Severed (Vita) Reviews

  • Prem-aka-PrincePrem-aka-Prince393,095
    30 Apr 2016 30 Apr 2016
    10 0 11
    I feel like this game has released largely under the radar (not a single comment on the 4 TT articles introducing it), but I played it quickly because I really wanted to be able to give an informed opinion.

    What you should know about Severed
    Severed is a Vita-exclusive (at time of writing) which is heavily dependent on fast directional swipes. From the makers of Guacamelee!, I would describe it as a challenging Action game with RPG elements, though it has story progression and takes the form of a first-person dungeon-crawler.

    Story and Purpose
    The story is loose, and frankly I'm not sure I could spoil it even if I tried. Sticking to surface details though, you play as Sasha, wake up in a mysterious realm after an unexplained incident, and obtain a powerful sword. This is the tool of your trade as you set out with silent and emotionless brutality to save your mother, father, and brother.

    Is it a dream? Is it an alternate dimension? Is it the afterlife? The narrative as it progresses takes a definite soft-touch approach, mostly leaving the player to interpret it as they wish. I will say however that the ending takes a minute to breathe and tries to make the player make up their mind as if they were Sasha themselves. I'm sure that some people will not engage with this moment, but for others, all that's needed is there.

    Action and Enemies
    Chances are you've seen directional slashing on other platforms and peripherals. But to compare this with Fruit Ninja is to do it a great disservice. Action here is tactical on multiple layers, not only requiring precise aim and thoughtful timing, but also enemy crowd control between frantic bursts of intense speed.

    All enemy attacks are in real time and they attack from all sides, so you have to juggle between different types simultaneously to try and stay alive. As the game progresses enemies become more demanding, and the player adds a few tricks up their sleeve to combat this. I can say from launch-day experience that the game is pretty intense at times, especially in the first half, but if you do a good job with your upgrades you should come out okay. This will become easier now as people write guides compared to when I was flying blind. Sadly there is no difficulty setting or New Game Plus.

    Layout and Movement
    The map is a twisting grid of rooms which only join on N/S/E/W. The benefit of this is simplicity, as movement both in and out of battle is entirely handled by the left stick/D-pad (good news- you can use the face buttons on the other end of the Vita if you're left handed). This means that we can keep one hand over the touch screen ready for action at all times.

    The levels are not randomly generated, and (with one or two exceptions) enemies do not respawn. However, a benefit of this is that levels are expertly mapped and peppered with secrets, especially giving us the "Metroidvania" delight of returning to earlier areas with new powers that allow us to access extra areas and rewards. Here the plus side of non-respawning enemies appears, as when backtracking it's smooth sailing, we're not hampered by time wasting enemies like we were in Metroid Prime.

    Upgrades and Difficulty
    This is one of the key aspects of the game and, on closer inspection, its enjoyment. There are a modest number of upgrade trees (you can complete them all in one playthrough) and each has a surprisingly big impact on your power level. Therefore, as the enemies get harder, it is necessary to have some good upgrades to support you.

    This is in my opinion its greatest weakness: players who make a mess of their upgrades for one reason or another will dig themselves a hole where the game only gets harder and they only perform worse, in contrast to talented players for whom it becomes easier and easier. However on balance infinite respawns helps struggling players not feel too punished for dying, and the pursuit of more upgrade materials from a flawless battle gives top players incentive not to get lazy.

    Players may have concern that the large amount of different upgrade resources from different enemies (some harder than others) could lead to an imbalance if you always mess up against a certain enemy type, given that they don't respawn. However there is a meta-material called Giblets which can be exchanged in bulk for any of the other resource types (as long as one has been found already). The player should get used to spending these wisely and not hoard them any more after getting the last upgrade tree.

    As far as I know there is only one respawning enemy before the end of the game, and though he is easy to farm, it's not really necessary since as long as you make it to the end of the game (gulp) there is a room with respawning enemies on-tap and a reward room with plenty of resources to get you to fully upgraded if you haven't already.

    Graphics and Audio
    I'm not going to say too much about this one, it's essentially 2D art in a pseudo-3D world. If you enjoyed the style of Guacamelee you have nothing to worry about here (as long as you realise it's a grim contrast). Although the environments are at times pretty on reflection, I would say the only remarkably attractive work is the enemies in motion. If you're trying to judge the graphics before playing then look for videos rather than artwork stills.

    On the Audio side I can't comment too much as honestly I can't so much concentrate on it while managing everything else, but the few moments I did notice it I quite appreciated it and almost wished I would process it better the rest of the time. My creator didn't splash out for hyperthreading in my brain architecture unfortunately.

    Trophies and Missables
    The collectibles in this game are all either Heart Piece equivalents or big jars full of upgrade resources. I would say there is a good amount of collectibles and almost all of them are marked on your map as you discover them, no special upgrade required. This means that as long as you are a fast learner, good at the combat, and make smart upgrade choices, you shouldn't need a guide. However a guide will help smooth out the big risks and stresses.

    I don't think there are any missables (assuming you're not just outright awful), my biggest suspicion is a secret trophy which asks you to finish the game after finding certain secrets, but I suspect that the end boss is repeatable since the secrets give you a slightly different ending (sadly I never saw the ending without them so I can't tell you the difference).

    I believe Severed is a very successful accomplishment of what it was intending to be, and that's why I took the time to write this review. It's an action game that takes advantage of the Vita's large colourful touch screen by encouraging long swipes over short; it's an RPG that incentivises precision over brute force by giving upgrade resources from Severing specific limbs; it's a dungeon crawler that encourages curiosity and exploration with Metroidvania secrets and doesn't dissuade backtracking.

    A game that manages to be colourful yet dark, it's a great one-time adventure that really belongs on Vita. If you want a game with randomly generated dungeons, or a game with a deep story, or you just hate touch screens, then don't get it. But if you like what you've read then maybe check out some other sources you trust and give it a try.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    AtsumaKarinNice review, mate! smile
    I've already bought this game, saw it was made by DrinkBox, had a look into it, sounded quite interesting. Hopefully will play it pretty soon.
    Posted by AtsumaKarin on 30 Apr 16 at 12:46
    Prem-aka-PrinceThanks for checking out my review! toast Hope you enjoy the game. Give it a try sooner rather than later or you'll get caught in the old never-ending trap! If you get stuck or would like some tips we can discuss it in forum or PM compute
    Posted by Prem-aka-Prince on 30 Apr 16 at 12:58
    Linkx41Nice review! Def picking this up in the future!dance
    Posted by Linkx41 on 30 Apr 16 at 15:22
    Paully005Nice review
    Posted by Paully005 on 15 Jul 16 at 13:44
    Prem-aka-PrinceThanks for reading music
    Posted by Prem-aka-Prince on 15 Jul 16 at 17:37
    NOBLEPX672Yo, yo review is shit.

    thumbs up laugh
    Posted by NOBLEPX672 on 15 Aug 16 at 09:30
    Prem-aka-PrinceThanks for commenting...? laugh headspin
    Posted by Prem-aka-Prince on 15 Aug 16 at 13:11
    NOBLEPX672cn_upcn_upcn_downcn_downcn_leftcn_rightcn_leftcn_rightcn_Xcn_Ocn_start headspin
    Posted by NOBLEPX672 on 15 Aug 16 at 14:15
    DeathofRats09nice review prem but i could not give it 5 out of 5 because the touch screen controls are not that great
    Posted by DeathofRats09 on 01 Apr 17 at 22:01
    FrancoisAndF1Got the game when it was free with PS+ and finally got around to giving it a try and i'm pleasantly surprised by it. Loved Guacamelee and definitely loving this. Currently trying to get to the final boss and then backtrack for all the goodies and that sweet Platinum trophy too.
    Posted by FrancoisAndF1 on 22 Nov 17 at 07:51
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