Toronto’s Drinkbox Studios built a name for itself with the release of Guacamelee, a side-scrolling, critically acclaimed throwback featuring unique Mexican culture influenced visuals, that due to its popularity, eventually landed on almost every modern video game platform.
But rather than build another title that falls into the same genre, Drinkbox is taking a chance and in a different direction – albeit with a similar art style – the studio is creating an entirely different kind of throwback with their next title called Severed.
Drinkbox Studios’ co-founder Graham Smith describes Severed’s gameplay as a mix between the Zelda series’ exploration, Infinity Blade’s touchscreen-focused combat, and classic first-person dungeon crawlers such as the early Ultima series. After going hands-on with the title for a limited period of time, the best way to describe Severed is that it’s Fruit Ninja, but with a significant amount of additional depth.
Severed tasks players with moving methodically through static screens from a first-person perspective while fighting foes via methodically placed swipes across the PlayStation Vita’s touchscreen, occasionally “severing” their enemies’ limbs in the process.
At Gamescom 2015 in Cologne, Germany, Smith discussed Severed’s recent delay, specific gameplay features his studio is adding to the game to ensure it offers a more “in-depth experience,” as well as hinting at the prospect of Severed eventually coming to other gaming platforms, particularly Android and iOS.
“We went back to the drawing board, because when we tried to take the demo that we showed at the PlayStation Experience to a full game, we were finding that there were some limitations. Enemies were too simple and they needed to have more depth so that we could get better longevity,” said Smith.
“Another thing that’s changed is the way you sever enemies is by filing up your sword meter. Previously you used to have to tap on an enemy. Now you just have to kill them. You don’t ever spend that charge and can keep it for the entire fight once you’ve built it up, which feels more satisfying. People were confused with how you used to have to tap to activate it. We’ve removed a lot of the complexity [in combat].”
Smith also says that the game’s upgrade tree is significantly more complex than it was in previous builds and that bosses now give players new abilities after defeating them. Furthermore, similar to the studio’s last title, Guacamelee, powers are now useful during combat as well as exploration.
“One thing that’s changed is we have dungeons that have multiple floors now, so it allows us to work in three dimensions. This means the puzzles are a little bit more difficult,” said Smith.
During a brief demonstration, Smith showed off a new flash attack that stuns enemies while in combat, allowing players to disable specific foes and concentrate attacks more efficiently. Smith also says that foes will now drop useful items during combat, introducing another variable to Severed’s battles.
In terms of Severed potentially landing on other consoles, Smith remains cryptic, but does suggest it will likely happen at some point in the future, although he emphasizes that the Toronto-based studio is only concentrating on releasing the game for the PlayStation Vita right now.
“I think eventually you’ll find it on pretty much any device that makes sense,” says Smith.
“The Vita is really well suited for the game because it feels good using the d-pad. It will be good for us to get it out on a strong platform first.”
Severed is set to be released on Sony’s PlayStation Vita at some point in 2016.