Blade of Darkness or also known as Severance: The Blade of Darkness, is the only game made by Rebel Act. It is finally being distributed by Steam from October 7, 2021, onwards.
When the game was first released in 2001, it has been distributed by Codemasters. The company soon folded after a lack of commercial hit.
Despite poor marketing strategy, the players who somehow got in touch with this game fell in love with it. This game is the 2001 version of the Dark Souls game, but better and more enjoyable.
After Codemasters stopped distribution, GOG took over the distribution responsibility. But it had been a long pause of distribution when GOG also stopped the distribution of Blade of Darkness.
And now Steam has put this game on their marketplace with improvements and bug fixes. It’s a very positive news for all the gamers who did not get the chance to play this game and only saw their favorite streamers play. GOG will also resume their distribution alongside Steam.
About the Game
Severance that’s a name that was visceral even before marketing decided that visceral was a neat buzzword. It is known by its full name as “Severance: Blade of Darkness” or “Blade of Darkness” depending on where you’re from. With such a title you get this sense it had a lot to do with darkness and blades and it did. Oh boy! Did have a lot of blades and maces and well maybe not that much darkness.
But most of all Blade of Darkness was something special it was the Dark Souls game that was actually good. Now that I have your attention Rotten Tomatoes and death threats allow me to explain. Either through the magic of symmetry or come inspiration Blade of Darkness is a lot like Dark Souls and I mean a lot. It’s scary how similar they are and I don’t mean they’re both action RPGs. No. I mean they have even the same awkward slow falling
Now Blade of Darkness has an excuse, it’s almost ancient by modern standards dating back from the year 2001. Back when motion capture had interesting results. It was the only game ever to be made by Rebel Act Studio. The company folded not long after Blade of Darkness not being a commercial hit. Why? Maybe Codemasters fumbled the marketing, Maybe could have used the console version. Maybe reviewers back then weren’t on the “Oh my god, this is so hard! This must be brilliant!” trend like they are right now.
The game told the story of four characters of your choice. A noble knight
betrayed and left alone to defend the land against evil, a brave Amazon out to explore the land and get rid of Darkness, a strong Barbarian the size of a house something to do with ancestors, and the dwarf who I believe was drunk for most of the time.
It didn’t have a very well-developed plot, a side effect of it being released before it was actually finished. There was very little direct storytelling in it with a few cutscenes, not a lot of dialogue. But with the other level decoration which hinted at details about the events unfolding. It is a tale of gods and darkness. A tale of a sword that wept blood.
Make no mistakes Blade of Darkness was not an easy game. It had no difficulty setting. You are dumped into a brutal world that expected you to learn or die, pay attention or pay the price, achieve or perish kill or be killed, succeed or you get the idea. It was downright brutal at times. That eighteen plus rating wasn’t there just for show.
But it did have something that the Dark Souls games didn’t. Which is fairness! It was never an unfair b*stard that hit traps all over the place. Oh sure there were traps but you’d get hints like a metallic clank, or a room filled with blood and what seemed to be piles of crushed bones. But most of all this is a game that allowed you to save at any time anywhere. When doing so none of the enemies respawns. The game didn’t punish you make go through the same fight a thousand times just because you had your thirst to play, like a normal human being and not some animal chained to their gaming machine trying to prove their hardcore! That’s not hardcore.
However, Blade of Darkness instead of punishing you, it’s very judgmental. While there is no difficulty level, every time you save your game, your awesomeness rating would go down. It had no bearing on gameplay, but if you got to the end with the best possible rating odds were that your friends would either think highly of you or most likely not
talk to you because you kept bragging about it like we just solved the anti-life equation or something.
I’m not ashamed to say that I saved a lot in that game. A heck of a lot, for the simple reason that I need peace of mind. And also for the reason that Blade of Darkness has awkward movement controls. As stated before it was made in the age where good 3D was a new thing and controlling 3d action done right was also a new thing. The motion capture also didn’t help in that aspect.
It had a lot of glitches in the physics department which you could abuse for fun and profit. There were things such as running up walls, breakdancing, the popular climbing in mid-air. Some of the glitches were downright hilarious like one of the little bosses would throw his weapon at you but you could catch it in midair as a bug and he couldn’t use it anymore for the rest of the combat. That was basically the funniest thing imaginable! Like think about it, where else can you see a game where the boss throws his one and only weapon at you you catch it and then proceeded to beat the living sh*t out of him? While he just stands there wondering, “Why did I throw that? What was going to my mind? I should have known he could catch it.”
How this Game Stands Out
Hearing all this you’re probably thinking man this game sounds like a glitchy pile of cr*p. But do you know where it wasn’t cr*p in any way shape or form? Where it grabs most games by the collar and slaps them into next year? The combat! You haven’t lived (in the gaming sense not the normal sense) until you’ve played certain games focused around melee combat. One of those games is Blade of Darkness. The others all get to later on.
So what makes Blade of Darkness so great in the combat department? Well, you know how every game in the last decade substitutes tactical combat for dodge roll abuse. Well, there was only one character in Blade of Darkness that could do a dodge roll and she had a reason to do so. That was the Amazon. She is light, specialize in wielding pole weapons with virtually zero defense. Her fighting style was quite different from the other characters. Because rolling away from her enemy meant she was an optimal range for her spear.
The other characters weren’t so fortunate. Oh no! they couldn’t roll away they dodged, and not all say that you pressed a dodge button and you were safe instantly, you had to watch carefully in which direction the enemy was about to swing and dodge in the other direction. And I’m not talking huge leaps.
Here, your character would duck and move slightly in the direction you pressed. Because well, a knight in chainmail can’t roll that well let alone one full plate mail. Without being able to tumble all the time you actually have to fight tactically in this game and the combat system allows you to execute a lot of maneuvers that enable you to play smart you couldn’t spam attacks because you had a limited amount of stamina once you use it all up your characters would move like sloths and try to catch their breaths for a moment. That moment is also known as imminent death.
This isn’t a game about getting behind the enemy for a quick back stem that would ensure lots of damage and possibly instant kill. The game is about timing attacks, blocking, and manually countering for the second the enemy was staggered. You had to maneuver the enemies around to make sure they didn’t surround you from all sides. Because that would mean certain doom.
My favorite thing was probably to get them all bunched up as close to each other as possible now this did mean there was a good chance that if I’d hit one of their shields when attacking I’d leave myself open for a head-chopping experience.
But! and here’s where the fun starts, Blade of Darkness isn’t just a cool-sounding name. It best describes the dismemberment mechanics in the game you could chop off hands feet usually killing the enemy (if they weren’t undead), and most of all no one was immune to a sharp blade hurtling through the air. No matter who wielded it. So when one of those goblins decided to swing his sword at you ignoring his allies, there was a good chance one of them would lose an arm. Some of you may pass that off as per AI but I prefer to think about it as goblins being morons and the game being fair about it, and also quite natural.
I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned bludgeoning animated death with the head of a fallen comrade you can do that in the Blade of Darkness. You can pick up a severed hand or a fourth of the enemy and throw it in the faces of their peers. Why?! If you have to ask you may be just a bit too innocent for this game and I apologize for mentioning dismemberment several times without warning you. But, with a name like “Blade of Darkness”, you should have clued into what the game is about from the get-go.
And if beating someone with a severed leg Mortal Kombat 4 Quan Chi style wasn’t good enough, there were combos. You didn’t have a light attack and a heavy attack. No, you had one attack, directional keys, and a whole bunch of level-based and weapon-based special moves you could pull off by combining the two. Uh sure, not the crazy skate on an enemy DMC spectacle fighter combo stuff but more sensible ones! They range from the standard increased damage strike to the supernatural granules of health affairs. Though this did require a specific period.
There are a lot of weapons in the game each character having their own set. A bunch of shields, as well a few potions, and a lot of cheese to eat. Combat is the heart and soul of Blade of Darkness. The RPG aspect is way too linear to the point where it barely qualifies as one. Statistics go up automatically.
More about the Game
Apart from weapons shields and three sets of armor, there are no other items you can equip. The whole RPG part is just a sort of an unlock system for your special moves. They may as well have made it a stage-dependent affair but on the other hand, finishing off an enemy with ten hit points is going to have a level up, bringing you back to full health, ready to take on the next big threat is very satisfying. That’s more or less what you can call fighting in this game satisfying and it is superbly done it. Even allows you to cancel attacks. Sure the animations are a bit abrupt there but it does kind of remind me of fighting games that have the same mechanic.
Simply put, this is the kind of game where mashing buttons would sometimes leave you with unfinished attacks and shorter legs or no reason to comb your hair. The exploration aspect wasn’t that bad either. Sure the movement may have been clunky but the levels were well made and dotted with secrets. Some required the precision use of a bow that didn’t have an aiming reticle and also had a limited supply of arrows. I remember saving before every shot for a while when the enemy started using bows arrows were plentiful. I’d usually run around with a dozen of them stuck to a shield which I could then pick up because the game was hell’a cool that way.
Multiplayer & Conclusion
With so much praise for how well the game works in terms of combat mechanics and comparing it to a fighting game you’re probably wondering why it doesn’t have a multiplayer mode, well it did it, and still does. The arena mode and it’s awesome. It even has mod support. People have made basically new campaigns for it. More weapons more combos more characters more everything. Because they loved it and the only way to get more of it was to make it on their own. I’d very much like to grab this game and give it a try because it’s superb. But sadly it was pulled off GOG a few years ago after Codemasters lost the distribution rights. Who has them now? Well, rebel act isn’t around anymore and its members split into two different Studios one of them being Mercury’s team of Castlevania Lord Of Shadows renown.
Now that Steam and GOG have finally put it back on sale, oh boy are you gonna like Dark Souls less after playing Severance: Blade of Darkness!