Severed (Nintendo 3DS) Second Opinion Review

By Albert Lichi 05.06.2017 1

Review for Severed on Nintendo 3DS

Drinkbox Studios found tremendous success fusing luchadores with Samus in 2013's Guacamelee. Turns out using Mexican culture as a flavour for tried and true genres was something everyone didn't know they wanted. The developers were not going to stop with lucha libre and Metroidvania; their next project would tackle dungeon crawling and Fruit Ninja-style touch controls, compounded with Mexican culture being used again as a backdrop. Does Severed meet the heights that Guacamelee soared to, or is it crippled?

The first most striking quality of Severed is its visuals. The art team at Drinkbox Studios achieved some very innovative 2D graphics that create a strong impression of first-person 3D. This is all thanks to the fixed way Sasha moves throughout the maps, which is restricted to step or tile-based movement as seen in The Dark Spire or the Etrian Odyssey games. It is the same art style from company's previous games, which has an animated insurance commercial feel to it. In Guacamelee, the art was a natural fit due to its comedic and outrageous tone, what with all the constant video game references strewn about. With Severed, it first creates the impression that it is going to be more of the same... but it totally isn't, and is, in fact, a much darker game than the art would suggest.

It can be kind of jarring seeing such a bleak quest for revenge with such an art style that is so closely associated with a light-hearted beat 'em up. The surreal landscapes reaches almost alien levels of otherworldly, since the world vaguely resembles velvet paintings by way of Samurai Jack. Even the day-glow dungeons have an otherworldly aesthetic that does draws people in.

Screenshot for Severed on Nintendo 3DS

After about two hours, the limitations of the art become apparent, as Severed begins to repeat and recycle assets. This sort of thing is to be expected, but it is only because the core game is so simplistic that it becomes easy to succumb to sensory deprivation. The gameplay comes down to exploring the grid-based world and getting into encounters with monsters that are all defeated the same way: cancel their attack and slash away. There is a finishing moment where Sasha can zandatsu herself some materials for learning new moves.

Encounters are more interesting when there are multiple enemies, which makes the game more about rotating to the enemy who is about to attack and to cancel the bugger before he does. This is the extent of the action, and while at first it seems like it is pretty fun thanks to the stimulating visuals and responsive controls, it gets really old after a couple of hours. Since the story is extremely thin, there really is not much holding the gameplay together and everything just starts to feel mindless.

Severed's story could not be more simplistic. The protagonist is a young woman named Sasha who regains consciousness from an attack on her family's home. Sasha, being the only survivor of the attack has lost her arm during attack, takes up her mother's sword and sets out to take revenge on the murderer of her family. She is a one-armed swordswoman and the vibe really does harken back to an old samurai movie, but after the initial introductory moments, there really is nothing else until the end. Sasha has almost no character and the only other characters she interacts with are monsters, which she dismembers. There is not much to go on to give context to the adventure, which shockingly affects the gameplay. If there was any case for a game that suffers from lack of story or narrative drive, it's Severed.

Screenshot for Severed on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Drinkbox Studios knows how make a polished and stimulating game, for sure. However, when designing an action adventure game, it is important to create some context for the adventure. Establishing characters and making them relatable is paramount to engage users on an emotional level. It does not have to be much, but just a little bit can go a long way, and Severed barely makes an attempt. It is not even too challenging, and can be beaten fairly easily, even if the touch screen can be a bit inaccurate at times, especially during the finishing moves. Aside from the lacking narrative, the gameplay spreads itself thin for about a six-hour game, which can feel like playing a Fruit Ninja marathon.

Developer

DrinkBox

Publisher

DrinkBox

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

The Drunkard Kid (guest) 17.10.2020#1

It's been a few years since I've played it, and I played the Vita version, but I feel that this review doesn't do the game any justice, what with it glossing over the fact that many enemies have unique patterns or conditions that have to be met to actually be able to damage them (like having to break through a shell first, or wait for them to go into certain phases), and that as the game goes on you end up with much more complex mobs where you are basically spinning around like a blender in a tornado, frantically deflecting attacks, exposing and exploiting weak points, building a power meter to allow you to sever limbs, activating special abilities, devouring power boosts, etc...  

Not to mention the fact that the non-combat gameplay is basically like playing a first person Zelda dungeons with tons of puzzles that you have to figure out to both continue the plot as well as find permanent power ups for your health (basically analogs to the Zelda Heart Pieces, except for both health and magic, represented by anatomically correct-ish looking hearts and brains that Sasha eats from a first person perspective), as well as abilities that function like Zelda's Dungeon Items and give you both more combat options and some Metroidvania-esque traversal abilities.

Seriously, its like we played two completely different games, or that you stopped really early, especially considering your assertion that there are no NPCs that you interact with other than the monsters that you kill, as I distinctly remember that there are 2/3 important characters that Sasha interacts with in multiple non-combat scenarios throughout the game, and who give you hints in the plot and help build up the bleak atmosphere of the setting.  As for the context of the adventure, a monster attacked your home, chopped off your arm, dragged you into some sort of monster-riddled dimension, and stole your family and now you are trying to find and recover your family who has been scattered throughout a few dungeons and face down the monster that did all this. 

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