Sundered is a new Metroid-Vania game from the minds at Thunder Lotus Games, does this hand drawn horror survival live up to its beautiful art? Let us be your jury.
Being a huge fan of Lovecraft and all things Eldritch horror in nature, I jumped at the chance to play the beta for Sundered. The fact that this Metroid-Vania style game was made by Thunder Lotus Games, who brought us Jotun a few years ago had me sold. I fucking love indie games and Jotun was a great game.
The first thing I notice about Sundered is how damn beautiful it is. The artwork is all hand drawn and the use of color, layering and shading is amazing. There are great contrasts in between areas, and the color saturation is heavy and craftily applied. Everything “pops” and catches the eye. The background art is just as good, if not better than the foreground art and enemies. The soundtrack is equal to the visuals, with ambient noise elegantly flowing in the background while the sounds of battle and the cries of the awaiting horrors echo throughout the caverns.
Once you pry your eyes off the visuals and sound you begin to notice how damn hard the game is. Enemies spawn once you trigger certain events within the game, and after killing enough enemies you are bombarded with larger and larger hordes. The problem I had with this is killing those little bastards give coins that are used for upgrading your character. Why is this bad you ask? Simple, the more enemies you kill, the more enemies you spawn, and the harder it gets. Be prepared to die, a lot. It’s not quite Dark Souls level of dying, but somewhere just a step or two below.
Luckily, death is actually a boon in this game, as after each death you can purchase your upgrades before continuing on. Depending on how you play you can embrace or resist the Eldritch powers. This has massive implications on not just your abilities and how they work, but also on how the game plays out.
As for game play itself, Sundered is a one of those “Easy to learn, hard to master” type games. Precision and perfect timing will be integral as you cut your way through the hordes of Eldritch terrors. The game is full of surprises too, often in the form of crazy enemies and unexpected hordes of horrors. It is too easy to find yourself going from fighting one or two enemies to a few dozen enemies in a matter of minutes.
The boss battles in this game are another thing entirely. To quote comedian Tom Segura “Holy Shit!”. The boss battles are insane, and we’re not talking just big, no, we’re talking fucking HUGE bosses. It will blow your mind when the game pans out to show how just how minuscule you are compared to some of the elder things. The size differential definitely adds to the battles, it constantly made me wonder how I was going to defeat something that big.
I only had one issue with the game, and sadly that was the controls. Being a huge PC gamer I gravitate towards keyboard and mouse, but this game was far easier to manipulate with a controller. Controls aside, Sundered left me hungry for more. I love Metroid-Vania style games and Sundered lived up to the hype in the trailers. While the Kickstarter for Sundered is over, it will be out later this month (July) for Steam, PS4 and GOG. I suggest you pick it up and embrace the Eldritch calling.
This Review was written by Nohl Espenshade and is based on a a beta copy given access to Kickstarter backers.