Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Severed Review

Let's cut some demons!

Severed was probably my most anticipated game of 2016. When it was first announced by in 2014, I was stoked that not only was Drinkbox Studios, the developers behind Guacamelee!, was making a new game, but that it was exclusively coming to the Vita. A first party exclusive game releasing on the Vita in 2016? I couldn't wait to play this game, and I waited with bated breath at every update, video, and screenshot. I haven't been this excited about a game in quite some time to be perfectly honest.

I got the back on release date back in April, and I couldn't put the game down. I played it for hours into the dark of the night just with the little glow from my Vita keeping my eyes awake. So if I played it months ago and loved it, why haven't I reviewed it up until now? Well, the answer is twofold. First, I couldn't figure out exactly how to vocalize my opinion about the game. I enjoyed it immensely, but I needed to take time to figure it out. By the time I already had the review all set and ready to go, summer came and I was swamped with games and movies, as well as a day job that all took priority. I knew I would have a chance to talk about Severed, but I wanted to wait for just the right time.

Which is apparently next week. My second reason was because in the middle of July, it was announced that Severed would come to the Wii U and 3DS, which was a much bigger market than the Vita's current marketplace. You know it's sad when the Wii U is more prominent in the video game industry than the Vita. Still, with the wide release planned for a week from tomorrow, September 22nd, here are five reason why you should 100% get Severed.

1) The Atmosphere - Severed throws you right into its world as soon as you hit start. You appear in a wasteland, you walk around, and you find a house that's been ransacked and burned to the ground. Inside is a demon that tells you that your family has been captured by a great monster, and that same monster took your right arm. The demon gives you a sword, and you're off to explore the world to save your family. That's all there is to it, but with very few characters to encounter, you're just left to explore desolate ruins filled with puzzles in an attempt to find your loved ones. All the while, haunting music, unnatural landscapes, and uncanny creatures pollute the world, giving Severed a distinctly ancient Aztec vibe. Speaking of...

2) The Dungeons - There are only three dungeons in the entire game, but each of them feel completely fleshed out and are bursting with personality. You have one dungeon where filled with crows and day/night mechanics, a desolate village filled with inter dimmensional portals, and a tower filled with gusts of wind, strong monsters, and is home to some of the game's most fiendish puzzles. What's even more impressive is that this game actually makes backtracking fun. You can collect pieces of hearts and brains to improve your magic meter and your health, and you usually have to return with new powers you find from other dungeons. Thankfully, once you kill an enemy, they never appear again, so if you want to go from the 2nd dungeon to the 1st dungeon to scour for hearts, you won't encounter a single enemy until you get to a new area in any dungeon.

3) The Combat - Dear lord I love the combat in Severed! The combat is complete controlled by the touch screen where an enemy will appear in front of you, and the only way you can attack an enemy is to counter their moves the attack them by slashing the touch screen. The faster you slash, the more hits you'll get, but the weaker each attack will be. After you wipe out all of an enemy's health, you have the option to cut off their body parts and harvest them. You can take eyes, arms, tongues, horns, whatever you want depending on the enemy. There are about a dozen or so types of enemies to fight, so each encounter will always feel fresh, especially when you'll have to fight four enemies at the same time and focus your attacks on one at a time. I kid you not when I say that the touch screen mechanics here are some of the most complex and challenging I've ever seen on a touch screen system.

4) The Skill Tree - So remember when I said that you could harvest the organs and body parts of your enemies? Well this is what it's all for! After taking enough of a certain body part, you can combine it with monster flesh to create upgrades for all of your skills and weapons. You can upgrade your sword, your magic, or your monster rage. Each upgrade has various sub abilities in them that can be upgraded even further, so you can customize your outload from a very early point in the game. If you just want to slice every enemy you can, you can customize yourself with that in mind, or if you want to focus on stunning your enemies to damage them easier, you can do that too. Full upgraded every skill and sub skill takes time, but you will be so powerful by the end that it will be totally worth the effort.

5) The Length - Severed is not a long game. You can easily beat it in about 4-6 hours, but that's the perfect length for a game like this. Each dungeon doesn't overstay its welcome, and you can beat the game even faster if you don't want to get the true ending or get the Platinum Trophy (though since this game will be coming to the Wii U, Platinum Trophies don't make much of a difference). Everything in the game is just as long as it needs to be, and the story is still satisfying by the end. Every character has a decent resolution, and you come to terms with what happened to your family and confront the monster that took them. It's a fine ending that made me want to replay the game again just to experience the game a second time over.

If those aren't good enough reasons to pick up Severed, I don't know what to tell you. Nothing I say will be able to convince you, but if you miss out on Severed, you will most certainly be missing out on one of the best India games of 2016. Pick this up on any system you can and enjoy the dark and savage adventure that will ensue.


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