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Review: Severed Steel (PC)By Ofisil At 20.08.2022 16:22

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Steel's story isn't really a story. A couple of static screens show her "wake up" inside a strange facility with Tron-like neon lights and flat, monochromatic surfaces, show her discovering a cannon that fits like a glove (literally) to her severed arm, and generally it shows her journey towards the exit. That's it. It's so minimal that even fans of such a narrative style will be disappointed, as they won't get much content to work with. Some might say that this about pure action, so a story isn't necessary. Not really. A story, even a paper-thin one, can be found in the vast majority of video games, for the simple reason that it helps with immersion, giving you a purpose to do all that shooting.

Thankfully, the action is quite good and almost makes up for the lack of a storyline. Steel can do more than just run, jump, and shoot. She can slide, make a dive move, wall-run and wall-jump, kick enemies, and grab their fallen weapons in milliseconds. The most important thing, however, is her ability to slow down time. As she is always at a disadvantage, with multiple enemies, and very small health bar, she really needs her bullet time. Oh, and she can also turn invulnerable while doing slides, dives, and wall-runs. In other words, one must keep doing acrobatics and never stop moving.

In a typical ten-second-long session of Severed Steel you can run towards a bunch of enemies, slide-kick the first while you shoot down the rest, throw your empty weapon at another one, grabbing a new one from your dead foes, dive into a glass wall, shoot two-three more soldiers… and then use a second or two to catch your breath. The gun-fu here is frenetic, but luckily the simple art style and bright colour indicators manage to "ease" players into the whole thing. There are some moments of confusion, usually when you pull of many intricate acrobatics while rotating your aim at crazy angles, and sometimes things don't work exactly as they are supposed to, but as a whole this won't create any major problems.

So, the action is adrenaline-pumping, and the fact that health and bullet time only replenish through combat pushes players to always be on the move. In conclusion, this is tons of fun - but now it's time to talk about the flaws, or more accurately, the one flaw. This is in some dire need of some additional content. As it is, there's the campaign mode, and then there's 'Firefight' which is the campaign all over again, but with challenges to complete, something that should really, really be a part of the main deal, and not a separate thing altogether. Mechanics-wise Steel will soon get an upgrade in the form of an arm cannon that open holes in walls… and that's all there is to say, honestly. As fun as the gunfights are, they never really "evolve."

There's no feeling of progression. Steel just moves from stage to stage, doing the same thing again and again. There are no new things to learn, no new traps to avoid, no new enemies, apart from some slightly more resilient goons that carry more powerful boomsticks. Severed Steel is repetitive, and it's a shame, because anyone experienced with video games will be able to see how brilliant this could be with just a little more work, like a meatier campaign, one or two additional modes, and a few more weapons, power-ups, etc, which could help spice things up. At its current state this is more like a very good Early Access title, rather than a complete product worthy of its price-tag. In case the developer is reading this, know that our creation has an enormous amount of potential. A sequel or a major upgrade would make this critic extra happy.

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Final Score
The acrobatic shoot-fest known as [i]Severed Steel[/i] is, without any exaggeration, tons of fun. Sadly, while it could be one of the genre's classics, it is barebones in terms of content. There simply aren't many things to do here, and there's almost no incentive to go back to it. It needs a better campaign, more varied weaponry, enemies, as well as some extra stuff, be it power-ups, or alternative game modes. Or at least a better price-tag…

6

/10

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