I haven’t had a Playstation Vita for long, not even six months really, but I love the machine. I’ve been able to download a lot of my favorite RPGs for the PS1 era, and more. I certainly do not qualify to be a citizen of Vita Island, according to a couple of the KindaFunny.com cofounders, but I listened to them and bought the system.
One of the games I bought recently is Severed from DrinkBox Studios, and it is definitely my favorite game on the Vita. Coming off the incredible Guacamelee, DrinkBox developed Severed exclusively for the Vita, and it is gorgeous. The art direction of this game is top-notch, and very reminiscent of its predecessor.
This title seems shallow in the mechanics, but as you delve deeper into the intricate dungeons, the game stacks layers of abilities that I never could have imagined from a touch-based game. Let’s be clear I do not like touch based games, but this is the exception to the rule.
DrinkBox drops you into the game as Sasha, a girl who recently lost an arm during some sort of calamity, and she is on a quest to save her family from whatever hellish world they have wound up in. The underworld feel of this game’s story combined with the vibrant color palette makes the dark themes of this game so powerful. The story is about survival and dealing with loss, and while it is not heavy on dialogue, Severed delivers a hefty emotional punch.
At the beginning, a mysterious entity arms her with a sword, which is controlled via swiping the screen. Again touch-based phone games don’t appeal to me, but DrinkBox adds new systems periodically throughout the game to add depth to combat and exploration.
Initially combat is simply swiping the screen from side to side, striking weak points and parrying attacks at the right moment. Battles are not random, but cannot be avoided, and as the game progresses you consistently fight 3 or 4 enemies at a time.
There is not a large variety of enemies in the game, but the reskinned enemies often have slight variances to make them more difficult. Different types of enemies surrounding you forces you to strategize which monsters to take out first based on their speed, attack pattern, or buffs, because the monsters attacks are quite damaging to Sasha’s health meter.
Addressing the name of the game, part of the point to battle is to upgrade you equipment and spells, which both add a degree of depth to combat. Through various secrets or boss battles, you acquire new magic spells with your equipment. However, to upgrade you must slice off pieces of monsters, be it hands, wings, tentacles, eyes, or whatever. But, you have to fill the Focus meter, or you simply kill the enemy without cutting off the necessary parts to upgrade.
Severed is so rich in gameplay value for such seemingly simple mechanics. Early on in the game, you find out longer swipes deal more damage than short fast ones, and there is some much more with spells and charge attacks. I could gush about this game all day long.
Severed is touted as the swan song for the Playstation Vita, and that very well could be true. But, it is one hell of a song. I cannot recommend this game enough, and I may have even convinced a coworker to buy a Vita just to play it.
Finally, I’m not one for trophy hunting normally, especially now that I have a son, I don’t have time. Usually, I play games simply for the joy of the game. However, I wanted to experience everything it had to offer, so I picked Severed to be the first game that I platinumed.
TL;DR: Drinkbox Studios’ Severed delivers a dark, minimalist story diving into the themes of loss and survival combined with seemingly simple, yet satisfyingly rich gameplay. The lovely people over at DrinkBox know what games are all about.