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Video Game / Severed

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Severed is a 2016 PlayStation Vita exclusive by Drinkbox Studios, creator of Guacamelee!. The game was later ported to the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and iOS devices. You play as Sasha, a young warrior girl who has lost her family and one of her arms, and who finds herself in a mysterious world filled with monsters and oddities. Her goal is to find her family so they can escape back to their own world together. To do so, she must fight through waves of grotesque creatures and explore mazes filled with devious traps.

And so follows what would have happened if Guillermo del Toro had made Fruit Ninja instead of attempting to make Silent Hills. A heavily Mexican-inspired setting and main character steeped in forboding, alien atmosphere, punctuated by touchscreen-enabled slashing and blocking, itself inspired by Infinity Blade. "Severed" describes not only Sasha's dismembered state, but a core gameplay mechanic where she cuts off parts from the monsters she fights in order to enhance her abilities.

This game provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: The map screen tracks what percentage of rooms Sasha has explored in each area, as well as the number of secrets she's found. Many secrets can't be revealed until Sasha comes back with an ability acquired later, though.
  • Ability Required to Proceed: Not only does this limit progress of the main plot, but it also blocks off some side content, forcing the completionist player to backtrack. Most of these overlap with Plot Coupon That Does Something, granting Sasha new abilities in battle.
  • Achievement System: There are a total of 25 in-game achievements; reflecting the game's origins on the PS Vita, they're divided into bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Some of the names and descriptions are locked until completed, as they'd spoil plot-relevant events otherwise. A couple achievements require some skill with the combat system, but none are especially grueling to unlock.
  • Action Girl: Even with one arm, Sasha has very little hesitation in cutting through hordes of monsters on her quest to find and rescue her family.
  • Ambiguous Situation: We never find out the identity of the Stranger who gives Sasha her weapon, the nature of the Other World, why Sasha needs her family's bodies, how she lost her arm, how her arm turned into... that, and about 10 other questions about that arm.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Sasha loses her right arm before the game's actual start. When she gets it back, it's some kind of technicolor monstrosity that grants an attack buff. Then she has to cut it off again when she realizes the Dragon is influencing it to overpower her.
    • Sever Mode allows Sasha to do this to slain monsters and claim the body parts as materials to upgrade her abilities.
  • Badass Boast: The song that plays during the ending and credits effectively serves as one for Sasha.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: Collecting five Heart Pieces causes them to merge into a completed heart, which floats in the middle of the screen, still beating. You have to tap on it several time to make Sasha consume it piece by piece.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sasha gets a couple of warnings that her goal is ultimately futile. Turns out there's no way to save her family. The most she can do is give them a proper burial and find the strength to move on.
  • Big Bad: The dragon seems to be this as it seems to be the master of the world.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Compared to Drinkbox's other games, though it's still not overly graphic. Enemies bleed when you slash them, you can cut off their limbs and collect them to upgrade abilities, and major power-ups involve eating organs and wearing the remains of slain bosses. The game has a very visceral feel to it, to the point where it feels like it would be the main theme of the game.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": They may sound like crows, and even act like them to some degree, but they don't quite look like the ones we know!
  • Charged Attack: Sasha acquires this ability about halfway through the game. It breaks through orange rocks, which show up not just during exploration but also on some monsters. Speaking of which, some monsters will occasionally prepare a charged attack, which Sasha can only parry with her own charged attack.
  • Combatant Cooldown System: For the monsters, not for Sasha. They can be divided into two main categories: (A) monsters who remain idle and then fill up their meter in 1-2 seconds, and (B) monsters who slowly build up their meter over a longer period, but can be attacked to whittle it back down. Monsters with the "Speed Up" buff get ready to attack much sooner, naturally.
  • Cool Gate: These make up a good portion of the Mountain Ghost Town. Several of them are defunct until Sasha retrieves the gemstone that fits into the slot on top. There's also an area that uses these as Magical Mystery Doors.
  • Counter-Attack: When a monster rears back to attack, the only way to avoid the hit is for Sasha to parry with her sword. Doing so requires swiping the touch screen in the direction of the attack after the monster's limb glows red. Do it too early or at the wrong angle, and the game will notify you as Sasha gets hit.
  • Cowardly Lion: The two-headed crow warns Sasha about the Citadel's dangers and is terrified of it... but it shows up to help her solve a puzzle that would have otherwise left her trapped, despite this providing no benefit toward it whatsoever.
  • Creepy Crows:
    • The first part of the game involves Sasha looking for her younger brother, who has been taken to "the Domain of the Crows" to be eaten. Said crows may be dark-colored birds, but otherwise don't quite look like crows.
    • Averted with the double-headed crow Sasha meets early on. Each head has its own personality, and they offer friendly advice and small talk. They even decide to help Sasha in one of the dungeons!
  • Creepy Good: The Stranger is an unsettling cloaked figure with an Eyeless Face, coral-like antlers, sharp teeth, and utters a low groan like a death rattle when speaking. However, he is the one to give Sasha her sword and appears whenever she returns home to give her cryptic advice that is meant to steer her toward a better path in facing her grief.
    • The two-headed crow is a Toothy Bird that doubts Sasha's quest from the beginning and is interested in feeding on her corpse once she inevitably dies. As Sasha preserves ton her journey, the crow softens up to her and gives her tips on how to progress, even directly aiding her in the Citadel later on.
  • Darker and Edgier: Again, compared to Drinkbox's other games. Even if Mutant Blobs Attack! has some pretty heavy imagery (the consumption of the human race, the earth and eventually the entire solar system) it still has a mostly comedic tone, while this game takes itself much more seriously (not to say it's devoid of comedy) and the events surrounding the characters aren't Played for Laughs here.
  • Dark World: There are a few side areas which involve Sasha using her magic to enter a parallel version of the current dungeon floor. They're rather brief and usually involve her toggling a switch she can't reach in the "normal" world to solve a puzzle.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: There's no "game over" screen and no death counter. If Sasha is killed by a monster or walks off a cliff, the screen fades to black and player returns to their last auto-save, which is typically no more than a couple steps back.
  • Death of a Child: Sasha's little brother is dead before she can reach him. And judging by the... coral-like things going in and out of his body, he didn't meet a pleasant end.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Suffice to say the strange world Sasha and her family winds up in is populated by such creatures. Each enemy is more bizarre or nightmarish than the last in terms of design and this especially goes for the bosses:
    • The crow leader which has three eyes and whose minions have mouths for heads and combine to form an imposing golem
    • The Cryptolith, the hideous demon that slaughtered the mountain village and trapped Sasha's father in crystal.
    • The dragon. It has a truly nightmarish design with two mouths stacked on top of each other, eight eyes with one resting inside its mouth, and a set of various powers including the ability to summon ghostly hands to attack.
    • Sasha's severed arm. It looks like a tie-dye in perpetual motion, provides a serious buff to Sasha's attacks, and can overpower her if she overuses the boost. The final boss can induce that last part, forcing Sasha to cut it off, at which point the boss eats it and mutates into its final form.
  • Eldritch Location: The Other World. It appears to be a dark, functionally inescapable version of the Land of The Dead from Guacamelee, reflecting the real word in that Sasha's home is perfectly recreated in it. Otherwise, the world is an enigma to the audience.
  • Enter Solution Here: The Crow Temples have a few side areas with numbered murals. Towards the end of the dungeon, the murals reappear without labels, and Sasha can get a power-up by lighting the torches in front of each in the correct order.
  • Evil Hand: When Sasha's arm begins to overpower her, it reaches toward the screen as if trying to strangle her. If the final battle is any indication, its power likely comes from the Dragon.
  • Feathered Fiend: Your little brother has been kidnapped by crows! Are you a bad enough chica to save him? Then they flock together into a large golem for Sasha to fight.
  • First-Person Ghost: Interacting with objects involves the use of the touch screen, and doesn't show Sasha reaching out to manipulate them. Then again, she only has one arm, and she's already holding her sword all the time.
  • Go for the Eye: Quite a few monsters have their eyes as their weak point. One late-game variation of the monster type with the rotating shields is just a giant eyeball for the main body. Another uncommon monster is a four-by-four grid of eyeballs that conceals another, larger eyeball.
  • Golden Ending: A very limited example; there are a few optional events the player can accomplish, which has a minor effect on the ending cutscene. If Sasha finds her family's three mementos, she leaves them on top of the grave she digs for their bodies.
  • Heartbroken Badass: The Wanderer turns out to be one. She's carrying around the corpse of her dead lover, as shown when Sasha parries her attack and the corpse falls out of the basket on her back. She sulks in her house for the rest of the game after that, reminiscing about him before asking to be left alone.
  • Heart Container: Collecting five Heart Pieces or Brain Pieces increase Sasha's maximum Health and Mana, respectively. Well, once she finishes devouring the completed organ, anyway.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: The main method of healing is for Sasha to pick up and eat gourd-like fruits which are found fairly frequently throughout the world. If she finishes a monster battle with low health, it will often drop a fruit as well. Each fruit is good for multiple bites, each restoring a bit of health, so the player can drop a half-eaten one after topping off and return for it later.
  • Item Farming: There's one specific area late in the game where the player can trigger as many monster encounters as they want, allowing them to farm parts for upgrades. It probably isn't necessary for most players, but it's good to know it's there.
  • Life Meter: Appears as a green bar extending from Sasha's portrait. It can be extended by collecting Heart Pieces. At the start of the game Sasha is already knocked down to half health, indicating the ordeal she just went through.
  • Locked Door: Occasionally Sasha finds a doorway blocked by a wall of flesh where the lock is a circular, toothy maw. The key is some sort of multi-tentacled thing with the same type of mouth. The Citadel complicates these puzzles with purple barriers that teleport the key away from Sasha, forcing her to find an alternate route to the door.
  • Mana Meter: Appears as a purple bar underneath the life meter, once Sasha acquires her first magic spell. It can be extended by collecting Brain Pieces. Also, it refills rapidly outside of combat, so the player can just wait a few seconds to ensure they're good to go for the next encounter.
  • Mirror Scare: One of the first events in the game. Not only does it give the player a good look at Sasha's one-armed state, but she gasps when she realizes the Stranger is standing behind her.
  • Organ Drops: One of the core game elements is killing monsters, cutting off their limbs, and using the collected parts to power up Sasha. Destroying the pottery littered around the world often yields giblets and free monster parts.
  • Power Parasite: Sasha's second magic spell allows her to steal a monster's Status Buff. A later upgrade allows her to steal two at once. Unfortunately, monsters with the Magic Defense buff are immune to this.
  • Pre-existing Encounters: All standard encounters are represented by a black and white flame. They don't move, waiting for Sasha to come to them. They don't respawn, either. Only a handful of encounters aren't telegraphed by flames, but they still depend on the player actively doing something to trigger them.
  • She Who Fights Monsters: Taken rather literally, consuming monster parts makes Sasha into one.
    • This is also heavily implied to be the path that the Wanderer took after losing her lover in order to bury her grief.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: The monster parts Sasha collects through Sever Mode become points on a skill tree to upgrade her offense, defense, and other abilities. Progressing through the plot unlocks new skill trees.
  • Status Buff: After the first dungeon, monsters start appearing with these. There are 5 types:
    • Attack Up (red): Deal more damage to Sasha with their attacks.
    • Defense Up (blue): Take less damage from Sasha's attacks.
    • Speed Up (yellow): Build up their attack meter faster.
    • Health Regen (green): Slowly regain lost health over time.
    • Magic Defense (purple): Immunity to Sasha's magic spells.
  • Super Mode: A late-game upgrade gives Sasha access to Rage Mode, which buffs her damage. Use it for too long at a time, though, and she'll be forced into a cooldown state where she can't do anything for several seconds. Finding her mother's memento helps with that last part. Except for the final boss, which can force the cooldown to happen even if Sasha isn't using Rage Mode.
  • The Worm That Walks: The Crow Golem, a hulking monstrosity composed of several crows around a much larger bird as its core, that Sasha faces as the first boss.
  • Time-Limit Boss: A number of late-game fights involve Sasha fighting in mid-air, which gives her a time limit to defeat all the monsters before the magic keeping her aloft fails and she falls down, forcing her to retry.
  • Vacuum Mouth: The Cryptolith does this, inhaling its minions periodically from the sidelines in order to heal and take their buffs for itself.
  • Womb Level: The Worm Tunnels, which are full of green stomach acid and slowly deplete Sasha's health bar as she travels through the tunnels.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The inhabitants of Crow Island intend to eat Sasha's little brother.