Whats faster then Usain Bolt and more messed up then a b-movie horror flick? That’s correct, it’s SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell! Developed by Pine Studio and Published by Headup Games, this has got to be one of the fastest paced games I have ever played, and by its title I’m sure you can guess what it’s about, a first person speed running game that’s based in hell, of course it is.
You play as an old gent who loves beer (stay with me) and as your player relaxes and drinks beer, the devil appears to steal your ale and in the struggle you end up losing your arm. How the heck did that happen? If you thought the silly nature of the game had reached its peak, get ready for it to take that one step further. You lose your arm to a vinyl disc and after moments of confusion, our beer guzzling hero now has the devils arm in place of his own, a hand that grants you with some nifty powers for the adventure ahead. From here the game takes you to the underworld with over 90 levels waiting for you to tackle, each of which offer up a gradual climb in both difficulty and complexity.
Speedrunners from Hell starts out quite simple but it’s not long at all before the difficulty takes it up to downright insane. Each level plays out from a first person perspective across a hellish landscape, in which your only goal is to get to the end of each level as quickly as possible or by abiding by the time limit that’s provided. Fail and you’ll need to start over from the beginning of said level. Each level plays out the same and although the concept is repetitive from beginning to end, the levels do vary to make sure that the repetitive formula is countered to some degree. The aim of the game is to descend into the depths of hell, to do this you’ll need to make it through a selection of floors. Floors are compiled of nine levels plus a boss level, which typically sees you utilising what you’ve learned from the previous levels. There’s also a bonus level to work towards but you’ll only witness this if you’ve collected enough of your stolen beer, which you can pick up in the aforementioned levels.
Powers that you can utilise include projectile fireballs that craft platforms or activate gates as well as the ability to teleport and even manipulating gravity. These tools aren’t too tricky to get to grips with, and they certainly come in handy when trying to find the quickest route throughout each of the multi-tiered levels within. It’s actually the controls that will throw you off, they’re far too loose for a game that relies on pinpoint precision and decent timing. When you sit back and consider that Speedrunners from Hell is chock-full of obstacles and intricate pathways, timing is key, so it’s a shame that something as basic as poor controls and movement ends up being a huge hindrance.
The meat of the matter here does rest in the campaign, and there’s no shortage of content for those that are skillful and patient enough to see it through. Outside of that there’s the option to enjoy the speed-run mode and the endless mode, which is gifted to you upon completion of the core experience. The leaderboard support will surely entice fans into nailing that perfect run in return for a high rank, but again you’re really wrestling with the movement and controls, which almost makes this feature a game of chance rather than raw talent. It’s clear by the 3D visuals that Speedrunners from Hell is channelling the likes of DOOM and Hexen, and despite the fact that this game wont be breaking any barriers for current gen standards, there’s enough visual variety to call this passable. Just don’t expect it to rock your world.
I’ve spend countless hours on just one level, simply because I wanted the fabled golden medal. Speedrunners from Hell has had me rage quitting, Speedrunners from Hell has had me screaming, but amidst that, Speedrunners from Hell has offered up a decent amount of fun. The poor movement / controls most definitely hinders the experience to a steep degree, and some of the levels do feel overly taxing when you get further in, but the solid music and addictive nature of play continues to pull me in for that proverbial “one last try”, again and again and again. There’s enough content to be found here, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Speedrunners from Hell breaks new ground, because it doesn’t. It’s not a terrible game, nor is it a great game, but it seamlessly finds somewhere comfortable to sit in between that spectrum.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.