There are different reasons why anyone would want to create a video game. When I found out that a group developers teamed up to create Serena in support of positivity in adventure game community, I was impressed. Never mind the drama behind the development of this game. You can play Serena completely free of charge. This game takes less than an hour to complete. The story itself is gruesome and morbid (but in a good way!), and it offers a little bit of twisted surprise for you at the end as a reward.
You play as a man waiting for his wife. The problem is that you do not remember much about her — only her name. It is your job to look for clues that would stir up your memories of her and your lives together. You don’t get to leave the cabin; everything you need is in there. You first start remembering how in love you were with each other and how happy you were as newlyweds. Then little by little you uncover what really happened, and why she’s not there with you anymore. Finally, you realize that she’s not coming back, and as to why that is . . . well, that’s for you to find out.
Watch game trailer here:
There is no question about one thing: Serena has room for neither cheeriness nor happy endings — and that’s not a spoiler. The game is set in a small, dark, depressive and dilapidated cabin. Everything little thing looks like it’s covered in grime. The only flowers in the game are dead. See those paintings hanging on the wall? Disturbing, right? This game oozes suggestions of the macabre. I do like how detailed the objects are. Even though the whole cabin is covered in dirt you can still make out the patterns in the rug, the strands of hair on Serena’s comb, the smudges in the mirror and the soot on the glass windows. Even the background music is spooky (and it gets spookier the closer you get to the climax of the game). The only bright colour in the game is Serena’s hot pink sweater.
You do two things to get around in Serena: point and click; then you hear your own footsteps. Because this game is set in a two-room cabin, there’s not much “exploration” to do. The game itself is built on Dagon engine, developed by Senscape, “specifically tailored for adventure games.” This gives you the ability to have a panoramic view of your surroundings — perfect for any exploration game. In Serena, though, there’s not much to see, and understandably so, since this game is supposed to be only an hour long. Two rooms make up the cabin: dining area and bedroom. You will find yourself going back and forth between these two rooms (you don’t really have another choice). What I find to be very annoying is that because of the limited space in the game you’re forced to click on the same things over and over again for new clues.
The moment of truth: should you play this game?
To be honest, I wish they made this game longer. There is so much potential in its story. I think the art is great. I like the attention to details and I love the paintings. Yes, over-clicking on the same objects annoyed me a little bit, but that’s not a deal-breaker. I mean, there’s only so much you can squeeze in a two-room cabin — you’re bound to end up re-using some stuff. I don’t think Serena was ever meant to be a long game in the first place. It is a positive reaction to a horrible series of incidents. This can only be good for the adventure gaming community. And you know what? This game is only an hour long. Go for it.
Kotaku has conveniently summarized the story behind the real Serena and what her role is in the development of this game. Read the article here.