The term “gaming community” gets thrown around a lot these days, and its meaning has probably diluted somewhat in the last few years. Such communities form around all kinds of games, but they’re mostly taken to mean “people who play said games”. However, when a collective of individuals, developers and players alike, band together to create something, that’s kind of special. This is what happened around the close-knit adventure community, and the result of this cooperation is now available for free from Steam.
The credits of Serena read like an All-Star roster of the adventure gaming scene. Headed by Senscape’s Agustín Cordes, creator of Scratches and the upcoming Asylum, with contributions from Jan Kavan, Lukas Medek (both CBE Software), Josh Mandel, Scott Murphy (both of which are responsible for some of the best Sierra adventures), Laney Berry, Ben Chandler, and lots of other well-known contributors, this is impressive. It’s a wonderful statement of what a group of like-minded people is able to achieve, a love letter to the medium as well as the eponymous Serena, and yes, probably also a reminder that adventure games are still not dead. As if anyone would doubt that by now. Incidentally, it marks the first cooperation between veterans Mandel and Murphy in a long time, even if both of them just lend their voices to the game. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in the history of adventure gaming, this should be somewhat exciting!
The game does what its creators do best: to delight and to disturb, if you will. It seems to be a short, atmospheric piece about a missing wife and her husband, who “comes to a disturbing realization”, just like these things usually go. I haven’t played it yet, but despite the somber tone I expect it to be filled to the brim with in-jokes and little details, like only a living, breathing community is able to bring forth. The game also works as a showcase for Cordes’ versatile Dagon engine, which will fully rear its tentacled head in Asylum later this year.
Serena might only be a small, free game, but it is also a piece of adventure gaming history. You should probably take a peek, if you dare.