Injecting Ourselves into Serum: A Survival Game That Pushes You to the Limit

Casual Gamer got the opportunity to play the early access full release of Serum, and here are our thoughts on the good and bad aspects of this challenging (and occasionally brutally punishing) survival game.

Serum, developed by Game Island S.A. and published by Toplitz Productions, is a single player survival crafting game set in a post-apocalyptic world. Released in early access on May 24th, 2024, Serum aims to provide players with a unique and challenging experience that combines resource management, base-building and combat.

The game’s core survival mechanic revolves around crafting and injecting serums to stave off a deadly infection, adding a sense of urgency to the gameplay. As you progress through the game, you’re also solving a mystery about what happened to you and the environment you find yourself in.

The Good: Crafting, Injecting, and Surviving


Serum’s premise is undeniably intriguing.

The idea of scavenging for resources, crafting life-saving serums, and managing a ‘death timer’ while exploring a mysterious, post-apocalyptic world definitely captures your attention.


The toxicity bar, which limits the number of serums that can be used within a specific timeframe, adds a layer of strategic decision-making to the experience.

The game’s base-building aspect provides a temporary safe haven where players can catch their breath, reset their timers and plan their next moves, and the upgrade mechanics for systems such as your Fabricator or the Workbench give you achievable goals to work towards.

The timed serum system takes a lot from other survival horror classics like the batteries from Outlast and the lamp oil from Amnesia. It’s definitely a fun and immersive concept, but if the game lacks the extra quality of life features it can feel overall too punishing. Serum rides that line, it feels stressful and restrictive enough to give the player a constant objective – while also allowing for a deep crafting and customisation system.

Atmosphere and Immersion: A World on the Brink


The game’s atmosphere and setting are also noteworthy. This post-apocalyptic world is well-realized, and the hints of a deeper narrative involving experimental programs and government cover-ups help to create an immersive experience.

From the moment you step out of the tunnel you find yourself in, you’re immediately dropped into the mystery of your situation, and the feeling of being completely out of your depth.

2nd base

The graphics are very immersive – from the misty depths of foliage and weirdly deformed animals you you come across, to the decrepit buildings and outposts.

The audio design and voice acting definitely contribute to the eerie and unsettling environment, drawing players into the game’s world. The enemies you encounter are genuinely terrifying, mostly because you feel outmatched for a lot of the early part of the game, but also because of the audio cues and jump scares.


You can tell the developers have spent a great deal of time designing this world and it shines through.

Room for Improvement: Frustrations and Shortcomings


We played the Serum demo before its full release, and we were looking forward to playing the game to see what had changed. We were also keen to know what quality of life improvements had been made for the release.

As an early access title, Serum has its fair share of challenges and areas that need refinement.

We found that the constant time pressure can sometimes discourage exploration and gathering, as these activities can take up precious minutes. As an example, having to do a mini game to open valuable chests that you come across just feels needlessly punishing.

Balancing the game’s pacing and ensuring that players have opportunities to engage with the world without feeling overly pressured is an area where the developers could definitely focus their efforts.

Combat in Serum is another aspect that could benefit from further refinement. Encounters can sometimes feel clunky, and enemies may act as health sponges. Refining the combat mechanics, improving enemy AI, and offering more diverse and challenging encounters could greatly enhance the overall experience.

Need For A More Comprehensive Tutorial


We also liked the complexity of the serum system, but found the UI confusing and the process was not explained. An in-depth tutorial that took players through the basic elements of the game such as brewing serums and upgrading your base would definitely help.


Another area where Serum could also improve is in respecting players’ time. The game’s design currently involves a significant amount of backtracking and repetitive trips to the base to reset timers, craft serums, and secure loot. We just wanted to explore this interesting world and loot without having to worry about heading back to our main base to store inventory items or to rid ourselves of deadly afflictions.


We think that streamlining these processes and implementing quality-of-life features, such as a pause function in single-player mode, could go a long way in making the game more enjoyable and accessible.

Serum Roadmap

Despite the challenges it faces, Serum shows promise as an early access title.


Looking at the Serum Roadmap, it’s pretty clear that the developers are obviously listening to player feedback and making improvements to the game, such as reworking the UI and patches including changes like allowing stack-based item transfers in the inventory.

The addition of a co-op could alter the game in a good way too.

As they continue to gather insights from the community and refine the game’s design, there is potential for Serum to evolve into a truly captivating and immersive experience.

The game’s genuinely intriguing premise, atmospheric setting, and unique mechanics provide a solid foundation for growth. With continued development and refinement, Serum has the opportunity to address its current shortcomings and deliver a more polished and enjoyable game to players. For more information, check the game out on Steam, join the Discord channel or visit the official Serum website.

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Harriet Gough
Over 20 years' experience as a writer and games journalist. Avid gamer and enjoy a wide range of game genres including MMOs, FPS and RTS. My favorite games include Warframe, Skyrim, Destiny 2, CoD and Age of Empires.

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