Siberian Mayhem – Exclusive interview with the developers from the Russian studio Timelock Studio

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is expected to release on PC on January 25, 2022. This game is notable, among other things, for the fact that it is being developed by our compatriots from Timelock Studio. In anticipation of the release, we decided to contact the authors and ask them a few questions about the team, the project itself, plans for the future, and more. Find out what came of it in this interview.

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem | Reveal Trailer

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is being developed by Timelock Studio, a very young studio founded in 2021. Tell us more about the team.

Our team brings together longtime fans and some of the most famous modders in the SeriousSam community. These are team leader Evgeny “Ded Kadath” Yagudin (Red Day mods, Ursul Suburbs, etc.), Svyatoslav “UrbanDeHuman” Rutskoy (Operation the Sunrise, various animation mods for weapons), Nikita “YANexus” Koshkarov (Operation Skyfall), Alexey “NSKuber” Oblaukhov (popular script mods), Artur “Ar2R-devil-PiNKy” Sidorin (modifications of SeriousSam 2: Renovation and DIO’s Bizarre Encounter, Semolash video magazine), Igor “Asdolg” Grinkevich (various tools for working with the Serious engine Engine), Vladimir “FreekNik” Remezov (translator, writer, artist), Georgy “MintFritter” Koshelev (professional artist and modeler). This lineup went all the way to the development of Siberian Mayhem. All team members have extensive experience modding SeriousSam – some of us have been doing this for over 10 years, and some of us have already taken part in the development of various games. However, Siberian Mayhem was a debut project for us, in which everyone took part from the prototype to the final version of the game, which was the embodiment of old dreams and a great achievement. Each member of the team has known each other for many years, so we always know our features and methods of work, which has a good effect on the development and planning process.

Siberian Mayhem was presented literally two weeks before the release. Why such a late announcement?

In fact, some fans have long suspected the imminent return of Serious Sam, because a year and a half ago, the first signals about the future project appeared on SteamDB. The advertising campaign itself began with the A Seriously Cold Teaser video in early December last year, and with a trailer two weeks before the release. Such an unexpected and late announcement is due to the short development time. We wanted to show the public the project in the way it will be on release, and not repeat the mistakes made during the marketing of Serious Sam 4, when a lot of raw material was shown.

Why was the decision made to release Siberian Mayhem as a standalone project and not an add-on?

Initially, Siberian Mayhem was supposed to be a downloadable add-on for Serious Sam 4, in the same DLC format as the add-ons for Serious Sam 3 and Serious Sam HD (we are talking about Jewel of the Nile and Legend of the Beast). They were no more than three new maps with a minimum of content that was not in the main game. And this is where Siberian Mayhem really stands out from their background: we tried to create a completely new environment with a lot of new content, added new game mechanics and expanded the player’s arsenal. And at one point, our publisher Devolver Digital was so pleased with the progress of development that he offered to release this campaign as a standalone game. This gives Siberian Mayhem its own identity and uniqueness to some extent, as well as being simply convenient for the player – you do not need to download Serious Sam 4, which is twice the size of Siberian Mayhem.

The game will unfold in Russia. Will we see familiar references, including ones that only people in our country will understand?

Despite the fact that we strive for references that will be understandable to the whole world, our compatriots will definitely find something native for themselves and understandable only to a person living in Russia – from locations that may be familiar to everyone, and ending with characters in images of which it will be possible to discern famous or loved by many people.

Why was Siberia chosen as the scene of action?

Siberia is not chosen by chance, because in the final chapter of Serious Sam 4, Sam goes to Tunguska to put an end to the invasion of alien hordes by destroying a huge portal. We decided to tell in more detail about what else happened to our hero on the way to the portal. And Siberia is one of the wonders of Russia. Unexplored and cold expanses, the beauty of Siberian forests and fields, mountain ranges and virgin lakes – this setting is perfect for a game like Serious Sam, and we tried to pay great attention to the natural environment and national flavor, which Serious Sam 4 lacked.

Judging by the Steam page, there will be no Russian voice acting in Siberian Mayhem. But will we hear at least Russian remarks from NPCs?

Oh yes, on his way, Sam will meet local partisans who will definitely drop something Russian, although they will communicate with the hero of the Earth in English. For greater credibility, we hired Russian-speaking voice actors, so that their accent will be authentic, not Hollywood.

Does the Croteam studio, which released the previous parts, help you in the development of a new game?

The guys from Croteam were an integral part of the development of Siberian Mayhem and were always there. They provided assistance in organizing the development process, consulting on technical issues, testing, quality control and supplying the necessary resources. While the levels and gameplay were entirely designed by Timelock Studio, the Croats have always noticed things that could be improved, for which we are very grateful to them. Croteam, although they are getting older, still love their series from the bottom of their hearts.

What is the duration of the game?

There are only 5 levels in the game, and the average duration of a leisurely passage varies from 5 to 6 hours. This time the levels will be filled with places to explore, puzzles and traps, so if you are an avid explorer, you will be interested in visiting every corner of the Siberian expanses. Well, if you want to find all the secrets and Easter eggs hidden by us, then 6 hours will not seem enough.

How will the co-op mode be implemented?

At the time of release, the standard 4-player co-op playthrough will be available in the game. In the future, a survival mode will be added, which can also be played with friends, and new player models will also be available.

Serious Sam 4 is a prequel to the third part, which, in turn, is a prequel to the first part. What period does Siberian Mayhem take place in?

Siberian Mayhem is a so-called “midquel” that takes place during the final episode of Serious Sam 4, between the penultimate and final levels, where some understatement of the story is felt. After leaving the Burevestnik oil platform, Sam will continue the hunt for the traitor General Brand already on land, namely on the northern coast of Russia, deepening into the Siberian expanses.

Will there be any improvements and changes to the gameplay compared to the fourth part?

In Siberian Mayhem, we tried to find a middle ground between the gameplay of the classic parts of Serious Sam (The First Encounter, The Second Encounter) and the gameplay of Serious Sam 4 with its innovations and dynamism. The player can also use the skill tree and gadgets, but this time there was a strong emphasis on the environment during battles – we are bringing back the good old indoor battles, jumpers, traps, characteristic closed arenas and variable geometry during battles. Weather conditions will also return to the game: blizzard, rain and wind will add dynamics to what is happening and affect the gameplay to a certain extent, since visibility in a snow storm drops noticeably.

In between battles, the player can also dive into the levels and find so-called points of interest, where they can stumble upon additional enemies or a piece of lore in the game world, or discover a piece of a puzzle for which a generous reward awaits them.

In addition to the basic mechanics, we have added completely new enemies and weapons, which have not been found in any game in the series – these are very bold experiments, and we hope that the players will appreciate them.

Do you develop other games besides Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem, or at least have plans for them?

At the moment, we have a clear plan for the development of Siberian Mayhem after the release – these are updates and fixes of possible bugs, as well as adding new content. And what exactly will happen after Siberian Mayhem remains a mystery for us. Time will tell.

Among the new weapons will be a crossbow and AK. For what purposes will they be most effective?

An electric crossbow with a telescopic sight is ideal for hitting enemies at a long distance, and up close it can thin out a number of adversaries running at you. And what sounds he makes – it must be heard!

The famous and updated AK is the weapon that you will most often hold in your hands (yes, at least one in each hand). It is much more powerful than the assault rifle from Serious Sam 4 and is good for both small enemies and larger ones.

And also, as a surprise, a third, completely new and powerful weapon is waiting for you. With the help of this handsome man, a group of a dozen enemies can be turned into a bunch of steak of the maximum degree of rareness at the touch of a button!

Thanks for the interview! Could you say a few words to the visitors of the portal?

On behalf of all Timelock Studio members, we are very grateful for the warm welcome from the audience and fans, as well as for your support and attention! We will try not to let old Sam down and give pleasant hours of spending time in Siberian Mayhem.

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