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New Years 2022 Review - Severance: Blade of Darkness

Can't gift games on steamwhat is the best rated game on steam BLADE OF DARKNESS steam happy new year everyone i thought i would ring in the new year with a review of severance blade of darkness also known as blade the edge of darkness in spain as well as simply blade of darkness in north america and it was released exclusively for pc what youre seeing here is actually the updated digital re-release of the game that was put out in 2021 special thanks to fusion bunny for sending me a copy of this to take a look at sorry its taking me so long to get to it this is a hack and slash action adventure game with some very light rpg elements that was developed by rebel act studios and published by codemasters in february of 2001 exclusively for pc and while it was pretty decently received when it first came out it didnt sell very well the game was just not marketed all that well and as a result it ended up fading into relative obscurity and developing something of a cult following and for quite a while the game was actually pretty difficult to find a copy of until finally it became available on gog for a while at least until codemasters lost the distribution rights and then it had to be pulled from sale again and for quite a while the future of severance blade of darkness was a bit uncertain because we werent really sure if it was ever going to come back because nobody was really sure who the rights belong to until finally a small publisher named sneg managed to acquire the rights and not only was able to re-release the game on gog and steam and such but they were also able to put out an update for the game that dramatically improved compatibility with modern systems as well as added things like widescreen support and thats the version that youre seeing here ive actually had a copy of this game for quite a while but when they re-released it i went ahead and reinstalled the game and not only can i easily confirm that those compatibility updates work like a charm but they also didnt mess with the game this isnt a remaster or a remake its just a re-release of the game with some improvements to stability and especially compatibility with modern systems which was desperately needed considering its a 20 year old game at this point and with added widescreen and gamepad support neither of which were a thing in the original release and if you already owned a digital copy of the game say on gog then they released this update to you for free you didnt have to pay extra for it so bonus points there and of course making the game available for sale again is one thing but what we really want to know here is how is this as a hack and slash game both by the standards of when it first came out in 2001 and how well its held up over the years well lets just go ahead and start delving right into it and find out and like always well go ahead and start with the presentation which runs on a custom engine that at the time was actually quite impressive given that this was made by a fairly small spanish studio i mean sure the textures are pretty low res but theyre rather well done for the era even though they are fairly low res and likewise the modeling was pretty well done for the era although by todays standards obviously it looks rather blocky and the animations were pretty smooth and rather complex for the time as well although obviously if youre used to modern animations then youre gonna notice some clunkiness here and there but those are all things that are relatively standard there are a few things that really do set the graphics apart in this however the first is the lighting effects which sure we have way more advanced lighting techniques now but not only were the lighting and shadow effects rather impressive for 2001 they sometimes even look better than a lot of modern games and i think a lot of that is because modern games have the shadows and lighting as more of a given rather than really putting effort into making sure it pops like it does in severance blade of darkness then of course theres the reflection effect theyve applied to the water which is real time and covers the entire environment including characters and while we think of that kind of thing as a ray tracing exclusive effect these days blade of darkness was doing that kind of thing back in 2001 on directx 8 and not only that but the effect actually still looks really good to this day but then there is the other effect that really sets the visuals in this apart from a lot of other games out there and that is the dismemberment system as you slice and dice your opponents and in turn get clobbered by them youll notice some changes to character textures to reflect the amount of damage theyre sustaining but youll also notice that when you start hitting enemies for lethal damage and you have a bladed weapon you might actually start dismembering them in many different ways because every single character model has numerous points on it that can be dismembered so youll be cleaving your way through enemies into arms and legs and heads and sometimes even halves of torsos will go flying all over the place blood will be spraying everywhere and coating the walls and floors and it all ends up being a pretty impressive display of carnage especially for 2001. the end result of all these visuals is that you have a game that looked very impressive back in 2001 and it actually still holds up pretty well to this day especially considering that retro styled visuals are making something of a comeback people seem to be realizing that just because the game looks old doesnt necessarily mean it looks bad and severance is definitely in that category its a game that certainly looks like it came out 20 years ago but it was done rather well back then and its stylized enough and has enough interesting effects that it still holds up pretty well but then you move over into sound design and thats where things get a bit messier the voice acting is noticeably amateurish at best and most of what youre actually going to be hearing is either the narrator giving you a rundown of whats going on and what the location youre venturing into is and that sort of thing as well as all the various grunts and yells and screams of all four of the player characters as well as all the enemies youre gonna be fighting the few characters you do run into that have things to say to you will often say them in a rather stilted and awkward manner with some of them even having some noticeable flow issues or even some slight sound mixing problems where their lines will kind of abruptly cut off into each other and it just is a bit jarring then of course theres the soundtrack which mostly consists of a bunch of rather generic loops which from what ive seen were supposedly taken from a bunch of royalty-free libraries which is of course a shame because the game certainly could have benefited from having an original soundtrack as it stands though youre really not going to notice the soundtrack all that much at least unless it starts flaring up with something a bit more intense and even then youre probably not going to pay too much mind to it but you know what at least the sound effects are actually pretty decent when youre going around and clobbering enemies and slicing them apart and such like that the sound effects for that sort of thing are actually pretty effective as far as general sound effects though when youre just walking around or jumping and climbing and that sort of thing those really arent done as well so some of those sounds can get fairly repetitive but if you bring the entire presentation together you end up with something that does still hold up reasonably well the sound considerably less so than the visuals of course but theres not really anything all that egregious with regards to the visuals or sound design that really becomes a problem except for some weird technical issues you might run into here and there like i ran into some weird sound glitches when i was going through the game but while those were a bit annoying they certainly werent a deal breaker especially considering they usually sorted themselves out in pretty short order but of course what really matters here are the story and the gameplay and the story in this is that you pick one of four playable characters nagofar the dwarf tukaram the barbarian sargon the knight and zoe the amazon and while each of them will start in a different location and with different reasons for doing what theyre doing ultimately theyll all end up upon the same overall quest you see theres a legend that long ago there was a hero who was chosen by the goddess ayanna to wield a sacred sword and fight the forces of darkness but while the hero was victorious at the time the forces of darkness werent completely defeated and now theyve started to return theyre spilling forth across the land and as these hordes of orcs goblins undead and more are laying waste to the lands its become pretty clear that whatever was leading the forces of darkness back then has returned and someone is going to need to become the new hero and go find the sword of ayana which will allow them to fight and then defeat this ancient evil once and for all and thats pretty much the extent of the story it is relatively light in that regard you do get some descriptions about the locations that youre visiting and their role in the kingdoms and such and as you continue to search for the sword you will gradually learn more about it and learn more about that ancient legend but most of what youre going to be learning is at the beginning and at the very end of a particular area youll get the description about what that area is and what its for and then at the end youll get something that will lead you to the next area most of the characters youll be running into as you progress through the game are all hostile and they dont really say much to you so most of the time youre not going to be running into characters that actually give you anything resembling dialogue or if they do theyll give you some brief information and then promptly die so youll never see them again and while the game does have two different endings depending on whether you found all six magical runes or not you dont really get any major differences between the four characters you can choose except for that initial starting level and then from there on out all the differences are going to be purely from a gameplay perspective but while the story is pretty basic and mostly just exists to give some coherence to where youre going and why youre doing what youre doing the lore does have some interesting aspects to it and the game definitely wears its influences on its sleeve the most immediately obvious of which is going to be the film conan the barbarian but it does also pull some ideas and imagery from other fantasy literature as well as ancient mythology most notably some near eastern mythology which we really dont see a whole lot of in video games unfortunately however it seems like the game really wasnt finished when it originally released and there havent been any patches or updates or expansions ever since then the studio went defunct basically immediately after releasing the game and so were left with an experience where certain elements of the story really do feel like they were rushed theyre not terrible or anything but you cant help but notice certain moments where the story really does feel like it was rushed or like it had certain elements cut out of it just so they could meet the release date but the thing is this game doesnt really focus on its story like i said youll get a bit of story at the beginning of a level and then another bit at the end of a level and then in between that its basically nothing but gameplay there are very few cut scenes in the game except for just to bring your attention to a certain element or maybe if a particularly powerful enemy shows up and it wants to introduce that enemy but apart from those its basically entirely up to the gameplay to carry this game so what exactly is severances gameplay like well like i said you pick one of four playable characters each of which has their own strengths and weaknesses that youll need to keep in mind as you play when you go to the character select screen the very first one that will show up is sargon the knight and while youll often see people say the developers probably put the most effort into sargon because he has access to arguably the most amount of weapons as well as the most amount of combos and special moves if you actually think about it it makes more sense for him to have more moves and a wider selection of weapons than pretty much everybody else because he uses one-handed swords and one-handed maces and has likely had the most actual combat training out of all four of the characters and since swords and mazes are among the most common weapons youll find enemies using it stands to reason youd have a bit more variety there aside from that he has the second highest amount of health in the game next to the dwarf and he can wear the best armor in the game he is the only character among all four of them that can actually wear heavy armor aside from that though hes not an especially fast character nor is he able to do any particularly good dodging hes mostly just doing sidestep maneuvers and as such you may need to rely on shields an awful lot which is a bit of a tricky proposition because shields have hit points and once those hit points bottom out then the shield breaks and youll need to switch to a different one if you even happen to have one anyway which you should because theyre pretty common and the further you get into the game the more dangerous this is going to be for you because obviously the enemies will continue to do more and more damage and eventually youll start running into enemies that can just shatter your shields with a single hit so you need to be quite careful with them but it is easy to see why sargon might be considered the default character because he is a very well-rounded character that is pretty easy to pick up and play although he can be a bit tricky to master the other characters can be selected by moving left and right on the character select screen so im just going to talk about them in a relatively arbitrary order not go far the dwarf has the highest amount of health out of all the characters and hes also the only other character that mainly uses one-handed weapons in his particular case axes and hammers so like with sargon he can use an axe or a hammer in one hand and a shield in the other so youll be relying on the shield quite a lot to defend yourself with him especially since he has the worst mobility out of all four of the characters he moves the slowest although his running cycle is very amusing to look at and his dodges are much like with sargon some fairly quick sidesteps unlike sargon however he cant wear heavy armor he can only wear up to medium armor so he actually has the second best armor in the game while also having the best health this does mean hes relatively tanky compared to the other characters so he can take a bit more punishment than them which is pretty clearly intentional because well hes the shortest character out of the bunch and he has the shortest reach out of the bunch so hes going to be taking some hits when he goes in and tries to hit things in melee to make matters worse for nagelfar he also has arguably the worst lineup out of all of the special moves he barely has any special moves to speak of and the special moves he does have are usually pretty simple and actually a bit difficult to hit with all of this in turn makes nagofara the most difficult character to play in the game moving on we have the two characters that mainly use two-handed weapons and as such dont use shields they also have less health than the other two characters and they both only wear light armor at most so they can really not tank very many hits so well start with the one with the second least amount of health which is tukaram the barbarian he mainly uses two-handed swords but he also has access to a few other two-handed weapons as well like axes and such and as you might expect he mainly relies on dodging attacks and very occasionally parrying them with the two-handed weapons although you need to be quite careful with that because much like with the shields two-handed weapons have hit points and thus if the enemys attacks do enough damage then they can shatter your weapon and youll have to switch to something else as such the barbarian is a bit of a high-risk high reward play style because sure he can dish out a lot of damage and he has a good variety of special moves but he cant really take very many hits so you need to be good on those dodges and make sure that you are avoiding taking hits as much as you possibly can this of course leaves the last character available to you which has the least amount of health and that is zoe the amazon and ironically despite her having the least amount of health shes arguably the easiest character to play because she has the most mobility she is the fastest out of all the characters and while she can only wear up to light armor she not only has the best dodging capabilities out of all the characters able to just roll out of the way of attacks entirely as opposed to others who have to pretty narrowly dodge them by stepping to the side she also uses pole arms which have the longest reach and can actually do quite a lot of damage if you use some of those special moves like with the barbarian she can block with her pole arms if need be but usually she doesnt need to and even then much like with the two-handed swords and axes and such the pole arms all have hit points as well so if enough damage is done to them they will shatter as i said though most of the time youre not going to need to worry about that since you can basically dodge circles around enemies before they can really know whats going on and thus you can just absolutely annihilate pretty much anything youre going up against in pretty short order she does however have one really nasty weakness that is usually just an annoyance more than anything else but there is one part of the game where it does actually become an issue and that is that she has the slowest climbing speed out of all the characters and while this is mostly just a mild annoyance as i mentioned there is one particular section in the game where you do need to move up very quickly and that actually becomes pretty tense when youre playing as the amazon now regardless of which of these characters you choose to play as youre ultimately going to be thrown into an individual level to start with and then once youve completed that introductory level you will be presented with the map screen where youll be able to go to different locations and the way it works is that youll be presented with a choice of a couple of different locations which you can complete in whatever order you want and then once youve completed both of those locations then the game gives you another location you can go to once youve completed that the choices open up again so on and so forth up until you finally get to the end of the game along the way you might find some runes that have been hidden in some of the levels and if you collect all six of those then youll be able to access one final area of the game the abyss and be able to take on the games true final boss and see the games true ending but between the first level and the end of the game what exactly are you going to be doing well this is a hack and slash action adventure game with some light rpg elements and to that end youre going to be mostly wandering around and fighting things solving puzzles avoiding deadly traps finding hidden secrets or tucked away areas and occasionally youll also be doing a bit of platforming here and there of these the platforming is going to be the simplest affair you have three ways of traversing that the first of them is to just do a basic jump forward and that will do a bit of a hop the second one is to do a running jump which will obviously propel you quite a lot further and then the third is if you are up next to an area where you can actually climb up to it and you press the jump button then your character will jump up grab the ledge and pull themselves up avoiding traps is usually pretty simple as well youll have to observe what the trap is actually doing and try to find a way around it and that can involve either simply running through the area faster than the trap can actually be triggered or jumping over the trigger point or using an object whether it be just something you pick up off the ground or even one of your old weapons you dont really need anymore and throwing that into the area to trigger the trap in advance and then you can just run through it as the trap is resetting and sometimes youll have to combine some of these methods to get past the trap then of course theres the puzzle solving which is also pretty straightforward for the most part usually it involves things like going a long way around and winding your way through pretty narrow passages and such to find keys or finding levers or switches that you can throw in order to either open up a new area or solve one part of a puzzle or something along those lines and while none of that is especially complicated it does work pretty well but then there is the real star of the show here the combat now depending on who you talk to youre probably going to run into one of two camps with regards to the combat of blade of darkness the first camp will just be bitching endlessly about how the controls are bad the games too difficult the combat is clunky and awkward and so on and so forth and the other camp will basically tell you that the game has the best hack and slash combat ever made so what exactly is it that makes this combat either so great or so terrible well part of that is the controls you gotta keep in mind that when this game originally released it did not have gamepad support this meant that you were controlling the game entirely with a keyboard and mouse now for somebody whos played pc games as long as i have thats not necessarily going to be a deal breaker but for somebody who say prefers hack and slash games on a gamepad or has only played them on a gamepad that might actually be a deal breaker for them but weirdly enough given the way the game actually controls id be surprised if playing it on a gamepad was actually any better than a keyboard and mouse or even really viable in general because the thing a lot of people arent necessarily going to understand going into severance blade of darkness is that the controls arent organized in a typical hack and slash manner this doesnt play like say rune it doesnt play like the devil may cry games or anything like that it actually plays a lot closer to a fighting game than anything else and by that i mean you have a selection of combos and special moves that you can do all of which require you to put some pretty specific button inputs in and the timing windows for those can take quite a bit of getting used to its not just a matter of having to memorize which inputs youre doing in order to trigger those special moves and special combos and such but youre also having to chain them in with normal attacks which you have different attacks depending on how you move left and right will have different side attacks and if you move forward or backward then that will either attack high or attack low a lot of the special moves in combos are going to require you to do some of these attacks as an opener and then follow it up with the actual special move depending on what the input is and people who arent as used to fighting game inputs are not necessarily going to find that very intuitive as such to get the most out of the combat system in this game you need to take a few moments and get used to the basic controls and the way you can chain attacks together and then once you start getting access to the special moves you need to start trying those out and get used to the timing of them because they are extremely powerful when they connect and as such if you just try to plow your way through the game just thinking about it as a standard hack and slash game youre probably gonna say oh man these controls suck theyre so unintuitive they are so hard to use when in reality its not necessarily that the controls are bad its that they are definitely non-standard and take some getting used to as a result does that mean the controls are clunky argument is completely unmerited no not necessarily there are certain aspects of the controls that are clunky namely things like the way you sprint being double tapping the forward button and the fact that controlling the camera with the mouse can sometimes be a bit wonky there are also a few oddities here and there like the way you control the menus is entirely through keyboard you dont use the mouse for that at all and if you need to get rid of a shield or throw a weapon at something then the way you do that is by having that weapon or shield selected holding the throw button until the charge up meter has gone to whatever youre trying to do and then you press the attack button to actually throw it or drop it or whatever it may well be but heres the thing once you get past the odd controls that are not necessarily all that related to combat usually things like running and jumping or the way you have to throw things or drop things and once you get used to the actual combat controls and how it plays a lot more like a fighting game than a standard hack and slash game youll only have one other major hurdle youll need to overcome and that is the games difficulty now i know that my gameplay footage is probably going to make the game look relatively easy but you have to understand ive played through this game several times i played through it twice casually first as sargon the knight and second as tukaram the barbarian and then i played through it another four times for this particular video just so i could get all the gameplay footage and while i am certainly not anywhere near the best player of severance blade of darkness i definitely know what im doing and as such i probably make the game look fairly easy for somebody whos just starting out and doesnt have the controls down and doesnt have the timings down theyre going to find very quickly that the game is actually quite difficult i mean sure the game is not really all that stingy with the healing items it has a save anywhere feature that allows you to save wherever you want whenever you want although you do only have a limited number of save slots so you need to make sure you dont accidentally overwrite the wrong one and as you continue to progress through the game you will gradually earn more and more experience points by defeating enemies and as you continue to level up you will get more energy that you can use to chain together more attacks or use more powerful special moves and youll also gain additional power which gives you a bit more damage output more defense which allows you to take a bit less damage and you certainly get more health as well but you really cant take a whole lot of damage in this game before going down you do have enough room to make a few mistakes here and there but the further you go into the game the more tough enemies youll find that can do a lot of damage and youll start running into enemies that can poison you as well and that will do damage over time until eventually it gets out of your system which takes a long time to add and if you want to immediately get the poison out of your system then youre going to have to use a life potion which either youre carrying around and you have a very limited number of them or youll have to find one of the smaller increments of 50 or 150 life point potions that are just instant use you grab them and you immediately drink them without being able to put them into your inventory because eating food items will certainly heal up a few hit points but they dont get the poison out of your system so they might be able to keep you going until you can find a life potion but if you have relatively low health and you dont have access to any life potions in your inventory and you cant find any then youre done and this game doesnt have an auto save system so if you happen to die and you havent been saving your game then you can lose a lot of progress add to that the hitboxes are not very generous in this game you have to be pretty precise with all of your strikes as well as the fact that dodging actually has to get you out of the path of the weapon for you to not take damage from it unlike in say i dont know the souls games where you can just abuse iframes to your hearts content and you end up with a legitimately challenging and incredibly engaging combat system where once youve mastered it you can get through pretty much any combat situation in the entire game without taking a single hit and that feels pretty satisfying and unlike a lot of modern hack and slash games especially ones that are most often compared to this like the souls-like genre where you move about the speed of molasses enemy attacks are extremely heavily telegraphed and youre constantly having to abuse iframes just to dodge everything severances combat is fast and it requires precision and while you certainly can abuse certain mechanics like if youre playing as zoe you can abuse the reach of her weapons and how you can just hit enemies without them being able to hit you you still need to be careful because utilizing special attacks and combos and such will use quite a lot of energy and if that bottoms out unlike in say a souls life where it just bottoms out a meter and you can continue just moving around and dodging and such you get immobilized in severance because you have to catch your breath so its not just about being fast and precise its also about being temperate making sure that you dont overextend yourself that you are keeping an eye on what the enemy is doing and responding to it accordingly and while you can certainly say there is some element of that in modern hack and slash games most modern hack and slash games that you can easily compare to severance blade of darkness dont have this level of speed and precision and they certainly dont have the ability to slice enemies limbs off and then pick those limbs up and beat other enemies to death with them which is always immensely satisfying thats certainly not all to say that severance is a perfect game or anything like that it is nothing remotely resembling perfect it has a lot of rough edges and it requires you to be pretty patient with it to really get to the good stuff but once youve gotten those controls and that timing down then you have one of the most satisfying combat systems ever put into a video game not just hack and slash games video games period and its an absolute shame that it was never truly finished that we never saw an actual sequel that could improve upon these mechanics and make them even better and while you might be wondering why i would compare this game to the souls likes its because a lot of people these days are trying to do exactly that when they really shouldnt be i mean after all this is a linear hack and slash game where even though you can go to different locations in whatever order you want youre still ultimately going through the level basically one exact way and while some levels do have certain elements that will fold around themselves most of the time its a pretty straightforward progression theres not some bonfire mechanic where you can go to a certain location and spend experience and upgrade your stats and such you just level up flatly over time each of the four characters has a distinct playstyle and while they can pick up various other weapons that they are not really meant to be using and they can do some basic attacks with them theyre at a significant disadvantage if they do so and with the combat being far more about speed and precision than just working around iframes and being sluggish and non-responsive half the time the combat controls are far more like a fighting game than anything the souls-like genre is even attempting to do and when i look at the grand scheme of video games both before and since severance blade of darkness i havent been able to find anything that was quite like it i found a few things that had a few similarities here and there but there was never really that true blend of hack and slash action adventure with the fighting game style mechanics that made everything feel fast precise and incredibly satisfying like what you get in severance blade of darkness its certainly not a game for everyone you have to spend a fair amount of time getting used to the controls and then on top of that you have to get used to all the timings on all the special moves and such you need to get used to the way you have to dodge attacks you need to get used to being fast and precise potentially even unlearning bad habits from other games that will just get you clobbered in this one and up until the 2021 compatibility instability update it was even a bit of a pain to really get the game working properly on a modern system but once you get past any compatibility issues you might be running into if youre not running the 2021 update anyway and once youve gotten used to those controls and timings youre going to find that even though it was technically unfinished when it originally released and even though theres clearly certain elements of the game that were cut out to meet the deadline and even though the 2021 update does not include the arena mode that the original game launched with and that was just a basic versus multiplayer mode youll still find that the single player experience of severance blade of darkness is one of the best hack and slash games ever made even with all of its rough edges and overall i give it a 4.5 out of 5. like i said its not going to be for everyone but for the people who are able to get into it blade of darkness is one hell of a game and is well worth playing thank you all very much for watching and welcome to the new year of 2022. im going to be taking a look at some games that are definitely going to be pretty interesting going forward this year so stay tuned for all those if you like my content then please consider supporting the channel on patreon all the revenue from that goes directly back into the channel you cant afford to support the channel on patreon or dont want to that is perfectly fine i understand but the option is there if youre interested thank you all again for watching and i will see you all in later videos steam uninstall game In this review to ring in the new year, I take a look at the fairly obscure 2001 hack n slash game Severance: Blade of Darkness (or Blade: The Edge of Darkness if youre Spanish... or simply Blade of Darkness if youre from North America).ESRB Rating: Mature (17+) - Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence You can grab this game DRM-free on GOG here: Or try the demo on GOG here: Or you can find it (and the demo) on Steam here: You can join my official Steam group here: You can follow me on Twitter here: Want to know more about my channel? Check my about page here: If youre interested in contributing to the channel, I have a Patreon here: steam wants to download game again metro for steam video game awards steam deck stankey steamer arma 2 free steam key