Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Developed by the talented DrinkBox Studios, Severed has been released on several platforms before, including the PS Vita, Wii U, 3DS, iOS and now most recently the Nintendo Switch. It’s an action-adventure game that gives the Switch’s touchscreen the biggest workout yet.
You play as Sasha, a one-armed warrior that is bestowed a living sword. She’s searching for her family, who have disappeared, and finds herself in a monstrous and deadly world. In this merciless place, you’ll solve numerous puzzles and will be up against a mixture of disturbing creatures. Luckily, Sasha is pretty handy with her sword.
Using the touchscreen on the Switch you swipe to defeat your enemies. The longer the swipe movement, the more damage you do. To counter incoming attacks you have to swipe at the right time, and at the right angle. Upon continually getting hit by some of the more fiendish enemy attacks, I wondered if the swiping mechanism was woefully imprecise at first. It’s not; it’s actually the opposite and requires a bit of practice and skill to master. Once you’ve mastered it though, Severed begins to click.
Once you start to get accustomed to the generously checkpointed combat, Severed throws in an RPG style upgrade system. As you’re about to finish off your enemies, time briefly slows down, and it’s here that you’ll get the chance to quite literally sever their limbs off. These limbs serve as upgrade points and can be used to increase the damage you dish out, reduce the damage you take and much more. There’s also a strategic transmute system, in which you can convert the giblets you’ve found into the monsters’ limbs you need for your next upgrade. It’s a rewarding process.
While exploring the clever map layouts, you’ll come across well-hidden heart and brain pieces that extend your health bar and magic respectively; you just have to eat them first! The puzzles found throughout Severed are smart too, requiring some thought to solve. It’s this blend of exploring, and the aforementioned touch combat, that is expertly realised.
To back up the impressive gameplay is the gorgeous, clean visuals that help to bring alive the ominous realm Sasha is stuck in. They look particularly great on the Switch’s ever-impressive screen. While the music, performed by the Canadian band Sonic Titan (feat. Pantayo), is suitably atmospheric and epic. The ending theme, “Take My Hand”, is powerful, to say the least.
Severed is short though, with the credits flowing down the screen more quickly than desired. After a few moderate play sessions, with one hand gripping the console and the other swiping away, I also found holding the Switch to be awkward at times.
Despite these minor issues, Severed is an excellent touchscreen indie title for the Switch and is one of the very best so far. If you’ve yet to play it on other devices, especially, it’s an essential purchase.