Review – Severed Steel
It’s been a really good time for the fast paced first-person shooter with some of the best in the genre coming out in recent years. DOOM Eternal, Quake‘s surprising remaster, and the recently released Deathloop being just some stunning examples to come out over the past year or so. I can now safely say that Greylock Studios and Digerati’s Severed Steel is another one to add to this ever growing list.
Severed Steel is all out action. Think F.E.A.R combined with Max Payne and the opposite of SUPERHOT, where, instead of needing to stop moving in order to to survive, you need to keep moving at all times. Stop for even a couple of seconds and you will die. Severed Steel is chaotic, explosive and a lot of fun. There is a story in here, but it’s not really worth paying attention to, with the game being fully aware of that, with not a lot of cutscenes and basically no lore to focus on. Instead, the entire focus has been put into the gameplay.
You can wall run, slide, dive and double jump your way across the game’s arenas, and you will be doing a lot of it. Bullets come in fast and hard, and you can only take so many hits before you die and have to respawn. Doing these trick moves allow the character to dodge and combine with a bullet time mechanic. This allows you to chain together moves for ultra-stylish moments. Within the first 15 minutes of the game I launched myself out of a window on an upper floor, took out two enemies, smashed through another window straight into a slide then took out some more enemies. Very quickly this can become effortless though the challenge always remains, especially if you play on Severed Steel difficulty or above. You can’t reload either, so you will need to pick up guns from your enemies or even take their sidearm right from their pocket.
It’s not all-out perfect, and I often found some moments in the gameplay that just needed a little more refinement. Wall-running and mantling can be a bit awkward. There is nothing worse than trying to dive through a narrow window diving from a train to another train only for the character to climb up onto the roof. Thankfully, with such a lightning fast pace, it’s easy to adapt to this, but it’s still a nuisance. Also, your kick mechanic is borderline useless: being able to kick away shields or enemies should be a useful tool but is too inconsistent. I end up just sliding through the shield or jumping over for a glorious flip attack. Even with these issues I loved just about every minute I spent with Severed Steel.
The voxel-based environment is almost completely destructible as well, save from some floors and walls. Windows shatter, walls are left in ruin. Once the shooting ends, the act of looking back and just seeing how much destruction you caused can be an absolute joy. You also have an arm cannon that allows you to break holes into the environments with ease, allowing you to go through multiple floors, surprise enemies by blasting straight through walls they are taking cover behind or just shoot them directly with it. This arm cannon is easily one of the best additions in the game, though I was hoping for more firing modes for it.
The brief two to three hour long campaign might be incredibly short, but just like SUPERHOT, the gameplay is just too good and this ramps up the replay value significantly, trying to be as stylish as possible and just having fun with these small sandbox environments. Though the meat of the game is actually in the arcade mode, a highly replayable mode that has you going through each map with challenges to get the highest score to level up. Levelling up here lets you choose your starting weapon, unlocks more maps and even allows you to apply certain modifiers to change the game’s behaviour. There’s tons of fun to be had and with a level editor (currently in beta as of time of writing) and Steam workshop support, Severed Steel should be entertaining for a while to come.
Visually, Severed Steel is a unique looking game. Not quite as simple as the likes of SUPERHOT, though, with more detail and environmental interactions. The heads-up display is also useless. In these frantic moments I wasn’t really aware of my health bar, I was mostly looking at the green (you can change this) UI element near the gun on my screenshots. Furthermore, a “weapons remaining” meter is indicated by a colour on the side of a weapon instead of a normal ammo counter which would do the trick just as well if not better.
It might be a bit too short, and its UI could have been reworked, but I didn’t mind. I had a blast with Severed Steel‘s ultra fast-paced movement-based shooting, complete chaotic vibe and endlessly replayable arcade mode. If you are looking for a game that just drops into a map and tells you to have fun with it and its mechanics, then Severed Steel is an easy recommendation.
Voxel-based destruction and simple (but unique) deisgn choices are sadly let down by an awful UI.
It’s a bit like SUPERHOT but instead of never moving in order to play your action, you do the opposite: you never stop moving.
Dark synth soundtrack that brings you into the experience but occasionally overpowers what’s happening onscreen.
Fun Factor: 8.0
Severed Steel‘s campaign might be short but there’s an endless amount of fun to be had in its chaotic gunfights.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Severed Steel is available now on PC.
Reviewed on RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X, 16GB RAM @ 3440×1440.
A copy of Severed Steel was provided by the publisher.