The prevailing wisdom when it comes to the PlayStation Vita is that Sony has all but given up on it and that there are no good games to play on it anyway. This idea can’t be any further from the truth as Sony has quite the lineup of great gaming experiences lined up to release on the Vita before the end of the year. One of those experiences is being provided from the indie studio that brought us Guacamelee and Mutant Blobs Attack!; Drinkbox Studios. Their new PS Vita exclusive, Severed, is an RPG-light adventure that takes advantage of the vita’s touch controls to hack it out with a host of unimaginable and monstrous abominations. As the one-armed warrior Sasha, you must wield a living sword as you journey through a nightmarish world in search of your family all while solving swipe-based puzzles and collecting the limbs and giblets of your fallen enemies.
Sasha is a one-armed warrior but that doesn’t mean that she can’t still lay the smackdown on the enemies candy a$$e$.
Getting around in Severed is built like many of the great dungeon-crawlers that are already available for the handheld system. Environments are very linear corridors with branching paths turning up periodically that you can take as a way to investigate the current area that you are in. Unfortunately, there usually is only one path to take between “dungeons” (they are actually temples). When in the temples, you can go where you want but there may be gates blocking your path so it’s just a matter of finding a switch and then making your way back to that particular door. Temples also offer multiple floors which make them feel very fleshed out and fun to investigate fully.
Environments are unique and have a simple charm to them.
While you are walking around, you will come up against some of the strangest looking enemies that will try to cut your journey short. Using the Vita’s touch screen controls, you must figure out the weakness of the enemy and swipe your way to victory. No two enemies have the same weakness so determining the best way to defeat them is where the fun happens. Once you have weakened the enemy sufficiently enough, time will slow and depending on your current level, you will get only a few quick moments to relieve that enemy of its limbs and giblets; these being the items that you need in order to take Sasha up to the next level by adding new powers and upgrading equipment. The enemies get progressively harder to defeat as you make your way through the game which provides a satisfying amount of challenge while keeping the gameplay accessible and fun.
Sasha can be leveled up but you need plenty of giblets and parts to do so.
Back in the intro paragraph, I mentioned that Severed is an “RPG-light” adventure so you might be wondering how “light” the RPG elements actually are. The above image shows the upgrade tree where you can increase the level of attributes that Sasha has access to such as toughness, sever time and slash damage. During your journey, you can unlock new abilities as you ascend the RPG-style upgrade tree as well as keep track of the available giblets and parts that you have collected to create equipment. This one screen allows you access to all of the character building features that the game offers. It is the perfect amount of RPG elements that keeps the game interesting while allowing the player to customize the main character in a way that fits their play style.
Sasha can create equipment that she can use on her journey from the parts of fallen enemies.
The visuals in Severed are very simple yet colorful and definitely fits the story narrative. This is a strange world and the stylized environments reflect the odd goings-on in Sasha’s quest to find her family. The trees, vases, altars, fire-pits and even the giblets and severed parts of the enemies are crafted in a style that reminds me of construction paper art. Colors are bold yet dark and foreboding and help to communicate the strangeness of the world. This is one of the best looking games that I have played this year and if you are tired of playing games that are photo-realistic then take a good look at this one.
Once you deplete an enemies health gauge, you gain a few short seconds to liberate their arms and legs from their bodies.
Boasting a very well done soundtrack, Severed must be added to your list of games to play this year, especially if you own the Vita. I have to give credit where credit is due and Sony really has tried to fill the Vita library with some quality titles and Severed definitely fits the bill. It is a quirky game that is uncomplicated fun down to its very core. There are times when I want to play a game after a long day at work but just don’t have the energy to dig into pages and pages of abilities to tweak like those in traditional RPGs (I like to save those for my days off). Severed is the perfect game for jumping in and immediately having mindless fun with just a few swipes of your fingertip.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.