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Playstation Experience: Hands-On With Severed
As the dust finally settled on Sony’s lengthy keynote address, I stretched my legs and took a moment to glance over my notes. My brain had been assaulted with game after game, and while I was attentive during the whole conference, it’s easy for a lot of games to get lost in the shuffle. As I scanned my notes I realized I took the time to write in capital letters, “NEW DRINKBOX GAME,” and figured that was a good place to start. As a huge fan of Guacamelee!, I’ve been incredibly eager to see what these Canadian masterminds have been up to. With huge titles like Bloodborne and Destiny commanding monstrous lines, I had more than enough incentive to start with an indie title. I’ve played a lot of games today, and I will play a lot of games tomorrow, but so far, none of them has impressed me as much as the PlayStation Vita title Severed.
At first glance, Severed looks a lot like Guacamelee! Seemingly built from the same graphics engine, the “Dia De Los Muertos” look sets the tone of an old-time Mexican setting, but this world is less goofy than its spiritual predecessor and decidedly creepier. Severed begins with you controlling your character in first person. The game operates much like a dungeon crawler from a 90s PC game, moving one space at a time and discovering more of the map as you progress. What little storytelling there is in Severed is presented in a manner that adds to the eeriness of the whole experience, opting to go for more of a visual route than text or voice acting. The whole experience feels solitary. Severed even throws in some RPG elements, giving you upgrade currency found from enemies and broken jars. This currency can be used to upgrade your attack, life, and abilities.
What will have people talking and what will have me following Severed‘s development with great enthusiasm in the upcoming months will be the gameplay. The controls are absolute perfection on Sony’s handheld, favoring horizontal and vertical slices as your primary attacks for offense and defense. The whole experience takes all the mindless bliss of the mobile hit Fruit Ninja and adds an element of strategy that makes battles tense and wonderful. The core mechanics are based around using your blade to counter or attack while keeping an eye on the attack meter of all your foes. The battles in which you are slated against multiple foes simultaneously are especially exhilarating. With the mix of planning, reacting, and schizophrenic finger-swiping, I was in joyful bliss going up against whatever gross monster Drinkbox had waiting for me in their Mexican nightmare dungeon.
The Vita is in the process of a re-branding of sorts, making it more of a destination for specialized indie titles rather than big-time blockbusters. Severed isn’t going to be a system seller by any means, but it will surely be at the forefront of this re-branding movement. With it’s touchscreen-specific controls, compact feel, and gorgeous presentation, Severed is the perfect example of an experience that is best enjoyed on the Vita.
Severed is slated for a Spring 2015 release.