Drinkbox’s creeptastic ‘Severed’ arrives on iOS today
The days are basically numbered for Sony’s beleaguered portable console, the PS Vita, and they have been for some time. But that hasn’t stopped indie developer Drinkbox Studios from supporting it. Three of the company’s four games have been released for the Vita (including the excellent Guacamelee!), and the latest (hack-and-slash explorer Severed) came out earlier this year as a Vita exclusive.
However, Drinkbox knows that it needs to move beyond Sony’s aging handheld: That’s why Severed is coming to iOS devices as well as Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS. The iOS port arrives today ready for the iPhone and iPad and costs $6.99. That may be a little expensive for an iOS game, but it’s less than half of what the game costs on the Vita. And it dramatically expands the number of people who’ll get a chance to play Severed.
Previous Drinkbox games eventually made their way to various Xbox and PlayStation consoles, but Severed relies heavily on the touchscreen, making iOS and Nintendo’s platforms a far better match this time out. I played an pre-release version of the game on iOS, and it seems particularly well-suited to the wide expanses of the iPad’s screen (though it works on the phone, as well). Slashing your way through enemies feels great on the big screen, and the two-finger gesture to adjust your character’s first-person view is a totally natural gesture.
Everything about the Vita version of the game is intact here, including Drinkbox’s signature bright and eerie art style and some wonderfully creepy atmospheric music. It may cost more than the average game, but Severed is a pretty extensive experience as far as iOS games go. It also has a number of new iOS features, including cloud save across multiple devices, game center achievements, graphics optimizations using Apple’s Metal technology and an easier “casual” difficulty mode.
If you’re a Vita fan, however, Drinkbox has some sad news: It sounds as if Severed will be the studio’s last game for the handheld. “We’ve talked about if we were ever to do a Kickstarter, the Vita might be a stretch goal,” Drinkbox’s Graham Smith told me. “We have an internal game engine that we use that really works well with iOS now, so now all things being equal it’s just as easy to put out a game on iOS as it is on the Vita,” Chris McQuinn from Drinkbox adds. “We love the Vita, but we also need to survive financially.”
But the good news is that Drinkbox appears to be more than capable of bringing its distinctive style to iOS. The company has made some excellent games thus far, regardless of platform, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens once they start building games from the ground up with iOS in mind. And the company’s support of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 thus far means we’ll likely see new games there in the future as well.