Sundered is a Metroidvania style game that released recently by Thunder Lotus Games. The term “Metroidvania” refers to the gameplay of both Metroid and Castlevania – often, the player is able to explore the majority of a given map, but unable to access specific areas until they upgrade or pass achievements, giving them the ability to move through the obstacles that were hindered their advancement before. Sundered completely embodies this type of gameplay, but portrays a uniqueness that will keep players wanting more.
A World Sundered By War
The game opens with a beautiful scene introducing players to Eshe as she wonders upon an ancient ruin which sucks her into another realm. As you explore different areas within the game, pieces of the lore reveal themselves. You will encounter the Shining Trapezoid, who provides a little background into how this world came to be, but his evil demeanor will make one wonder if he can really be trusted. He will often speak during gameplay and slowly lets us in on the lore. He describes the inhabitants of the world before a great war and the instability that stemmed from it – reflected well by the game’s different procedurally generated areas.. (They even created their own language for the game – Eschaton, which you can learn more about on their website!)
A Handmade Masterpiece
What really captured my attention is the game’s art. Every part of the map is hand drawn and is visually stunning. The animation of Eshe’s movements is really impressive but it’s during boss battles that the art truly shines. The bosses are robust and colorful and make a usual grinding moment to be particularly fun. The only problem I found is the backdrop scenes. In specific areas of the game, the backdrop remains the similar despite feeling as though one is advancing. This does add to the labyrinth feeling of the games map, but does not provide any visual cues as to how difficult the area is or as to what skills is needed to defeat the boss. Additionally, because the areas regenerate, the similar backdrops can confuse you when you just start playing. However, this bothered me less once I was more invested in the game.
Sundered is difficult, but that did not inhibit my enjoyment of the game. Enemies spawn randomly: yous might pass through different scenes having been attacked only once or twice and then find yourself being bombarded several instances in a row from all angles. But Sundered’s responsive gameplay is really captivating during these instances. Eshe’s movements flow beautifully with and, although fighting the horde of enemies to defeat seems monumental in the beginning, I began to appreciate it towards the end. Combat definitely demanding, but the more one progresses, the more powers Eshe will learn and acquire. A tip for players interested in progressing in the game: do not be afraid to die. In fact, it is pretty crucial to your progression. Each time, you will respawn in the game’s sanctuary where you get a chance to increase your stats using the in-game currency – which you receive from mauling down all those enemies! My favorite aspect of this game was one’s choices with the Elder Shards – pieces that fall from the bosses. With these Elder Shards, player’s can drastically augment Eshe’s abilities, but at an exchange for parts of her humanity. The game’s ending varies depending on how many Elder Shards are destroyed or consumed, giving Sundered an interesting addition.
Despite the game’s difficulty, I really, really enjoyed Sundered. It takes the usual Metroidvania style of gameplay, making a visually stunning game incredibly challenging. I especially appreciated how different decisions within the game affect one’s ending. Although the backdrops could have used a bit of variety, I don’t feel as though it affected my immersion while playing. It remained incredibly engaging and fulfilling. I definitely recommend Sundered for everyone as I think there are a multitude of elements that every gamer will enjoy.