VG Tribune

REVIEW: Severed (Nintendo Switch)

August 21, 2017 / 9:00 AM

By: Marty Estes

Somewhere in the fever dreams where game developers birth their best ideas, someone came up with the idea for Severed. One part dungeon crawler, one part horror, and one part…..Fruit Ninja, Severed has appeared on multiple platforms before finally cutting into the Nintendo Switch (see what I did there?), including everything from the PS Vita to iOS, and separate turns on 3DS and Wii U. Since the game isn’t new, the question isn’t whether it’s good or not: that has been proven by the multiple awards and commendations it’s won in it’s time on other systems. Instead, the question is: is this title still worth your money, and is it a good fit for the Switch, where it joins VOEZ as a title that can only be played in handheld mode. Read on to find out!

For those who haven’t played it yet, Drinkbox Studios’ Severed is the story of Sasha, a one armed warrior on a quest to find her family, who have mysteriously disappeared following what seems to be an attack on their home that has cost her an arm and her next of kin.  What follows is a bizarre first person dungeon crawling adventure through a horrific mirror world that begins when a mysterious entity gives Sasha a weapon: a seemingly living blade.  After a short flashback scene that teaches the player the basics of combat: touch screen swiping to attack and swiping with the enemy’s attack to parry, you’re cast out into the world to make it on your own.

Severed is a first person, dungeon crawling experience that melds RPG and Fruit Ninja into a pleasing package. Within minutes, you’ll be cutting through enemies with ease, learning their patterns and, most importantly, severing their body parts to harvest fodder for leveling up Sasha. Every enemy in the game has parts that can be harvested, a process that begins with combat and ends with you filling your Focus Gauge, a meter beneath your life that fills with each consecutive slice that you land on your enemy before they block. Once the meter is full, enemies you defeat will pause briefly before exploding, revealing lines on their bodies where parts can be severed. You may use these parts for anything from defensive upgrades to attack boosts to prolonging the focus effect. Even the few bosses you encounter can be severed, though your reward for defeating and severing them is quite different.

It doesn’t take long after learning the basics that the game ratchets up the difficulty level. But, the difficulty is never overpowering, only increasing to ready you for the next challenge, whether it be introducing a new enemy type to learn to parry, or making you fight multiple enemies at once, teaching you about managing those enemies by swiping their weak points and parrying at the right time, eventually defeating them all. All this is done on the touch screen of the Switch, which responds beautifully to your touch.  In fact, touch, along with moving via the left Joy-con, is the only way to control Severed. If you’re left-handed, you’re not left out, as the buttons on the right Joy-con function just like the stick on the left, so don’t worry about missing out!

All told, I spent about 6-7 hours in the world of Severed, finishing the game but not getting the true ending. The true ending is only unlocked by 100% completion, and there were just a few rooms, heart pieces, and brain pieces that I did not find.  However, I have to say that I immensely enjoyed my time. If it’s one thing that Drinkbox Studios knows how to do well, it’s crafting games that grab you, won’t let go, and make a lasting impression. Though there is little in the way of backstory in Severed, there is plenty of storytelling and atmosphere, and I found I genuinely came to care about Sasha and her family, though there is no spoken dialogue in the entire game.  Everything works together: the visuals, the eerie, tense audio tracks, the limited, yet perfect controls, and the lack of definition to the story. Drinkbox simply lets the game be what it is, and for what it’s worth, I appreciate that. We need more games that aren’t afraid to do this.

In summary, Severed isn’t so much a game you play as experience. The nightmarish world that Sasha survives becomes your world through her eyes, and you find yourself begging for five more minutes constantly. The ease of controls and atmospheric gameplay will have you hooked from early on, and won’t let you go until you’ve finished the game. It’s an absolute gem for the Switch, and the fact that it can’t be played in docked mode only makes it harder to put down. I’m looking forward to what’s next from Drinkbox, who has become one of my favorite developers between Severed and Guacamole. Give it a try…I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Severed was reviewed from a downloaded copy provided to Nintendo Dads by Drinkbox Studios.

Severed

Severed
90

Final Thoughts

9/10

    Pros

    • Atmospheric World
    • Music and Sound Effects Are On Point
    • Easy to Learn Controls
    • Touch Screen Very Responsive

    Cons

    • Enemies Can Be Overwhelming At Times
    • Not Much Direction About Where to Go
    • No Backstory

    About the author /


    Marty Estes is a lifelong Nintendo fan and gamer who has lived through eight console generations and lived to tell the tale. When he's not playing games, he's a full time youth minister, husband, daddy, and friend.

    Related Articles

    Post your comments

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *