Do you remember the amazing Mexican folklore-inspired platformer Guacamelee? DrinkBox studios is back with another novel title, but this time, it’s no Metroidvania type of game. With Severed they have created a touch-based first-person dungeon crawler, exclusive to the PlayStation Vita system, a platform pronounced dead quite a while ago. Is Severed enough reason to blow the dust off of our Sony handheld?
When it comes to story, Severed doesn’t beat around the bush. It throws you right into its grim and depressing world, where protagonist Sasha has not only lost her arm, but also all of her family. To save their dead bodies from the demons, you have to find them before they do. Fans of Guacamelee will be shocked by the change of pace, but will immediately feel familiar with the characteristic use of vibrant colours. Severed‘s world is instantly engrossing, even though not using much narration to build it up.
360 degrees of dungeon crawling
Gameplay-wise, Severed uses the mechanics of a classic first-person dungeon crawler, yet completely refrains from using classic elements like sidestepping or backpedalling. Instead it allows you to move the camera 360 degrees, as opposed to the usual four directions. The only problem with traversing through Severed‘s world is that movement between rooms is not fluid, but rather a sequence of two pictures. This cut after every step is irritating and forces you to work with the map almost all the time. Therefore, it will take you quite a while to get into Severed‘s special way of dungeon crawling, but an hour into the game, you will hardly have any difficulties and enjoy the beautifully disturbing environments.
Fruit Ninja 2.0?
When I first heard about Severed using touch-based controls, I was rather turned off. Fruit Ninja and other cheap mobile games came to mind, but after the first few fights, I noticed that it requires a lot of tactical planning and attention to take out your enemies. Severing the limbs of the demons provides you with materials used for upgrading your weapons, which is another aspect that made Severed stand out as something special. However, Severed‘s combat is on the verge of being too hard to handle. When multiple enemies approach you, you have to manage which monsters to attack first and use your abilities wisely to stun the other ones. Sometimes, I was physically forced to take a break in-between fights, as later groups of enemies use special buffs and require you to have incredibly quick reflexes. All in all, I was intrigued how clever touch controls can be used without making a game feel cheap.
Vita’s biggest surprise
Severed surprised me in many different ways. It showed me how liking a videogame isn’t bound to certain genres and offered an easy-to-learn, hard-to-master six hours of unique and entertaining gameplay. Severed‘s genre mix is a masterful composition, successfully showcasing PlayStation Vita’s unused potential. If you happen to be an owner of Sony’s almost forgotten handheld, there’s simply no way around this slashing adventure.
What we liked:
- Grim atmosphere
- Severing feels great
- Unique combat mechanics
- Novel upgrade system
What we didn’t like:
- Traversing between rooms
- Multi-tasking in fights
This review was written using a PlayStation Vita review code provided by DrinkBox Studios. How do you like the idea of using touch control in a clever and unique way? Are you a fan of dungeon crawlers in general? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!