Dead Space 2 met fans and reviewers with critical acclaim, so it's only right for the developers at Visceral Games to cash in on Isaac's success while his nightmares remain relevant in the minds of customers. However, this DLC does not star Isaac, but rather recounts the fates of the series' lesser known protagonists. Does Severed's inexpensive price tag justify the expanded canon?
Taking place three years after the conclusion of Dead Space: Extraction and set amid the Necromorph outbreak aboard the Sprawl, the Severed storyline shadows the final moments of Gabe Weller while he attempts to reunite with his wife, Lexine Murdoch. Don’t expect too much from the narrative. The DLC provides no backstory on the characters, as the developers assume you've played Extraction. Even with the minimal dialogue, the plot ultimately poses more questions than it answers, possibly for the inevitable sequel or future paid content. Who are the “key subjects” that need to be terminated? What is the Oracle program? Who are the strange men in white? Is this the last gamers will see of Lexine?
It's impossible to form any emotional attachment to the characters without having played Dead Space: Extraction.
Fans looking for new environments to dismember their foes in will be sorely disappointed. Visceral Games has essentially cut and pasted the same locales from Isaac’s journey, except with a few more corpses and blood splatters sprinkled in here and there for some added variety. The DLC still looks good running on the Dead Space 2 engine. It’s just a shame that gamers have already experienced the best the content has to offer.
The pacing has been thrown out the window, too. With all the weapons and items that you have acquired throughout the main game unlocked at the first store, you're encouraged to test out the new arsenal of limb removal weaponry instead of searching behind crates or looking over guardrails to locate hidden schematics. Severed does not let you begin a New Game+ unfortunately, so enjoy your new firearms while they last.
Isaac isn't the only person who can hold his own against the Necromorphs.
Naturally, the gameplay also remains unchanged. Don’t fix what’s not broken. If there are more compliments to be given here, the action is more fast-paced than Dead Space 2's. In the brief two-chapter romp through Titan Station, there is rarely an area that will not end up littered with the dismembered extremities of Gabe’s enemies. The developers forwent the traditional buildup in enemy variety in favor of throwing a menagerie of Necromorphs at the player in the same room as well. It's not uncommon to fight groups of Packs, Slashers, Stalkers, and Pukers in one confrontation. The conclusion is, nevertheless, the real highlight of the DLC. I won’t spoil anything, but I can honestly say the finale is one of my favorite Dead Space moments.
In terms of value, Severed still delivers. My first playthrough, no deaths, spanned roughly 50 minutes, whereas a second consecutive playthrough lasted less than 40. Some people may find it hard to justify the $7 admission fee, but for the same amount of money, players could do a lot worse *cough* Mass Effect 2 DLC *cough.* If you are a die-hard Dead Space fan or just need an excuse to visit the Sprawl’s blood-stained corridors once again, Severed is a must own, even if that means waiting for a sale. If you thought Dead Space 2 was only worth a passing glance, nothing here will change your mind.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Visceral Games
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign)
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3