Severed is a dark and surreal game that, while somewhat repetitive in its gameplay, delivers an overall enjoyable experience, thanks to its fantastic visuals.
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Platform: Playstation Vita
MonsterVine was provided with a Vita code for review.
From the developers of Guacamelee! and Tales From Space: Mutant Blob Attack, Severed provides an experience like no–ne of their previous games. Taking place in a grim world dripping with emptiness and despair, Severed puts the player in the role of Sasha, a girl with one arm who has lost everything.
The game’s story is primarily driven by Sasha’s need to find her missing family. While this at first seems like a feasible feat, it slowly becomes more apparent that her quest isn’t going to be a happy one. Every step towards finding her parents and brother is more hopeless than the last, with eerie enemies standing in your way.
The narrative is presented mostly without dialogue, with only bits of cryptic information given here and there. This suits Severed perfectly, as the moody atmosphere and grimly detailed environments give you the basic story through unconventional means. Throughout the game, the world consistently felt mysterious and discomforting, with each piece of lore making me feel more apprehensive of what I’d encounter next.
The main gameplay of Severed takes some getting used to. You move through each temple and forest from a first-person point of view. Each room takes only a couple of steps to traverse, meaning you can hop through each room at a brisk pace. This is especially helpful in the game’s dungeons, as it can take a while to figure out which routes to take. This is made difficult since, for some reason, the right stick can’t be used to turn around, leaving the left stick to both move Sasha, and look around.
Severed‘s combat is unique for a Vita game. Similar to apps such as Fruit Ninja, the game has you swipe your finger across the screen to slash and defeat your monstrous enemies. Each enemy has their own unique method of fighting you, whether they swipe at you with sharp claws, or crush you with enormous arms. Swiping at their attacking appendage with the right angle and timing will stop their attack, which adds a layer of tactical precision to the game. Each enemy requires thought and precise slashing and parrying in order to defeat them, which helps to make fighting enemies more enjoyable.
This is especially handy because of how frequently you’ll battle enemies. There are plenty of monsters to battle, with many encounters involving more than one enemy. This means that you’ll have to quickly think of how to defeat each enemy, and how to defend against them in a timely manner. While the frequency of battles can be tiresome in certain dungeons, the constant variations in enemy types and attacks keep things from getting too stale.
Severed‘s visuals, somewhat ironically, really shine. The grisly and dirty environments contribute to the growing sense of dread, adding a great deal of immersion to the game. Sasha herself looks fantastic as well, as you can sense the feeling of loss that she has. As you defeat bosses and obtain pieces of them, her appearance changes when you look in the mirror, which makes her look more and more like a monster. This not only adds an interesting theme to the narrative, but also makes Sasha more visually distinctive.
The game’s sound fits the visuals perfectly. Sombre themes softly play in the background as you find your way through each dungeon and forest, adding an extra layer of melancholy to the game’s mood. Even the sounds that the game’s enemies and few characters make emit a certain type of creepiness, which suits their designs well.
The Final Word
Severed is an odd and enticing game. The gameplay, while sometimes repetitive, is both fast-paced and tactical, which makes for a unique and fun combination. The game’s visuals and sound compliment the story perfectly, making the game a grimly enjoyable ride.
MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good