Severed, by DrinkBox Studios, launched on PlayStation Vita back in April of 2016, and I picked the game up with cautious optimism. I was already a huge DrinkBox fan because of Metroid-style platforming brawler, Guacamelee, (which also happens to have one of the greatest video game names of all time) but I hated touch-control games and first-person dungeon crawlers.
In spite of my strong hesitation, my doubts faded away within the first hour; I was hooked. The strange world of Severed became my home away from home until I had completed every challenge, and overturned every rock, DrinkBox had to offer.
Severed is the story of Sasha, a young girl who awakens in a bizarre world filled with horrifying creatures to find her family, and one of her arms, missing. An old swords-woman who eats raw monster flesh, a devilish cloaked figure who gives Sasha a sword with a living eye set in it, and a grotesque, corpulent bird with two heads and no eyes; these are just some of the creatures she encounters on her journey to find her family, who have been abducted by the dark denizens of this world.
On her journey, she will adapt to the savage landscape, adopting the skills and abilities of her vanquished foes until she begins to resemble the very monsters she hunts.
GAMEPLAY & CONTROLS
Severed is a Metroid-style first person dungeon crawler, and the gameplay is straightforward; use your finger to slash at enemies until they are dead. The twist comes in the upgrade system; enemy body parts are used as upgrade materials, and they will be destroyed if players simply slash wildly until a monster is dead.
In order to obtain parts, players must use precision slashes and build their special meter, finally cutting parts off individually during a limited-time execution period after a monster’s health has been depleted.
Outside of combat, players will solve a number of different styles of puzzles, finding keys and backtracking in order to find upgrades and new paths forward.
The biggest thing to note about Severed is the game is only playable with touch controls, and the controls can be a bit demanding, especially in late-game encounters with multiple enemies. Long swipes do more damage, and since the game is played in real-time, and not in turns, the faster you can swipe the more damage you can do.
A few times, I had to put the game down for the day because I developed a slight sensitivity, or even the beginning of a minor burn, on my fingertip from vigorous swiping (I can’t help it if I get a little too excited when playing a great game), but your mileage may vary, especially if you use any type of screen protector. It is important to note that due to the touch-based nature of the game, it is only playable in handheld mode; no docked mode is available.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
DrinkBox has developed a signature style over the years, and they brought it to bear once again in Severed. Like the ghastly underworld in Guacamelee, Severed has a slightly sinister feel, and although the game sports a bright color palette, it does nothing to diminish the singularly unsettling feeling of being surrounded by monsters who could have come straight out of a body-horror film.
Although any one of these monsters would look genuinely horrifying on the silver screen, Severed’s simple, abstract visual style keeps enemies feeling more “weird” than actually scary.
The music, an original soundtrack by Juno-nominated band YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN featuring Pantayo, is initially reminiscent of Indonesian gamelan, boasting a number of percussive instruments, and little by way of melody. Simultaneously meditative and disruptive, not to mention mildly hypnotic, this is just one track in a game whose style of music is almost completely foreign to other video games, but it fits Severed perfectly.
Severed is a great title for explorers and touch-control enthusiasts. Doubters may also find something to love in it’s strange world and bizarre enemies. Playing the game for extended periods of time can become tiresome, but it never stopped me from uncovering every secret Severed had to offer.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – DrinkBox Studios
Developer – DrinkBox Studios
Price – $14.99
Genre – Action, Role-Playing, First Person Dungeon Crawler
Size – 147 MB
Brian Barnett has loved video games ever since his uncle Jimmy introduced him to them at the ripe old age of five. His wife, Audrey, was also introduced to video games by her uncle, lending credence to Brian’s theory that behind every gamer, there is a cool uncle.
Since playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES, Brian has had a passion for Nintendo games. The first thing he did when he started earning money was save up and buy himself a Game Boy, and they quickly became inseparable. Through the years, this led to his special love of portable game consoles, so the release of the Switch is the perfect storm of Nintendo action he has been waiting for.
In addition to his gaming obsession, Brian enjoys playing drums, writing and listening to music, and hosting a weekly video game and nerd culture podcast.
He is an extrovert, and loves talking about and playing games with others, so let him know if you want to team up and play together!
Plays: Switch, New 3DS, SNES, NES, GBA, PC, Xbox One, PS4, Vita