Severed - Switch Review

DrinkBox Studios is one of my favorite smaller development teams. They have a knack for merging cool gameplay mechanics with bright, colorful visuals that I happily spend hours with at a time. Severed is no different - in fact it may be their best overall effort yet. While it is true that this title has seen some prior releases, it plays better on the Switch than any of its prior platforms.

While Guacamelee! will likely always remembered as the first time I completely fell in love with a DrinkBox Studios game, I have played a few of theirs now and each one is so unique that they each become memorable for their own reasons. The story behind Severed is one of my favorites of theirs, as we follow the story of a young woman named Sasha who is trying to put together her story after waking up in a strange and fantastic world.

Because you see the world through Sasha's first-person perspective, Severed is considerably more immersive than some of the studio's prior games. From there you take Sasha on a quest to find her family as she solves puzzles and takes on enemies with one arm and a unique combat system that come together to create something both unique and memorable with Severed.

In many ways, this is a gore-heavy game, almost at odds with its bright, colorful visuals. Why gory? Well, the game itself has a lot of callbacks to the classic dungeon crawling genre, complete with some occasional if fairly easy puzzles along the way. However, the bulk of Sasha's time is spent in combat, but despite only having one arm, she is anything but weak or vulnerable. Where Severed really distinguishes itself in combat is how the myriad enemies are often so very unique from one another. Unlike the typical dungeon crawler where you just pound away at opponents in turn-based combat in an attempt to lower their hit points, Severed offers a far more tactical style of play, despite its action-heavy nature.

I know, I know - saying combat is both tactical and action seems somewhat at odds with one another, and things could have gone south rather quickly here. However, while the game gives you the action through swipe based mechanics that have you actively poking and prodding the screen, you also have to figure out where your enemies are weakest. Swipe using short or long gestures and target specific areas on your opponent's body to exploit their weaknesses. Of course, if it was just a matter of tagging a soft spot, the game itself would not be very challenging. Rest assured however, that as you advance in skill, your enemies develop their own improved means of defense, such as durable growths that cover their weaknesses. Sasha will continue to gain new skills along the way helps to add even more variety to the mix as you develop her abilities through skill trees.

Now, admittedly the story while interesting at first is not the deepest I have ever experienced, but with its unique and vibrant visual style and a subtle but strong ambient soundtrack playing along to support it, the overall experience is a very good one due to how well all of these disparate components come together here. One caveat that drew criticism early on in some circles was that Severed is the second (that I'm aware of) portable mode only game for the Nintendo Switch so far. There is no on-screen play, and I've read interviews that state the developers investigated adding some sort of motion controls to the mix, but found that they were not satisfied with the results. I think that makes a lot of sense, given the precision required at certain points in the game. Why shoehorn a style of play in that is only going to frustrate users? Better to focus on the tried and true system that worked so well in the prior iterations.

Even with that lack of big screen play, I am comfortable in saying that Severed is best played on the Switch. I've had a chance to play it on a couple of other platforms previously, and sporting a larger screen than the Vita or the 3DS, and more responsiveness than on mobile, this version may not be uniquely different than prior iterations in many ways, but it is the cleanest and most visually attractive version of the game to date.

DrinkBox Studios has created a memorable game that really leverages a unique visual style and some cool touch mechanics that create a fully fleshed out and enjoyable game.

Game Information

DrinkBox Studios
DrinkBox Studios
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
PlayStation Vita
Wii U

Provided by Publisher

Article by Nick


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