Slice ‘n Dice.
DrinkBox Studios is one of those developers that I have always adored. I have enjoyed every game they have released, with the likes of Mutant Blobs Attack and Guacamelee! They offer up some really fun, interesting, and unique games that I think many should try out. I wasn’t able to play Severed originally when it released due to my not owning a Vita, but now that it comes to the Wii U, I can finally give it a shot. What results is one of the more unique and intuitive games I have played in recent years.
Severed tells the tale of a teenage woman named Sasha, who is in a nightmarish world full of monsters. Finding herself wounded and missing an arm, she presses on through this world in hopes that she can find her family and bring them out of the hell that surrounds them. Armed with the warrior skills her mother taught her growing up and a sword, she will slash her way to her family even if it means her demise.
Platforms: Wii U, Vita, iOS
Price I’d pay: $14.99
The game takes place all in the first person view. It reminds me a lot of the old school dungeon crawlers of the 80’s and mid 90’s, much like the original Persona games. The player traverses the mazes in each area while fighting monsters and solving environmental puzzles.
The most endearing thing Severed has going for it is its control mechanics. Using the Wii U pad, players will use their left hand to move using the left stick while hold the Wii U stylus in their right swiping and pointing on the touch screen. Unconventional as it is, it works magnificently well.
The biggest standout is the combat. Players will run into an encounter while traversing the area. Fights can be seen on screen throughout the areas and when walking forward into the area, the fight will begin. During this time, Sasha is will have enemies on up to four sides of her. Since this takes place in first person, she must change where she looks to face each enemy. While facing an enemy, players use the stylus to slash on the screen in certain ways depending on the monster they are attacking. Certain monsters will block left or right, or even above or below them. Each monster when they attack can be blocked in different ways.
Both the timing of slashes as well as the angle is important. It becomes a fluid and thought out process as the game progresses. Knowing which monster to attack and keeping an eye on which enemy is about to attack feels great, and when executing this combat made me feel like I was a part of a rhythm. It was sublime. Doing consecutive slashes will fill up a meter that will allow a finishing blow that can sever body parts off the monsters when they die. It reminded me a lot of the slow motion kills in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Doing this will yield body parts from enemies that can be used as currency to upgrade Sasha’s abilities.
Acquiring more body parts allows the player to upgrade Sasha’s abilities using passive skills in a small skill tree. These passive abilities will add to her defense, increase attack power, and much more. It is very light on the RPG elements here, but what is here is decent enough. On top of that, boss fights drop special armor that can be equipped.
Exploration comes in the form of walking around maze-like areas finding both keys and levers to open up new paths and doors. Scattered throughout many of these hallways, players can find heart pieces that can extend Sasha’s health bar, much like in Zelda. While I enjoyed exploring for the most part, I found some areas slightly confusing, especially when there were multiple floors involved in a certain dungeon. There were a few times I found myself staring at the TV screen (where the map is displayed) trying to figure my way around. In the end, it wasn’t a big issue, just one that felt slightly time consuming.
DrinkBox has always done a nice job with presentation, and once again they really nail the soundtrack that, along with the simple, yet colorful art style really set the mood and make this world feel both beautiful as well as horrible. I loved it.
For a game that has a simple concept and controls, Severed can be a complex game both in exploration and combat. The combat is like a puzzle in and of itself, and it feels so rewarding getting the rhythm down while surrounded by multiple enemies in a fight. While not the longest experience in the world, it has some great ideas and some wonderful looks to keep players going all the way to the end. Add in a light RPG element that adds an extra layer of progression, and you have yourself an innovative, fun, and interesting game that I think everyone with a Wii U should pick up. Give it a shot, you may very well find yourself in love with it much like I was.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.