Have you ever wondered how it would be like to be a character in a lovecraftian videogame? One that depicts some of his writing such as horrific creatures, elder gods, long forgotten civilizations. Fighting over madness and sanity, doing all of this while battling your way over gaining power and losing your humanity. Sundered have you covered in those needs.
In Sundered, you play as Eshe, a lone wanderer who gets pulled to a bizarre labyrinth full of hostile creatures. Eshe will have to fight back in order to survive and gain her freedom from the hordes of enemies and gigantic bosses.
This could prove difficult without the powers she can acquire through her journey. The catch here is that each time she empowers herself, she loses part of her humanity; so, will you resist and fight with your own power, or risk yourself and embrace it?
Sundered mixes the skill-based exploration of Metroidvanias, intense action, puzzle solving, and stats progression. While you can freely roam the areas of this place, some will require specific skills to get to them. As a tradition in this kind of game, you will need your double jump to reach far-off ledges or powerful attacks to break through specific obstacles in the way; most of these abilities are protected by mini-bosses or bosses.
These mini-bosses are regularly stronger and enlarged versions of common enemies that you can fight like you normally do, while the bosses are towering giants that the screen needs to enlarge in order to fit these mega beasts.
The gameplay here as we call intense action is referring to the hordes of enemies the game launch at you. It can get really frantic and chaotic when you got enemies flying over you, some coming from the ground, others running towards you and even ones shooting at you off-screen, it can be frustrating and tedious at first but for each enemy you kill, you will receive experience that you can spend to empower your character.
Each time you die, the game will transport you back to the Sanctuary. This can become a little tiresome due to the fact that this place is in the center of the map, making you travel long distances to get you where you left it.
There are no shortcuts, portals or save points, which means going again through areas you have already passed. But at least you will improve your chances of surviving thanks to this. Here you can spend the shards obtained from defeated enemies, the skill tree here has plenty of options to develop your character with the experience you gained, unlocking nodes to upgrade your health, get stronger armor, regenerating shield, dealing more damage and more; while unlocking this node you need to do some planning because each upgrade increases the cost of the next one.
There are also perks that you can get in rooms or from defeating certain enemies. These perks have different levels and are randomized, so you can spend time searching for some upgraded perks of the ones you have and suit your playstyle better.
The controls of the game are responsive, and they need to be if you want to survive when you need to run or fight the hordes of enemies, while the second thing sometimes consist in button mashing, you will have to play cool and test your skills against the bosses of this game, Sundered being a Thunder Lotus game put enormous, beautifully detailed creatures taken directly from Lovecraft’s imagination. And so are the battles with these bosses where Sundered shines, as they are really strategic and don’t rely only on button mashing, seeing how well animated and detailed these bosses are, makes them feel like unforgettable battles.
It’s worth mentioning that everything manages to look awesome, with the colorful visuals of Sundered remaining striking even when played from the palms of your hands.
The hand-drawn graphics and animations, a trademark by now from Thunder Lotus Games, makes this game look vivid with those backgrounds, from the combination of advanced technology, grotesque and gory dark caves or clouded palaces walls with some lost, forgotten architecture.
The only thing that can prove a challenge sometimes is when the camera gets full of enemies, that is difficult even to know where your character is.
The ambience music of the game is perfect accordingly to where you are. The creatures make many kinds of noises like growling, chilling shrikes and screams, working perfectly with their abnormal forms, masses of flesh with protuberances and teeth everywhere, masked cultists, winged creatures with eyes; your character also emits some scary noises with his attacks once you corrupt yourself, really making you feel like some kind of monstrosity eating your humanity.
The lore or narrative of the game falls short, mostly while you are exploring and fighting your way out of these maze of interconnected places, but there are rooms in the game where you find some crystals that tell you about what happened before there, so it’s a good incentive to explore and check every room possible.
The duration of the game will depend on the player’s difficulty and how much you want to develop your character. The game has different endings depending on what you do with each Elder shard you receive.
So it can be replayed if you are a completionist giving you more than 15 hours of gameplay.
Sundered is a great game, although it has its flaws for those who feel overwhelmed by its difficulty. Character progression is slow but once you manage to overcome this, you won’t resist getting hooked in it, as the more you advance, the more you want to know and try many times to finish it and know what will happen to Eshe.
That being said, the updated version of the game adds multiplayer co-op letting you enjoy it with friends and whatnot, making it easier through its labyrinthic mazes. New bosses and areas to explore; definitely a game worth its money, as it’s pretty cheap as well.
Final rating: 9/10.