Developer: Greylock Studio
Genre(s): FPS, Action, Parkout
Platform: PC (More platforms in the future)
Age Rating: N/A
Release Date: 17/09/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Severed Steel is a high-octane parkour FPS that combines slow-motion combat with exhilarating speed but does the game provide smashing success or did it fail to go out with a bang? Find out in this Rapid Review.
A gun-toting assassin enters a room full of forty unnamed adversaries. Across a scientific environment, each opponent is taken out one by one. Glass is smashed, enemies recoil from impact and the sleek scientific hallways and labs are littered with remnants of the battle. Whilst this may sound like an exhilarating scene from your favourite action movie, this is Severed Steel and you control everything. Like many action films, Severed Steel is limited on narrative. Whilst there are the occasional illustrations in between the six chapters, the main objective is usually that X number of bad guys must be killed before you are.
These instructions are provided at the beginning of each level in a fashion similar to Superhot with instructions such as “Kill them all” or “Find the prototype”. “’Hack the computers” isn’t a request for a stealthy infiltration of an enemy stronghold, slowly waiting for files to transfer over the encrypted network. No, in Severed Steel the best way to ‘hack’ is to fire your gun and cause the computer to explode in a very efficient method of data erasure. It’s this no-nonsense approach to objective completion that was just one of many ways that helped to boost my adrenaline across the high-octane four hours of gameplay.
Quickly Does It
Severed Steel’s gameplay is high-speed and it makes no apology of it. The frequent presence of first-person wall-running, sprints, slides and flips mean that this game probably isn’t the best choice for those who suffer from motion sickness. On the other hand, the sheer fluidity of movement is where Severed Steel seriously excels. Taking on a Mirror’s Edge inspired quality to motion, I never became bored of leaping from a wall, smashing through a window before landing directly on my enemy with a slide kick. Whilst enemies lack the same movement skillset as the playable protagonist (appropriately titled Steel), they are still quick to fire their weapons and the sheer amount of incoming fire means that an additional ability may be required to help avoid the bullets. Speaking of which…
Slowly Does It
In addition to the no-nonsense objectives, Severed Steel’s inclusion of slow-motion also reminded me of Superhot. By holding the right button on my mouse, time became still and I could manoeuvre myself out of enemy fire or control my aim to shoot an enemy mid-fall. The slow-motion ability was the perfect complement to the usual frenzy of the game and I loved stylishly taking down enemies with my guns to refill my health and ability meter.
Speaking of guns, Severed Steel offers a variety of weapon choice; from flame-throwers to SMGs and even though barehandedly slide tackling an enemy felt so good, I was always on the lookout for a weapon in hand. Severed Steel encourages variety in weapon choice so guns cannot be reloaded and are dropped when the bullet supply runs empty. Fortunately, new weapons are automatically picked up from the bodies of fallen enemies which meant less time managing my arsenal and more time shooting.
Visually, Severed Steel’s inclusion of ray-tracing added a wonderful shine to the glossy level design. On my RTX 2070, the game ran flawlessly above 60 FPS with RTX enabled aside from one level with a high amount of shiny materials to reflect upon. This high framerate was excellent when playing the fast-moving game with extremely responsive controls and visual feedback. Your mileage may vary, but the game felt well optimised on my machine. Some additional design touches benefitted my experience too! For example, I could see enemy positions through walls and enabling slow-motion provided a bright visual filter with slowed down audio. Soundwise, Severed Steel is fantastic with a phenomenal electronic beat pulsing me through the levels. With a soundscape of bullet fire and shouts of “enemy spotted”, I could easily immerse myself as being the starring role in the latest Keanu Reeves or Bruce Willis picture.
How Long to Beat
In terms of length, it’s best to consider Severed Steel as being a playable action film. The main campaign took me a little over three hours playing mostly at standard difficulty. It’s great to see a variety of difficulty options; both in terms of decreasing and increasing the challenge from its base value. Though, because of the shortness in the campaign, I’d recommend playing at a level slightly above your comfort zone. Restarting a level is frustrating but completing it after several tries is immensely satisfying!
In addition to the campaign, there is also a beta-level editor with a promise of future updates post-launched. I played around with the editor and its cubic drag and drop system worked well enough for placing enemies around the playable area (or letting them fall to their death in my case) but I didn’t have the patience to construct an entire level. With Steam Workshop support, there are already some interesting designs being available for download.
Finally, ‘Firefight’ offers an arcade-inspired mode with modifiers that unlock as the player progresses through the mode. Whilst the majority of my review time was spent on the main campaign, it’s great to see the level editor and Firefight providing more opportunities for gameplay. Ultimately, I was satisfied by the gameplay of the main campaign but extra playtime isn’t going amiss!
Frenetic and kinetic in the best possible way, Severed Steel’s fluid movement and impactful combat combine with a truly incredible electronic soundtrack to create a high-octane experience from beginning to end. For all action fans, Severed Steel is an easy recommendation.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.