Severed is one of these grand gaming experiences that could be enjoyed on consoles - and it is on Switch after all - but available on your iPad. This is a double edged sword. On one hand, it’s a fully featured -hardcore- game with enough content to last you a long while, deep enough mechanics, an interesting style and a cool soundtrack to boot, on the other hand, it’s not exactly the kind of experience you’re used to on your iDevices. If you only get a few minutes of play here and there during your commute you might have a weird time but if you manage to give this game the time it deserves, it’s just great! After catastrophe strikes your family, you set to find them in strange locales armed with a sword, fighting in first-person encounters by swiping at enemies and solving puzzles.
You move around in the first person perspective by tapping the left and right side of the screen to turn and tapping the middle to move forward. You can also look around by moving with two fingers and you can swipe and interact with things on-screen. It works fairly well but can be imprecise at time. I had instances where I wanted to turn but moved, stuff like that. It’s not a big deal but it can be frustrating at times and I have found myself wishing for some good old virtual buttons. The game at least never requires extreme precision during exploration, so it’s a very small issue.
Combats are another thing entirely. You swipe on the screen to hit enemies and build a focus meter by hitting them multiple times in succession. Enemies have ways to block your attacks and that makes you lose your focus. When your focus is full, you’ll enter Sever Mode - the game’s titular system - when you defeat your foes, which allows you to cut their limbs to use as crafting materials. The idea is neat, but I’m not a big fan of it being timed and I‘m even less of a fan of you having to loot all these monster parts to collect them, it could’ve been done automatically. Enemies won’t stay passive while you swipe at them, they all have attack timers filling out in different ways. Some just fill constantly but it drains when you attack them, some will do nothing for a while and then their meter fills in one go. When enemies attack you can parry their hits by swiping at them. As the game goes on you’ll need to do more complex moves to stop them, but the concept sticks from start to finish.
With collected monster parts you can upgrade skills in one of three trees. You’ll upgrade your sword, then a stunning spell, then a devouring spell that allows you to steal buffs from foes. The upgrade system is well done and the fact that you can transmute generic ‘giblets’ found mostly in pottery in order to create needed crafting materials is useful. This game has light metroidvania elements in it since you’ll be able to use the spells you get to unlock new paths and it makes exploring previous areas interesting. The first time you’ll go through has its fair share of puzzles -optional or not- as well. Some are very simple, like finding a lever to pull and open a door. Others involve following cryptic clues found in books and these optional challenges will often carry you to health and magic upgrades.
Battle encounters get very difficult and hectic as you go on and I’ve found myself having a little bit of difficulty targeting the right opponent when I’m faced with a horde of monsters and need to attack and block each and every one of them in turn to avoid taking damage, it’s no big deal however, because you’re not really penalized for dying. Like I said up top, this game was a bit weird to play in 15 minutes chunks because you forget what you were doing, which puzzle you were on and you didn’t have much time to accomplish much. It’s like trying to do a Legend of Zelda dungeon in three or four play sessions. When I could sink hours into it however, that problem quickly dissolved.
I really enjoyed Severed! It’s got everything that a great Action RPG needs. Good upgrade systems, good challenges, neat puzzles, a great sense of exploration and tons of enemies to cut down. Either on iOS or on Switch I strongly recommend it!