, but there it was. More surprising was it’s price… You can’t argue with a completely free game. And I’m not talking free as in “free to play”, but literally¬†free. Serena doesn’t want your money. It just wants to creep you the hell out.

The game places you in the shoes of a man waiting for his wife. The setting is a small, simple log cabin. To be honest, it is clear that the place hasn’t been well kept, as shown by the cobwebs on the ceiling and the damage on the windows. Serena doesn’t drive you forward like a traditional narrative, but rather lets you simply explore and let the story unravel around you. As you wander within the cabin, you see various items that can be inspected to cue memories of the past back into the man’s mind. On the table rests a picture of the couple, but the woman’s face appears blurred. As you uncover the secrets of the house, the picture becomes clearer and you begin to discover the root of this man’s misery.

Serena Review - Mystery Trunk
I hate opening massive chests like this. You never know whats going to jump out.

For the purpose of not ruining the game, I won’t go any further into how the game unfolds. The truth is, Serena is short.¬†Really short. I completed the game in under an hour, and as such, there isn’t a sweeping narrative to describe. That’s not to say that the game doesn’t have an impactful story. In fact, the opposite is true. I can’t remember the last time a game punch me in the gut as hard as Serena did in an hour flat. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but lets just say that in the hour I played the game, I was surprised more than once by the narrative. If you like short stories, this game is a must play.

The production values of the game aren’t the strongest, but the narrative is what you’re playing for. I found the voice overs to be a little muffled which hurt the emotional element of the narrative, as it sounded ‘recorded’. They could have been more crisp and clear, especially for a game as story-driven as Serena. The art style worked perfectly however, as you could just feel that this house was an uncomfortable place to live. Everything works well visually to bring this dark story to its player.

Serena Review - The Cabin
This man likes to read.

There isn’t much more to say outside of the fact that there’s basically no reason why you shouldn’t give Serena a play. I also would like to point out that there’s something to be said for an engaging, short-form narrative game. I’d easily pay a couple dollars for a game like this. I hope Senscape considers releasing more narratives like this in the future.

Serena Review
Review Summary
Serena is an ode to adventure gamers who have been waiting for a thrilling short story to rustle their nerves. The price of free is an incredible value, as I feel that games like this could easily ask for a couple dollars. If you're looking to miss a night's sleep, set aside some time for Serena.
The Good
Absolutely free.
Chilling atmosphere.
Strong narrative.
The Bad
Can be finished in under an hour.
Muffled voiceovers.

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