Developer: Croteam / Publisher: Devolver Digital / Played on: PC / Price: $9.99 / ESRB: Mature [Strong Language, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Drug Reference, Intense Violence]
As a big fan of Serious Sam 3: BFE, I was all over the latest DLC like guns on a Doomguy. From a high level it’s simply more of the same, which may be enough to sell you if you follow the series. There are a few subtle shifts in gameplay that warrant explanation though.
The three maps included in the DLC may not sound like much, but these are Serious Sam maps. They’re huge and stocked with hundreds of enemies, not to mention some crazy puzzles. Though I was initially concerned about this DLC’s value, you can get a minimum three hours out of it, and more if you want to play on a harder difficulty or find all the secrets.
The DLC maps have a subtly different texture than the original game as well. If Serious Sam 3 is Doom, then Jewel of the Nile is Doom II. These maps are much trickier in their placement of enemies and combinations of enemy types. Rather than throw waves of enemies at you for difficulty, the attacks here are much more surgical and intelligent. For instance, I never thought the bipedal melee gnarr were much of a threat before, but these maps will spawn groups of them on your flank while you fight other enemies. I was blindsided and terrified by a whole cluster of the bastards more than once, and being sandwiched between a horde of melee and ranged enemies is a tricky situation to navigate.
While the original map design brings new life to Serious Sam 3, I just wish that we could see some new environments or art assets in this engine. I was already tired of the Egyptian setting halfway through BFE, and three more maps with the same trappings don’t make it feel any fresher.
Jewel of the Nile also works in a surprisingly lengthy puzzle / platforming segment near the end of the second map. The series has always incorporated short button-hunting sections, but this is a twenty-minute stretch with just exploration and no enemies. There’s even a section in which you have to hit buttons in a specific sequence to line up moving platforms and then make a series of precise jumps to cross a room. This sort of design is extremely old school and a welcome dip in tension from constant hordes of enemies.
I was also pleased to see that the classic Serious Sam playfulness is back in these maps. Previous Serious Sams delighted in fucking with the player, and I felt like that had been dialed back in BFE. That is back in Jewel of the Nile, which will give you pause before you jump all over conspicuous armor or health floating innocently in the middle of a wide-open field. I don’t want to spoil too many of the surprises, but the first time you’re trapped in a room by rippling, invisible walls is a shocking wake-up call.
Though the game’s audio is the same as BFE’s minus some dismissible VO, I want to applaud the new music in the DLC. If you’ve heard the soundtrack for BFE, you know what to expect — Arabian melodies cut with pounding percussion and grungy, metal guitar. However, the tracks in the DLC are all top-notch and never failed to get my head bobbing during play.
This DLC is a must-buy for anyone that played and enjoyed Serious Sam 3: BFE. While the Egyptian setting is worn threadbare at this point, content exhaustion is mitigated with clever map design. It would be nice to see new environments, but this is a great booster pack of content until that day comes.
+ Playful, challenging map design
+ Good value for the price
- Enough Egypt already
8 / 10