Severed: The makers of Guacamelee get touchy feely

You’ve just won all the plaudits for your 2D lucha libre-inspired action adventure on PS3 and its current-gen Super Turbo Championship Edition follow-up, so what do you do next? If your name’s Drinkbox Studios, you make a PS Vita game that turns your finger into a katana, of course.
“The real meat comes from tactical parrying and riposting.”
“We wanted to try and challenge ourselves creatively with this game,” explains Drinkbox co-founder Graham Smith when we express our surprise at the studio’s latest direction. “We had been working on Guacamelee for three years and we kind of needed a break a palate-cleansing game. I don’t think that there necessarily has to be a common theme across all Drinkbox games except that we want to make games that we want to play and try and think outside of the box to do things that are different.”

Mostly Armless
So, out goes luchador Juan and his side-on 2D antics, in comes a nameless female warrior and a first-person viewpoint. Out go Guacamelee’s electric combo of buttons, in comes your thumb to move between areas with the left stick, and your right index finger to attack, defend and investigate Severed’s bizarre world via the touchscreen.

And bizarre is definitely the word. Severed begins with you waking to find that your family’s vanished  and your arm’s been replaced by a bloody stump with your former limb now scarpering like Addams Family’s Thing. A bit of exploration later and you’ve a living sword to keep you company as the lengthy chase for your runaway body part begins in earnest.

The combat system is all built around the idea of severing (see what they did there?) parts from enemies. Movement is mostly limited to turning 90° in each area and pushing forward to head through doorways to the next scene, and while there’s a light layer of point ’n’ click adventuring the real meat comes from tactically parrying incoming strikes and landing blows between gaps in armour.

In busier areas there’s a rhythm action feel to the first-person scrapping. With on-screen enemy timers ticking down to warn you of inbound assaults, you’re forever spinning around to deflect the next wave of deadly attacks and land a few blows of your own before turning again in a fun plate-spinning exercise. As one of the few bespoke PS Vita games on the way, Severed is easily on track to be a cut above the rest.

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