Severed by developer Drinkbox Studios is a first-person dungeon crawler that sees the player in the role of Sasha, a one-armed warrior that is on a quest to find her missing family. The journey that lies ahead is a treacherous one, as the player uses the iPad’s touchscreen to hack and slash their way through a variety of monsters and puzzles.
Severed’s concept isn’t new, but it’s executed so well — as the player explores a variety of colorful dungeons, they must use their finger (or fingers) to interact with the environment. For example: double-tapping a finger on a doorway will move Sasha forward, while dragging two fingers across the screen will inspect the environment.
Double-tapping to the left or right side of the screen will turn Sasha around. Items like food – which can restore Sasha’s health – can be plucked from trees by tapping your finger on the item, and then consumed by repeatedly tapping your finger. Essentially, Severed’s control scheme is as user-friendly as it can get on a mobile device.
Instead of meeting enemies through random encounters like in most RPGs, Severed places them throughout each dungeon as flickering lights that resemble black and white fireballs. Sometimes the player can avoid these enemies by just walking around them, while others will block doorways and hallways, leaving no other option but to fight.
The creatures that inhabit the dungeons are very imaginative. Some resemble fungus-like plants that spew spores, while others are spider-like in appearance with multiple appendages. Despite which creatures are encountered, they are guaranteed to give the player a challenge.
Combat is Severed’s crowning achievement. Instead of using standard hack ‘n slash mechanics (where the player frantically swings at their opponent), the gameplay is more focused on precision and timing each blow. For example: when a creature blocks, the player must quickly search for an opening and then strike. This process must be repeated until the creature is defeated. When fighting multiple adversaries, the game provides circular icons that represent each creature. When one of these icons fill, the player is only given a few seconds to click on the appropriate icon (which turns Sasha around), and then slice in the direction the creature’s arm is raised to deflect the blow.
Successfully blocking the attack will stun the monster, allowing the player a few additional seconds to counter attack. This method must be repeated until every monster is defeated. In some cases, the game will enter a state of ‘bullet time’ or reduced speed, so the player can amputate their enemy’s limbs. This is done so Sasha can use the severed limbs as her own.
Graphically, Severed is a beautiful game. While simple in appearance, the bright colors really help the creatures and dungeons stand out. The creature animations are highly detailed and very smooth, especially when they’re being struck by Sasha’a weapon. The creature death animations are probably some of the best ever seen.
Severed by developer Drinkbox Studios is a uniquely addictive game that blurs the line between console and tablet gaming. It’s reception on iOS devices has been so positive that it already has a PS Vita counterpart, and a Nintendo 3DS port that is scheduled for late Fall. But regardless of the platform, Severed is one of those games that shouldn’t be missed; it’s that good.
Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios