Severed for Nintendo Switch Review: Remember to Dismember

Sporting a similar art style to Drinbox Studios’ other famous game, Guacamelee, Severed is a tour-de-force for touch screen gaming. In 2017, its easy to overlook how much innovation is still left to find with touch screen gaming. Severed, a first person dungeon-crawler with slashing as the main combat mechanic, capitalizes on the potential of touch screening gaming in all the right ways.

In Severed you play as Sasha, a woman whose family as gone missing after her home is destroyed. Monsters and demons litter your path as you venture into a polychromatic, eerie landscape filled with traps and dungeons. The game’s core mechanic is slashing with Sasha’s blade, which is done by simply swiping on the touch screen.

Maxing your focus meter and not taking damage/getting swipes blocked allows you to dismember enemies. Each severed limb can be picked up and used to improve Sasha’s abilities.

The entire game plays out in first person and in numerous dungeons, sort of like older Shin Megami Tensei games. Enemies have unique attack patterns and defense, requiring patience as you learn how to hit their weaknesses. You can gain items from fallen enemies and use these to upgrade Sasha’s abilities and health, rewarding you for successfully dismembering your foes.

You’ll fight up to fuor enemies at a time, each with a unique attack pattern to work with. Juggling between different demons with varying attacks is never overwhelming but always satisfying, requiring the player to stay on their toes all the time.

Outside of combat there are light puzzles to solve. These don’t go much farther than figuring out why particular doors won’t open for you, pulling levers, etc.

The art direction in Severed is like little else in gaming today.

Visually, Severed is absolutely stunning with its simplicity. The graphical style is similar to Guacamelee in some ways but far more morbid and the vibe of your adventure is far less cheery. There are some wonderful backdrops from time to time that will leave your jaw hanging ajar and the character designs are hyper-creative.

The story, while engaging and told well through small vignettes and text, isn’t as prominent as it could be. Most of Sasha’s sense of purpose is set up in the game’s opening minutes and while that’s all you really need here, the story could have used a few more animated scenes to liven up your five to six hours of dungeon crawling.

Aside from its short length, I would only point out the sometimes confusing dungeon layouts and certain room types as flaws of significance. Some rooms will poison Sasha, having her take damage repeatedly until you find and defeat the cause of this toxicity. These rooms feel cheap though I understand they were put there to liven up the dungeons.

On a few occasions I found myself getting lost in a dungeon due to the samey-look of some areas. It isn’t a huge issue and it didn’t happen often but the earlier dungeons tend to have rooms that blend in together so it can be a little confusing when you get turned around. Consulting your mini-map will of course point you in the right direction.

The story isn’t always at the forefront of the game but Sasha’s journey to find her family is an exciting one no less.

At six hours long, roughly, Severed is a wonderful first person dungeon crawler that uses the touch screen in a very exciting way. Juggling several enemies, each requiring their own attack/defense strategy is a blast and for combat that uses screen swiping it has a surprising amount of depth.

Since the game uses the touch screen you have to play it in handheld mode, no docking your Switch is allowed. This isn’t a deterrent but I did find that during extended play sessions my left hand would tire of holding the Switch for so long. The device itself isn’t all that heavy but I’m not used to holding all of its weight in one hand while swiping on the screen with another.

Additionally, navigating the many labyrinths Sasha explores controls well with the Joy Con controllers, attached to the system of course, but jumping between the right stick for camera controls and swiping on screen grows a bit cumbersome during longer sessions.

With superb visuals, a morbid but charming world, simple but effective combat, Severed is an easy recommendation for any Nintendo Switch owner. You could complete it in a day or so and feel like you experienced a truly remarkable game.

Final Thoughts

Severed is a stunning, bold adventure that uses the touch screen better than any game in recent memory. At six hours long, your time with the game is short but entirely worth it even if your hand will tire from holding the Switch for hours. Review copy provided by the developer.

Overall Score 85%