Dead Space 2: Severed Review
There are a few ways to make episodic DLC work. You can dole out small additional pieces to a larger story (Alan Wake). You can create a new, self-contained story within the context of a larger story (Mass Effect 2). You can even have a new, self-contained story that doesn’t really have anything to do with the larger story of a game (Fallout).
Dead Space 2: Severed is an attempt to combine the first and second options, and it fails miserably.
Dead Space 2: Severed (XBox360 [Reviewed] PS3)
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: March 01, 2011
Severed is, basically, a sequel to Dead Space: Extraction. You play as Gabe Weller, one of the survivors from that game, as he attempts to rescue Lexine — who has become his wife — during the necromorph outbreak on the Sprawl. The story runs parallel to Isaac’s adventures in the main game.
Severed is best served if you think of it as an epilogue to Extraction, because the only purpose it serves is to say, “Oh, hey, yeah, by the way, this is what happened to Gabe and Lexine.” There’s no story arc, and nothing about Gabe or Lexine is interesting except in the greater Dead Space canon. Presented this way, though, it’s worthless; it would have been much more interesting to actually incorporate the mystery of Lexine either into Dead Space 2 proper or in a true sequel to Extraction.
On its own terms, Severed also suffers. It’s just an extra hour of Dead Space 2, but free of the context of Dead Space 2′s story, because Gabe’s journey is completely independent from Isaac’s. They only intertwine very superficially; the vast majority of the Severed has you backtracking through Isaac’s path out of the hospital, which is absolutely boring.
With a plot that runs parallel to that of the main game, Severed is most similar in concept to Blue Shift/Opposing Force and the GTA IV episodes. The difference between Severed and those games, aside from price, is that those titles were substantial enough to have actual story arcs, whereas Severed is too short to have one. The whole thing took me one hour to complete.
Here’s why I think Severed exists: the folks at EA and Visceral wanted to expand the Dead Space mythology and tie Extraction in with the main games while also making a little extra money. It’s amazing they would do it so clumsily, though, particularly after Mass Effect 2 so effectively tied together all of that franchise’s expanded universe materials. With Severed, though, it almost feels like Visceral is looking to run a little subfranchise for a while until they deem it convenient to combine the two.
Severed costs $7. Is it worth it? I really don’t think so. It’s little more than a cash-in, and there’s nothing new to experience here. There’s one very brief cool horror moment, but otherwise it’s just more of the same in places you’ve already been. It certainly isn’t crucial to your understanding of Dead Space that you play this, either, because whenever Lexine eventually becomes relevant, some character will explain her entire story in 30 seconds, and that will be more than enough.