Going into it, the only thing I knew was that it used touchscreen-based combat (which is why it’s available for Vita, Wii U, 3DS, and iOS). It’s difficult to imagine Severed without a touchscreen, because it’s the heart of the battle system.
You slash enemies to damage them and slash against an enemy’s attack to counter. For many enemies, you need to wait until they show their weak spot, or attack in a specific way to reveal it.
This starts out simple, but gets pretty challenging later on. Fighting multiple enemies at once turns into a careful balance of dealing damage while switching between enemies to counter their attacks. If you build up your Focus gauge through successful attacks and counters, you’ll be able to sever parts of the monster’s body once you defeat it.
Ah yes, severing monster limbs.
You play a young woman named Sasha on a journey through a strange, twisted world to find and save her family. Before the game begins, Sasha’s arm is cut off, and that’s only the start of Severed’s macabre love of hacking off body parts.
Monster pieces–arms, eyes, wings, etc.–are used to upgrade Sasha. You have a skill tree to fill out, and each upgrade costs a certain number of parts. You can also break pots to find giblets, which can be converted to other parts.
Severed has a Metroidvania-esque progression style, although in some ways it also reminded me of The Legend of Zelda. You explore several dungeon areas, which involve locked doors, some backtracking, and areas you won’t be able to access until you have certain upgrades.
Finding secret areas is enjoyable, and since enemies don’t respawn, you can backtrack in peace.
(The lack of respawning enemies might make you nervous in a game where your upgrades depend on gathering monster parts, but I fully upgraded Sasha with parts to spare, and there’s an area near the end of the game where enemies do respawn, if you need more.)
Now, I haven’t said a lot about the story. Severed has a minimalist story that leaves more questions than it answers, but it does have some enjoyable moments and characters. In general, I liked it more for its exploration and unique combat than for its story, but that’s enough to carry it.
If a dark, stylish game with touchscreen-based combat and dungeon exploration sounds fun to you, look into Severed, because it’s a great little game.
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