When Guacamelee first arrived on Vita, I was downright in love. It’s still to this day one of the best, if not the best game ever released on PS Vita. It was charming, beautiful, funny, frustrating, brutal..and I loved every second of it. I wanted to explore every single area, explore everything there was to see. So much so that I platinumed it on Vita, then platinumed it again on PS4. Not because I’m a particularly skilled gamer, but more because I was so head over heels in love with it, that if it took me 3 rage inducing hours to climb a bloody tree to collect an orb, then that’s what I was going to do, because we were in love. Well ok, I’m not strictly sure if the feeling was reciprocated, but the game gave me so much joy that that’s the logical conclusion I arrived at. And as we enter nearly the mid way point of 2016, we now welcome Severed. Obviously I’m ecstatic, but how on earth can Severed possibly live up to the genius of Drinkbox’s previous work? It can’t, can it?
Severed is a first person dungeon crawling, forest searching tale of Sasha – a kick ass warrior who wakes up to find her family is missing. Everything about the world seems off and it’s up to her to find where they are and bring them back home. Obviously it’s not as simple as that. There’s a whole series of horrifying yet stunning to look at enemies in your way. Battles take place on the touchscreen. Swiping back and forth will slash your enemies, but you’ll also need to be on your guard for when they attack you. You’ll have a split second to decipher which position they are going to strike you and you’ll have to parry their attack perfectly. Get your timing wrong, or your angle incorrect, and you won’t last long in Severed. Your only warning will be your enemies weapon flashing. And the fights are not just crucial to progressing with the story. You actually need your fallen enemies body parts too. Limbs, hearts, you name it. Because in this world (remember how I said everything about the world seems off?), you need to equip their carcasses in order to boost your powers. Of course you do! This is done by hitting Select and using your Transmute ability to buy parts. It gives a whole new meaning to The Body Shop.
Now chopping off limbs is all well and good, but navigating the world of Severed itself is majestic. You can’t really see too much in front of you. Your only guidance is a small map in the top right of your screen, but that feeling of not knowing what is around the corner makes every single area hugely intriguing. You’ll need to find keys, medallions, rubies, crystals and more to unlock further areas. At times you’ll have to pull colour coded switches, backtrack through cellars and even turn night into day. And it never feels like a grind, because it’s all done in such a fascinating way. Whether you’re traversing through Mountain Ghost Town, Domain of the Crows or any of the other wonderfully named (and structured) areas you will feel constantly curious throughout. But we aren’t just here to take the scenic route. As you venture forward on your search, as you’d expect, the difficult really ramps up. Enemies become 2, 3, 4…and you’ll have to keep swiping from side to side to stay alive. It provides a pretty hefty challenge, but the game presents you with unlockable powers, such as the Blind spell, which will temporarily stun enemies, or the charge attack, which deals far more damage to help you out. Use these wisely, and you’ll swipe the floor with the lot of them.
It all sounds so simple, and I suppose it is, but you have to see the colours, the atmosphere, the unbelievable amount of love put into Severed to truly understand its true force. It’s really not an exaggeration to say it would be an absolute miracle if a better game is released on Vita this year. And with Severed you feel there’s a lot more at stake than just a game. Severed is for everyone who has felt deflated and confused watching the Vita fall behind. Severed is for everyone who has voiced their frustrations online about the Vita not getting the attention it deserves. In 2016, Severed is not just a game – it’s a call to arms. It’s time for every Vita owner to step up to the plate, put their money where their mouth is and give back some of the support that Drinkbox have shown to the Vita. And the best part is you get an exceptional game. Not a bad deal at all.
Severed more than just sustains Drinkbox’s repertoire of excellence – it surpasses it.
Punk rating: 9/10