Serena is a short adventure game that packs a truck load of emotion, inviting for you to investigate a painful mystery. When I was browsing through adventure games in steam, the title took my attention, yet I never got the will to actually try the game while other games that I purchased before were in the waiting line. Now that I did, I'm positive that the story will haunt me for a while. I have to declare here and now: it is immensely difficult for one to write a review about this game without giving any kind of spoilers; but I will try my best.
We play the game as a middle aged man that shares a small cabin out in nowhere with his wife, Serena. He sits on the table and looks at a photo of him and his wife. He is unable to recognize his wife's face. What did her face look like? Her eye color? Was she smiling when they took the photo? Come to think of it, where actually is Serena? She is not there... and doesn't seem to be returning soon either. We take a stroll within the cabin, and try to find some clues about our wife's whereabouts. Every furniture, every memento, every stain makes a life. Every tiny detail scattered around presents us a fragment of our memory with her. What happened to her?
The game is your basic adventure. The only place you got is the small cabin itself, in which the developpers managed to fit in a grand deal of story. The atmosphere is a marvelous success, accompanied by beautiful background music that reflects the mood in echoes. Everything around is dim, dark and dusty, as if the reality is old and static as our protagonist's perception. What is certainly remarkable for the gameplay is that; as our memory comes back and our perception change, associations that we have through objects do change also. That is key for the progress within this game. You click on an object for the millionth time - ok, I exaggerate, but at least 15 or so in given progress - , and you still discover something new about the story. The mood starts with faint, content reminiscence, growing to become heavy suspence and conflict; finaly calling the trumphet to make room for pure wrath and agony.
You won't be using anything else besides your mouse to go through our protagonist's memory lane. And take note, the game IS really short. I've run through the game 2 times already, and it took me a bit more than an hour to complete it for the first time. Considering the lenght, the game doesn't have a save game option. You launch, you play, you complete and you exit. That's all there is. I believe the lenght of the game is one of the reasons that the game was startling. The last moment comes as a punch to your conscience.
Serena is a wonderful short story that you'll keep with yourself even long time after you finish the game. I've made some research and discovered that the developpers' intention for the production bears a story of its own. The game is made to correct a wrong and outweight the pleasent as an intention in gaming community. That's why the game is free to play. So, if you are an adventure player and enjoy high quality, yet disturbing narration, what are you waiting for?