I've played a lot of shooters this year. Some were released in 2021, while others launched in years passed. So, when I say that Severed Steel is the most fun I've had with an FPS in a long time, you better believe it's not hyperbole. Combining slow motion, slick movement, and a fun variety of weapon types, you'll feel more powerful than the Doom Slayer or Master Chief the instant you pull the trigger.
Slick Shootin' in Severed Steel
Images of SUPERHOT immediately come to mind when you begin in Severed Steel. There are various, themed levels all unique from one another, but they aren't overly large and feel like arenas for your mayhem. Words pop on the screen telling you to "kill everyone" or fulfill some other sort of objective, like burning down an entire house with a flamethrower (which is, by the way, very fun). Other than that, there's really no story to speak of; rather, Severed Steel is all about shooting.
Severed Steel excels in its movement, which is at the core of its gameplay. Sliding, wall running, and diving forward or backward isn't just to look cool or traverse the environments in this shooter. It's necessary to move in such a way because as long as you're doing any of the aforementioned actions, bullets cannot hurt you. If you run around on foot taking out enemies like some foot soldier in Call of Duty, you'll get torn to shreds in seconds.
It feels incredible to enact these parkour moves, all the while shooting at enemies that can sometimes number in the dozens. You feel invincible at times, even though you yourself are quite vulnerable to gunfire. As long as you don't stop, you'll be just fine. And believe me, sliding and jumping around feels so good too. There are so many different ways to move around that one might think it becomes difficult to keep track of everything, but I never felt that to be the case at all.
The second vital component to Severed Steel's fulfilling gameplay is the use of slow motion. You can go very fast in Severed Steel, and as such that makes it a bit more difficult to aim. To facilitate your efforts, slow motion allows you to aim properly and make the kills you need. While slow motion does, yes, slow the game world down, it doesn't actually make Severed Feel like a sluggish shooter. It's difficult to explain, but think of SUPERHOT: time moves only when you do, yet everything feels like a rush at the same time.
To aid in your efforts, you'll be equipped with a multitude of guns. There's a shockingly good variety of weapons in Severed Steel. There are pistols of all kinds, my favorite being a Desert Eagle doppelganger that has a lot of oomph to it. Several shotguns can be equipped, as well as submachine guns and assault rifles, too. All of these are taken from the corpses of your enemies. Ammo also runs out fast in Severed Steel, and not every enemy has the same weapon. As such, players get to experience a wide range of weapons that helps the gameplay stay fresh.
Unfortunately, the campaign is exceedingly short. I was able to beat it in roughly two hours over two sittings, but I definitely could have finished it in one sitting if I wanted to. There's a second mode called Firefight which adds just a little bit to the playtime. Firefight has players kill all the enemies in a level while racking up as many points as possible. There are bonus objectives to gain more points, too, like getting two kills in a single dive.
You'll level up your firefight rank and unlock more weapons and levels to start with, as well as neat modifiers. Modifiers could be anything from making the lighting of levels to be spookier or even unlimited ammo. It's fun to fiddle around with these levels and unlock everything, but in total it still took me around 2 hours to complete everything. Overall, Severed Steel is extremely brief. I salivate at the thought of more content, but there's not a lot to go back to at the moment.
Severed Steel is One Shiny Game
Severed Steel definitely has a slick, clean aesthetic to it. Environments are without a lot of decoration and I get heavy "evil corporation" vibes from these levels. Some later levels throw in Japanese Zen flavors, too. It's not overly detailed, but that works in Severed Steel's favor what with all the destruction and mayhem.
There's one extra tool in your arsenal that really makes a difference in Severed Steel. You're equipped with a grenade launcher that can blow holes in walls, which can be handy in creating a new doorway or just taking out baddies. Yes indeed, this is a game with a destruction system. It's not quite as robust as Battlefield since you're not going to blow an entire house down, but using voxel-based destruction allows for some fun scenarios.
For example, I could see an enemy highlighted above me. Using my grenade launcher drops him through a hole I made, allowing me to take him out with ease. Some of the more powerful guns also create visible holes in walls. By the end of a level, you're not going to have those clean environments I was talking about. There's going to be bullet holes everywhere, large craters from your grenades, and just utter chaos everywhere.
With physics such as this, performance might drop a bit in some areas. It's the nature of the voxel-based system -- it can be taxing. It's nothing too intense for my system, but for those with an older machine, adjusting game settings might be necessary. On the other hand, DirectX 12 is an option and lets players enable raytraced reflections as well as DLSS. While other games I don't have a problem with DirectX 12 and some amount of raytracing, Severed Steel's usage of this technology tanks my performance significantly. I saw no performance gains from using DLSS, and overall it ran way worse on this mode. The simple solution would be to use whichever runs best on your system.
While the graphics look fine but don't necessarily "wow" me, the soundtrack far exceeds my expectations. The genre is described as "dark electronic," which is one I'm not entirely familiar with. It's got a proper science fiction feel to it, with gritty and almost somber melodies. There are tracks that really ramp up and excited me as I played, enhancing the action-packed experience overall. This soundtrack is extraordinarily good. There's a neat little option to shuffle through different tracks in the pause menu, so there does seem to be an emphasis on music in this title.
Severed Steel | Final Thoughts
It's not often you find a game that excels in everything it sets out to do, but Severed Steel exists. It's an incredibly smooth shooter despite the many different ways you can move. The absolutely superb soundtrack is the perfect way to complement the action. Although it's a very brief experience, every single level sent adrenaline into my veins. If you can find a game that makes me feel as jazzed as Severed Steel, savor every moment. Who knows? Maybe Severed Steel will be that game for you, too.
TechRaptor reviewed Severed Steel on PC with a code provided by the publisher.
- Action is an Adrenaline Rush
- Spectacular Dark Electronic Soundtrack
- Voxel-based Destruction Creates Fun Mayhem
- Very Short Runtime
- DirectX 12 Performance Isn't Great