[REVIEW] Severed Steel – One-armed and dangerous

How much carnage can one create with just one upper limb? I dunno, ask Luke Skywalker. No, but seriously. How much blood can one shed when they only have one arm to do it with? Plenty, apparently, as Greylock Studios tries to prove with Severed Steed. This pumped-up ‘slo-mo, dodge and weave’ shooter has us running and gunning with a one-armed femme fatale, to a point where you don’t give a steaming shit why. And that’s probably a good thing because the story is utterly forgettable.

So, first things first. When it comes to frantic shooters, we’ve been rather spoiled lately. On major platforms, shooters like DOOM Eternal and the less-successful Necromunda: Hired Gun made us run for our bodycount. Ghostrunner made us do the same with just a katana, which made it even harder. The speed at which these games threw enemies at you made you go fuck-nuts, but that’s mainly the reason for the rush that we seek.

Then there are games that deliberately take it veeeeeeery sloooooooow. You know, games like SuperHOT and Blaston. These games are less about spraying your way through a horde of foes and more about planning your moves. It’s an entirely different playing field, but still delivers that sense of achievement when you succeed at it.

And then there’s Severed Steel, a fast-paced FPS that meets in the middle. As a one-armed damsel, you’re tasked with eliminating a lot of baddies. The relatively small levels often literally compel you to do so. Why? Keep playing Severed Steel and Greylock will try to explain that to you in a way that hardly interests anyone at a certain point. Because Severed Steel quickly resorts to a feeling of “FUCK ‘EM ALL” and has you blasting your way through it. You don’t even care why you’re doing it.

But honestly, that isn’t a bad thing. Severed Steel shouldn’t be played for a deep narrative. This game is made for people who just want to go gung-ho with style. The more stylish you play the game, the more chances you have of making it out in one piece (except for the severed arm…) Simply running around, poppin’ a few rounds in every poor sap you encounter isn’t going to cut it. Weaving multiple moves together, creating a deadly chain of flourishes while pulling the trigger… that’ll do it for you.

To make those lethal chains of events a little easier to pull off, Severed Steel serves them to you in slow-motion. As you barrel towards an audibly terrified henchman, performing tricks like wall-running and nose-diving slow time around you for a brief moment. Basically, you’re a female version of Max Payne with a cannon for a hand. And when your unfortunate foe has snuffed it in bullet time, you’ll just pick up his weapon and yeet your empty one at some other dude’s cranium. All in one go.

And frankly, that’s all Severed Steel is about. There’s no meaning to it. You just blaze through bite-sized levels and off every brick-shitting goon in the area as you progress. And that’s just fine. It’s even quite fun. Difficult, but fun. Even difficulty is a relative thing since Greylock gives you all the tools to make it less taxing on you. Do you keep falling off of ledges? Disable it. You can’t get enough of that slo-mo action? Make it infinite. It’ll make Severed Steel way too easy if you do all that, but the options are there from the get-go.

But even if you get all these options to cater to your personal needs, there are certain things you can’t change. Even though controls are nice and quick, there’s something about the movement that makes it a little floaty. It’s not a total dealbreaker, but in my case, it was just something that bothered me a bit. Eventually, you’ll get used to it – as you’ll also get used to the soundtrack – but it’s just a little offputting for the first half-hour or so.

But again, who cares? Me, probably. And maybe a few other people who dive too deep into the fine details. The majority of players probably won’t. All they seek is a frenetic FPS to quench their digital bloodthirsty, and Severed Steel offers that for a reasonable price. As long as you’re not expecting a shooter with a lot of depth, you’ll be just fine with this one. It’ll give you a cathartic experience, that’s for sure. And you get multiple opportunities to blow some hostile heads off before they start peeing themselves. Now that’s something DOOM Eternal didn’t give us: peeing demons. What a missed opportunity, Bethesda…

The Frantic
If you want carnage, you'll get carnage
Even with one hand, you instill fear into your brick-shitting adversaries
Chaining together moves and kills gets your adrenaline going
The Drags
Movement feels a little floaty
The storyline is most-forgettable