I gotta hand it to Drinkbox Studios. After the success of Guacamelee, they ought to have been able to produce a game for whoever on whatever, but instead they stuck true to their roots and made Severed, a first-person, touch-based, role-playing dungeon crawler currently exclusive to the PlayStation Vita. It’s clear they had a particular vision in mind and believed it suited to the Vita. They’re taking a gamble, but in terms of game design, it’s a huge pay-off for Vita owners. Severed’s story takes shape as dungeon-crawlers so often do; somethings are missing that need found. The tropes are rather conventional, but done well enough. As an RPG, you become invested in your character and her journey through the overall tone and atmosphere of the game.Story beats are conveyed through comic-like cut-scenes and through pretty significant environmental storytelling. Severed doesn’t entirely rely on hand-feeding you a huge amount of story information, instead allowing to interpret lore and backstory for yourself as you explore the eerie setting. In this sense, it reminds me of Dark Souls or the like. You’ll come across some pretty messed up environments and enemies, with little explanation as to why they’re so terrifying.
All in all, I was kept intrigued and motivated to progress through the game, an achievement I also attribute a great deal to the game’s stellar presentation.Drinkbox’s art design and presentation is simply stunning. It’s bears some resemblance of Guacamelee with some elements seemingly taking inspiration from Mexico’s Day of the Dead, whilst combining an art style reminiscent of Olly Moss’ work in Firewatch and reminding me of Japanese anime. The game is colourful, but simultaneously sinister.
Despite being heavily stylised the world feels alive and I was often totally immersed into the game. Obviously the sound design contributes greatly in this sense. Enemy design is exceptional, blending the tone and style of the game with its gameplay. Sound here plays an important role again, cueing enemy attacks, powerups and more.