WARNING WILL CONTAIN A FEW SPOILERS HERE AND THERE BUT NOTHING END GAME OR MAJOR PLOT RELATED
I have played and reviewed this game on the PC version, just to be forward with you lovely readers before diving in!
A wandering warrior….a forgotten civilization…horrific creatures of the depths of nothingness…and this voice inside your head that is totally super not evil you guys!
What you read there is basically the opening few minutes to the new metroidvania rogue like known as Sundered!
So I recently dropped quite a few days into this interesting little gem straight out of the studio known as Thunder Lotus Games (of “Jotun” fame as well) and it left quite a mark on me I must say, whether it was the gorgeous art style, fast paced action, or the multitude of ways I suffered death by the horrible things living in its world, either way let’s dive on in folks and see what we got set up before us.
If you are a fan of the old school Metroid or Castlevania games, you will fit in just fine here folks! Sundered is a fast paced side-scroller that has the players playing as the mysterious wanderer Eshe who stumbles into a bizarre artifact known as the “Shining Trapezohedron” (WHAT THE SHIT IS THAT NAME!?) which serves as your main hub area and your level up tree, you see as Eshe kills enemies she gets these little gems that can be spent at your hub world (unlike souls like games you keep your cash when you drop dead) and you can level up various stats from damage, health, and luck being a few examples. As Eshe goes deeper and takes on various mini bosses and finds ability shrines she will learn new skill to employ in her moves, from double jump, air dash, getting a shield, or just getting a giant ass cannon to plow through the encroaching hordes that are hunting you down as well as perk tokens that she can slot in and out to give herself different effects however most seem to also carry a negative effect as well (like that double shield power….well give up half your health when you equip this perk) it does add a nice level of customization to mix up how you play though.
Speaking of hordes…. THERE ARE A LOT OF ENEMIES THAT WANT YOU DEAD!
Enemies like the levels themselves are actually randomly generated so you could just be walking around and suddenly a horde will jump in and try to get some licks in (I swear they hired the AI director from the Left 4 Dead series as this game seems to have such malice for me ever having an easy time, especially in the second zone of the god damn game) this also mixes up the various little treasure boxes (more like treasure tumors) that pop up around the level as well, there are also invisible walls that one can walk through and now that I have mentioned that you can now join me in rubbing your face up against all surfaces as well!
Level are randomly generated which either works in the game’s favor or against it in certain circumstances (really depends more on player preferences, I did not mind too much) however there are static areas of the game that hold shortcuts through the level (a few even connecting to your hub) that make the travel that comes with death way less and believe me folks….death is a very normal thing in Sundered.
I can only say one thing on the main bosses of Sundered….HOLY HELL THEY ARE INTENSE AND PROBABLY SOME OF THE BEST PARTS OF THE GAME.
The final point of gameplay I will bring up in the story section or the review as its one final mechanic that can also affect how the story plays out….and speaking of story…
We start off with Eshe as she stumbles through a sand storm before falling upon some weird evil looking ruins that seem to suck her in as she awakens in a whole new terrifying world of darkness. A voice calls out to her telling her is she wishes to survive she will listen to it and find the pieces of some kind of broken crystal referred to as “Elder Shards” (Eldritch influences intensify), and right there is when I’m going to talk about these little things when one finds and Elder Shard they usually have to find three pieces when this is done you are to bring it to a shrine and it can be used to…corrupt your abilities, now I know this sounds really bad and evil (CAUSE IT IS) but when you do this your abilities gain new powers and change in look as well….now here comes the kicker with this. Doing so will affect how your story plays out as well as your ending and final boss as well, however for those who are not a fan of sticking evil crystals into your skull….there is another option…if one finds this giant furnace in the game one could drop the shard into it and break the damn thing, this will also affect your play through as well…however you lose out on the hype eldritch abilities though.
The story itself seems rather interesting as you explore the world you will come across these crystal structures that seem to hold the land’s tales in them as you begin to learn of what happened to this world and why it is the way it is….as well as maybe even get a peek into who this voice in your head really is….
Obviously I cannot speak for the whole story as I have not beaten it yet but I quite enjoy it so far and its Lovecraft brushes here and there as well.
If there is one thing I can say on Thunder Lotus Games it’s this….MY GOD YOUR ART STYLE IS FANTASTIC. This is no different in Sundered either as you fight your way through, corrupted forests, abandoned military bases, eldritch consumed caves, and scale giant cathedrals made to some unknown god. The colors are so good and the flow of it just aids so well to accentuate this, it is hard to say anything else other than the art is very beautiful to look at.
Now for those who know me, I have no god damn background in sound design in any way….I just like stuff that sounds catchy. The atmosphere is well established with the sound design of Sundered, from haunting melodies of loneliness, to the on your edge sound of the eldritch caves that seem to be closing in around you. I warn you though people keep your ears open for a gong noise….this is the tall tale sign of a horde of enemies about to barrel into you and make your day really crappy. The sound effects of the enemies and attacks also fit very well with what is happening on the screen on that note.
Look I replay the hell out of these kinds of games, and with one like this that also offers new end game stuff depending on how you choose to approach the Elder Shard situation only pushes me to want to play more.
The first few hours of Sundered can make or break it for some people I have found (I’m a masochistic son of a bitch who does not mind dying over and over again…thank you Ninja Gaiden and Souls series.) but I know some people who were turned off of it at the start.
The only major flaw I have come across personally is the rather lengthy load times (coming from the PC version) but some of that could last like five minutes or more when entering a new zone and while I do not mind too much I know this can kill the flow of the game for some though.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND SCORE
I quite enjoy Sundered, it does some stuff pretty cool and while I have seen other games do similar stuff better I cannot deny that I look forward to spending more time with this gorgeous looking game, I highly recommend fans of metroidvanias take a look and even ones who are not fans of said genre to give it a go, you got another great one on your hands Thunder Lotus Games and you are only getting higher up in my personal book of beloved developers.
Now dear readers you must only choose to resist….or embrace.
A- out of S+