Taking a look at new releases on Steam I saw something that caught my eye, Severed Steel as a name certainly stands out, then upon clicking the listing the visual style and gameplay also stood out quite a bit – horrible electronic music aside. So how is this indy? Is it all style no sizzle?
There isn’t too much to the story, you wake up with a missing arm and seem to seek vengeance. It is told in quite a nice comic book panel style. That is pretty much it though, simple but effective, it is all a game like this needs.
I’m going to get this out of the way quickly, I abhor the music. I am not a fan of electronic music in any sense so the first thing I did was mute this. I imagine if you do like electronic music this is perfectly fine though and maybe even good.
Now this is where I think the game shines, though it is by no means flawless, it goes for something and mainly hits it. As someone going back through the original Matrix trilogy I really like what you can do here. You can wall run, slow down time, kick, slide, and dive in the air. The campaign consists of very short levels that take 3-5 minutes to complete, often consisting of an objective such as destroy a generator then escape. This may sound very mundane but given the stylized nature of the gameplay, the multiple difficulties and how difficult the game is, it is much more fun than I expected, given that on paper it is so generic. This is thanks to how much of a badass you can be, even though the general gameplay has a bit of an over-reliance on slow-mo.
It feels really good do go into a wall run, slow down time pop a headshot, then double jump into a dive dodging bullets and taking as many enemies down as possible in slow mo. There is decent weapon variety even if enemy variety is a bit sparse. There is also an arcade mode with multiple mutators. It is suggested you complete the campaign before hand and while that does give you some nifty unlocks you can go straight into arcade mode.
You unlock levels in arcade mode by earning points, your points from each successful level you clear carry over, and levels also have challenges to complete in addition to mutators to keep things fresh. While it will undoubtedly get boring after a while, the mutators intend to keep it fresh. It’s a nice little way of just enjoying being a slow mo bad-ass while also killing a little time.
There is a momentum system for you to master. Sliding downstairs increases momentum and so on, and thus there is a little bit of depth here if you want to go for top scores and perfect runs. This is great as it adds a bit to the longevity. There is also a level editor mode currently in beta, I can not wait to see what the community can come up with and this may solve the game’s longevity problems entirely.
The game has a genuine visual flair though it’s use of colours, even if the graphics are very simple. It also supports RTX reflections and DLSS. DLSS implementation in this game is actually pretty good, which I imagine is due to the simplistic nature of the graphics. The RTX Reflections don’t add too much, but they are nice to witness in slow-mo and performance on a 3080 is actually very good, staying above 60 for the most part with no DLSS at 1440P and generally 80-140 with DLSS on quality. Altough my 8700K got very hot peaking at 81C during loading…
Severed Steel is a great little indy that offers a bit of matrix like gun play and movement, it’s relatively unique and tries to do something a bit different amongst a slew of generic trend chasing indies. My only complaint is it is a bit short on the campaign front and the price is a bit too steep in my opinion on steam it is priced at £17.54 currently with 10% off, or 26.09 Canadian Dollars and 22.49 USD. It’s not grossly over priced but it shouldn’t be more than £15 in my opinion. A minor nitpick I know but pricing is key and I think they may be a bit too optimistic here.
All that being said it is a very fun game, and if you are in a matrix like mood, love wall jumping, sliding and slow-mo head shots this is definitely the game for you.