A warrior with holy powers finds herself trapped in a facility lousy with demons. Some serious smiting is required, but instead of relying purely on her talents for magic fireballs, our hero turns to a pair of futuristic pistols. She blinks through enemies, hops off walls and wears the hordes down with unfaltering fire, stopping only to smite the occasional downed enemy with an explosion of golden light.
Seraph a great game for gifs. The snappy movement, the bullet hell influences and the Equilibrium-esque gun-fu cool are all evident in just a few seconds of repeating footage. However, you might not be able to tell that the angel's perfectly accurate dual-wielding technique is automated. I hold down one button as she picks her targets and fires. I might find new weapons—machine pistols, revolvers, a powerful beam weapon—but the triggerwork is all hers. My job is to keep her alive.
Seraph is all about avoidance. You use your moveset—an area-of-effect pushback attack, a double jump and teleportation—to find safe space in ever-intensifying battles. Difficulty ticks up with every blob of experience you absorb from enemies, and it doesn't take long for the basic encounters of the first few levels to become desperate scrambles. Melee creeps like to swarm and leap. Floating demons fling fireballs, and others teleport unnervingly into your personal space. The game cleverly forces you to finish powerful enemies at point-blank range, which gives you constant imperative to dive into the fight's most fraught areas.
Environments and the placement of weapons, enemies, bosses and chests, are procedurally generated, and the game is designed to be played in repeat runs. Bosses drop shards that you can spend on passive buffs and new powers. There's a crafting system of sorts that lets you gather materials from chests and enemies, so you can later spend them on weapon upgrades. The extra layer of progression is welcome, but the generation does produce repetitive levels.
The story is slightly mad, too, but mercifully—and I wish more games had this option—you can tell the game to automatically skip all dialogue. If you want to dispense with the story entirely you can head into challenge mode, supported by leaderboards, which asks you to kill things quickly for points.
Seraph is still in Early Access, but its core combat systems feel great. The upgrade system is still being finalised and I've yet to move out of the sparse midnight-blue levels at the beginning, but it's a promising action platformer with a superior sense of style. Now watch, as I gracefully boost into a fireball sandwich while trying to show off.