ATI Radeon 9700, 9500, and 9800 users: There is a problem with these cards running the Blade of Darkness / Severance. The menu text is black, thus preventing you from seeing what you are selecting. First thing to do is send a formal complaint to ATi to tell them to fix their stupid drivers (report) and then download the patch and the OpenGL Raster from 3DGamers.com (raster.zip) (raster) or trust my mirror of the file here. The OpenGL raster is far from perfect.. When you get to an area where the fog is too thick, it's best to memorize the menu commands to get to your latest save game, and then change the renderer to D3D and play in that mode. If all else fails, go to the most popular Blade forums at Arokh's Lair.
UPDATE: The new Catalyst 3.8 drivers fix this problem, thus allowing you to play the game in Direct3D goodness. A member of the driver team claimed that it was a game bug and not a driver bug, but I find it a bit hard to believe due to the fact that it only happened with R3XX cards. In either case, I'm really glad it's fixed and I thank all who submitted the bug report.
UPDATE 2 (January, 2011): So yeah, this page is getting tons of hits from people looking for BoD/Severance info. Turns out that the black text problem that the Catalyst 3.8 drivers (read: ATI's Windows XP drivers from August, 2003!) fixed, has reared its ugly head again at the introduction of Windows Vista, on nVidia and ATI video cards (and undoubtedly with Intel and other manufacturers graphics cards). Windows 7 of course, isn't any different. With that, I'm more than happy to provide you with the OpenGL raster on this site here. Arokhs Lair is still around and is by far the best resource for everything BoD/Severance related. Sir Random has even created a Fog fix mod, so that in the snow/forge levels, the fog is reduced while using the OpenGL raster (where previously, you couldn't see your own nose). That site is here. The FogFix mod is not currently included with my mega-zip file near the bottom of this page. Also I fixed an image file that apparently didn't upload correctly when I first created this page, back in 2001-ish.
Now on to my very old review and non-anti-aliased screenshots.
Another thing worth noting is the physics model of the game. Things will bounce in different directions according to their shape, and what they bounce off of perfectly. An instance is when a chalice is thrown, it will hit the wall and bounce back on the floor towards you and then roll in a circle until it stops. This is amazing to me, and makes me sad that these highly talented programmers are the only ones in the entire gaming community that did these things so well.
The knight, Sargon is the 'All-Around' choice... 'Vanilla' if your vocabulary allows. All things seem to be equal.. Speed, strength, range, and defense. His combos can get pretty good on later levels. The game, in my humble opinion, is especially tough with Sargon. I hate using shields, and it appears that that is something you have to learn in order to master this character. He specializes in one handed swords, such as the all-popular gladius, mace, and scimitar.
The Amazon, Zoe is my least favorite of all the characters. She's very fast. Her weapons are greatly ranged, and somehow have a lot of killing potential. Her defense is low, but that doesn't really matter because if you play right you wont get hit by anything until you reach the Chaos Child near the end of the game. So why don't I like her? Not because she's amazingly easy to use (no pun intended), but because of the yelps she makes every time she swings her bo type weapon, or when she jumps, or when she gets hit by something. Very annoying. I've played the opening level with her, and stopped.
The Barbarian, Tukaram is my second favorite. He's very slow, but his weapons are ranged quite well. He deals mainly in two handed swords and axes. Yes, two handed axes, which include an eclipse (a circular blade on a stick), and a scythe. As long as you keep a distance from the bad guy, and use timing when swinging, you should have no problem. He doesn't have a third arm, thus eliminating the use for a shield. He can block with his sword, but it only lasts half a second, and proves even more useless, especially if you are consiously aware that it will break if used in that manner consistently. His combos are very hard to perform, but straight up AWESOME once mastered.
Finally, the Dwarf, Nalfgar is of course my favorite. He's a quick little bugger, with plenty of power and the best defense. The only drawback is you have to get right up close and personal with any enemy you fight, as he uses one handed axes and hammers. His shield use is the best, but like I said, I never use the thing. He's short, so a lot of the swords and things go swinging right over his head, and he can move right up under it and bring a damaging upper slice into the groin. The best thing about using him, is the speed he does everything. You press the attack button, his swing is already done before you let the button up. His dodge move is very useful, simply because of the speed he does it. The combos are the most powerful in the game, mainly because of the 'Great Hammer', where it's special combo will level a 7000 HP stone golem in one hit.
All the vegetation is dead. Trees are scraggly, pointing at the sky, begging to be struck down. Dead bodies, some half decayed are lying everywhere, as the evil moves to conquer the world. Forts and cathedrals stand high and tall, once monuments of accomplishment and amazement, now taken over by trolls and zombies, waiting for you to kill them. Water has an amazing reflection effect to it. I don't see it as being realistic, but it is pretty cool to stare at as you waddle through the water. Shadows are especially spectacular. I've yet to see a game have the dynamic shadow effect come even close to what Blade has achieved. Your shadow will actually keep it's shape, while warping as you walk past a torch (or other source of light); getting taller and bigger as you move closer, and back the other way as you move away from it.
The gore was the main seller for this game. 'Chop off your enemy's limb and beat him with it!' was a statement on one of the versions of box in Europe. That's only a small piece of the pie. Blood will squirt out of necks (after you sever the head), and splash onto a wall, and drip down accordingly, and pool on the ground. The same goes for any limb as well. At times, if you use a powerful combo swing, you can even chop of the top half of the body. Seeing as how much flak Doom took in it's day for it's unreasonable amount of blood and guts, this game would have taken an equal amount, had it been given the proper recognition.
There are also many many 3rd party mods and maps for Blade of Darkness. One of the most acclaimed is Conquest, by Sir Random. It is a single player map, with added features and weapons not included in the original Blade. It also has some clever puzzles in it. I imagine it takes about six hours to finish it. I only say that because I played for three hours straight, and the save game function wasn't working for me (it's been fixed now), and I figured I was about half way done. Click on the picture to go to the site that hosts it's download.
EXCLUSIVE!!! You can download every single map and mod offered on the Blade Mods page (seen below) in one single .zip file! 28.8 Megs. Download FROM HERE!
Sir Random's FogFix Mod
Plus other stuff.