The first person shooter genre, with the exception of multiplayer titles and a few sacred monsters of the genre (the Far Cry, Doom or Serious Sam series), has had better times. Leaving aside the hybrid RPGs, in recent years the number of exponents of the category has decreased, even if in the very last period things seem to be improving, as evidenced by the excellent Deathloop and the next Halo Infinite. For this reason those of the old guard have approached with some interest a Severed Steel, a title that takes inspiration from FEAR, but also from Mirror’s Edge and Superhot.
Having entered the early access phase in April last year, the project by the independent studio Greylock is finally available in its final version on Steam, GOG and Epic Game Store, waiting for the console versions that will arrive at a later time. Behind the project is Matt Larrabee, a former high school computer teacher and former Morrowind modder.
Let’s find out in ours Severed Steel review if the wait has paid off.
Protagonist without arm
As often happens in FPS, the history it is a mere pretext. The protagonist is Steel, a purple-haired spy, who wakes up without his left arm. Determined to take revenge on those who mutilated her, she launches in search of the culprit, going up from the slums where she was imprisoned to the top of the building where the final battle awaits her. Considering the vein to which Severed Steel belongs, we cannot complain of so much flatness, but the presence of some cut scenes in place of the simple comic tables would have added thickness and comprehensibility to the plot.
Freedom of movement is one of the widest: from running on walls to flying kicks, passing through slips, double jumps and shots in mid-air, no movement is precluded to our Steel. What is surprising is there frenzy of action: you can’t afford to stay still for more than a few seconds, both because enemy shots hurt a lot and the only way to restore health is to eliminate opponents, and because only by constantly moving will you be able to survive. The protagonist, in fact, cannot be hit while making certain evolutions. In aid of the aim, lacking the possibility of zooming, there is the bullet time which is activated with the right mouse button, while the central one, placed under the wheel, is used to shoot with the disintegrator cannon which is recovered shortly after the start and which is installed in place of the left arm.
It is a weapon capable of piercing walls and consequently creating alternative paths to those provided by the map. Other distinctive element of the title is the elimination of the reload, an action clearly impossible in the conditions of Steel. In practice, once a gun is emptied, it can be thrown (with surprisingly deleterious effects) at an enemy and then used the one he dropped.
Small levels grow
The story of Severed Steel is divided into ten chapters, for a total of about sixty maps. Here we come to the painful notes: if in the first levels, which serve as tutorials for the basic mechanics, we are not surprised by a certain limitation, going forward we discover how the scenarios are so small that they can be completed in a couple of minutes (sometimes even less). Moral of the story: the professionals will take just over two hours to get to the end credits, while for the others the via crucis of trial and error opens up.
Greylock’s game can be extremely punishing already at the third of the five difficulty levels. Steel’s health is so poor that a bullet can be enough to send her to the cemetery, but the time available for bullet time is also reduced to a minimum, so the thought of being able to use it to correct a too long jump cannot even pass through. the antechamber of the brain.
The precision in eliminating opponents adds to that required to move between platforms, often leading to stressful situations. If you add to this the inability to save during the game that forces you to repeat the level all over, it is easy to realize that we are talking about an experience that is not for everyone.
The enemy army is made up of a fair variety of soldiers, while there is a lack of actual bosses. It’s hard to talk about artificial intelligence, considering they’re basically moving targets, but we can guarantee they can be stinking enough to never hold the trigger. The arsenal in which each weapon returns a feedback distinguishable from all the others is also satisfying – an aspect that is far from obvious in a shooter with frenzied rhythms.
PC System Requirements
- Windows 10 Pro
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
- Memory: 32 GB in RAM
- Scheda video: AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
- Sistema operativo: Windows 10 64 bit
- Processor: Dual Core
- Memory: 8 GB in RAM
- Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750
- Disk: 8 GB of free disk space
- Operating system: Windows 10
- Processor: Dual Core
- Memory: 8 GB in RAM
- Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
Unreal Engine 4 and voxel graphics
The voxel graphics are ideal for focusing on the furious firefights, eliminating all those secondary elements that could distract the player. On the flip side, level design is penalized: the mapsdespite a good variety, they tend to look a little too much alike. The structures are developed both horizontally and vertically, but the restraint of the dimensions gives the impression of always moving inside a cube; it lacks the breadth of breath that would have allowed the levels to express their full potential. The goal is soon said, that is to arrive unscathed at the exit point. Sometimes it may be necessary to destroy servers, in other cases it may be necessary to eliminate enemy hordes, in still others to respect a time limit.
To the campaign is added the firefight, a mode devoted to esports: it is not a question of challenging other players in flesh and blood, but of completing in the shortest possible time thirty maps in which different rules apply to the canonical ones (killing the enemies while walking on walls, perform a certain number of headshots, etc.) to be able to enter your name in the online rankings.
Precious theeditor of levels that, although still in beta at the time of the review, has already been used by the small but active community created around the title. Last words for the techno soundtrack created by the Indiana composer Floating Door: really nice. In particular, the song Pugachev’s Cobra seems almost wasted on an independent video game.
With our reference system we did not experience frame rate drops to 4K resolution with maximum detail, but it should be noted that Unreal Engine 4 is quite expensive and slowdowns may occur on older video cards.
Tested version PC Windows
Epic Games Store,
Severed Steel is a shooter that makes the rhythm of the action its raison d’etre. There is no time to think, you have to move continuously and with great coordination: at the highest difficulty levels it proves to be a testing ground even for the most savvy players. Too bad for the maps, too compressed and lacking in personality also due to the adoption of voxel graphics, which however prove to be absolutely adequate for the gameplay. The game, albeit short, can be punitive bordering on frustration, which could turn away the simple fans of the genre.
- Fast-paced action
- Challenging level challenging
- Duration of the campaign
- Sometimes too small maps
- A slightly more structured story wouldn’t have hurt