Sundered is a horrifying fight for survival and sanity, a metroidvania game published and developed by Canadian studio Thunder Lotus Games. It is a hand-drawn epic from the creators of Jotun. Resist or embrace. Sundered is a love letter to Lovecraft.
Like Jotun, visuals are colourful and cartoonish. It’s stunning in motion, but the grand and intricate style masks a wealth of darkness creeping under the surface. As you explore the labyrinthine underworld in non-linear fashion, things go from weird to weirder. Be careful the deals you make in the darkness; you can never fully know just who or what you are dealing with… or what their offers will truly cost you.
Sundered is set in a beautiful hand-drawn world with character models that are just as lovingly crafted. This style creates monsters that are a stunningly designed, yet terrifying in their Lovecraftian inspiration. Their movements, attacks, and ever their death animations have a luring quality about them that it can be easy to lose yourself in appreciating the work that went into their design. The problem is this: there is often a LOT of them on the screen!
Players of this game plays the role of Esthe a wanderer in a ruined world, trapped in ever-changing caverns filled with hordes of terrifying enemies. Harness the power of corrupted relics to defeat gigantic bosses, at the cost of your humanity. Eshe encounters the Shining Trapezohedron, which grants her the power to defend herself. The two begin to travel the caves together. Upon travelling the trapezohedron explains that their civilization, an Eldritch theocracy known as the Eschaton, was at war with an invading force known as the Valkyries, who used advanced technology to fight their eldritch magic.
Eshe is a capable fighter, lithe and quick, the game has a tendency to lay the enemy encounters on heavy, with swarms of crawling, leaping and spinning creatures attacking while laser-firing enemies’ beams tracked me from three screens away.
In this game players must traverse a side-scrolling world and unlock new abilities to progress. These are unlocked at shrines, and the player can also open shortcuts that provide a faster way across the game’s world. The game makes use of some random elements, as enemy hordes will spawn randomly and try to attack the player. Additionally, after every death, the passages connecting the game’s areas rearrange themselves using procedural generation. You play a character exploring the interconnecting ruins of two warring civilizations, and battle against the corrupted remnants of the previous inhabitants., In order to survive you are granted powers by a mysterious being that pretty clearly doesn’t have your best interests in mind. The sprawling world map is made up of areas which rearrange every time you die, connected by points that can only be traversed through the use of specific power-ups, in classic metroidvania style. Players must do the most important decision for this game – whether to “embrace” or “resist” when it comes to the game’s powerful Elder Shards. Accessing the magic of these Shards grants you new abilities at the expense of your humanity, eventually permitting you to climb up walls and sprout wings to glide. But it’s also possible to destroy the Shards instead, which grants different types of abilities and allows you to maintain your humanity and eventually get a different (not necessarily better) ending.
The game has supported for up to four players in a local co-op experience. The implementation of co-op play is smooth and seamless, allowing new players to be added or removed via the pause menu, without the need to start a new game. And this new players will appear as colorful shadows of Eshe, the game’s main character, and have all of the same unlocked abilities. When the avatars head in different directions the game’s camera zooms out to keep all players on screen, up to a point, but will eventually default to the first player. All players share the same health pool, but have their own shields and other resources.
Overall, this game is a great fit for everyone and there’s really no reason not to give it a try. Just for the novelty of sharing a game like this with friends. 👍 If you are looking for a challenging Metroidvania game with a darker feel than Dead Cells with a replay value, Sundered: Eldritch Edition is worth the descent into madness.