I had a unique experience playing Severed on a business trip recently. I was flying across country on a 6 hour flight which normally would exhaust any sense of patience I pretend to have. Instead the trip blew by as I utterly absorbed with my experience in Severed. In fact I was so immersed that I didn’t realize until the credits that my row mates had been watching my playthrough for nearly most of the flight. Severed is a remarkably enthralling title – especially since it’s designed for mobile devices.
This shouldn’t be surprising though. Developer DrinkBox Studios surprised us last year with Guacamelee. The devs lifted the core mechanics of a quality Metroidvania game with an impressively designed world and responsive but challenging combat at its core. Severed feels similar in a lot of ways though greatly streamlined down for mobile. Instead of Metroid, however, this game feels very much rooted in Zelda’s history replete with labyrinthine dungeons with keys and bosses.
You play as warrior Sasha who due to unknown reasons is stripped of her family and thrust into a nightmarish world with strange monsters and even stranger allies (though we came around to start to enjoy the two headed talking crow with giant fangs). We don’t want to spoil much, but the game is dark and rarely deviates from this path though it does offer a hopeful ending.
Wait, wait, wait… Check his pulse!
The most interesting aspect of the game is the interface for the mobile devices. The game is played from the first person perspective and all navigation is done simply by tapping the screen: center to move forward, edges to turn. When you encounter an enemy, you fight by swiping the screen to swing your sword but the devs wisely implemented limitations. Hitting certain areas of a creature may increase its defenses or stagger you leaving you vulnerable to attack. Other times you can expose an enemy to a rapid barrage of swings. It’s surprisingly tactical at times and can be extremely complex when you’re juggling battling 4 or 5 enemies at once. It’s responsive, always fun, and DrinkBox just about everything they can with this mechanic to keep you interested for the 6 hour playtime.
The user experience of iOS is intuitive and impressive at once and is perhaps the best imitation of Zelda we’ve seen on mobile devices (considerably more fun to play than Oceanhorn).
What Doesn’t Work
We wish the story had more to do. We’re not quite sure about every friendly we ran into and the they end abruptly by design which seems shortsighted.
Overall: Good but Skippable
It isn’t a must play game but if you need something for your phone or are heading on a trip, we couldn’t recommend Severed more. You won’t be disappointed.