Sundered - A Metroidvania Gem at PAX East

By Published March 13, 2017 at 4:30 pm
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Thunder Lotus has hit their stride in game making. Their first game, Jotun, made waves largely due to the beautiful hand-drawn visuals. They’ve now embarked on their second title, Sundered, and they’re hoping to do the same again. Shifting to a more “Metroidvania” style game has only benefited from the appeal of Thunder Lotus’ hand drawn aesthetic, which carries over into the new action/platformer title.

In Sundered, you control Eshe, a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world. Separated from your group by an eldritch sandstorm, Eshe is forced to investigate the powerful arcane forces that shattered the world. Throughout the game, enemies come from two fractions: the Valkyries and the Eschatons. The Valkyries were once humanity’s best soldiers, formed to try and stop the cataclysm that shattered the world. The Eschatons, on the other hand, were humans that fell under the sway of those same eldritch powers. Eshe will have to overcome both throughout the game.

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Gameplay in Sundered is very familiar and aptly compared to the Metroid series. Eshe navigates the world, running up and jumping off walls while dodging, shooting, and bashing enemies. You’ll unlock more abilities for Eshe throughout the game, following standard progression pathways with a few unique twists. More on the twists later. Two of the abilities we saw in the demo are an improved dash and a grappling hook that allows Eshe to latch onto specific objects and enemies, all tying into stamina for limited uses between “recharge.”

In addition to these special skills, Sundered implements a skill tree to passively upgrade Eshe. Enemies and chests throughout Sundered drop shards which can be spent on the skill tree. An interesting feature of the skill tree, though, is that it can only be accessed when you die, with a respawn wiping out the store of shards (used for upgrades). Dying in Sundered isn’t always a bad thing. When you do die, it very becomes a means to help deal with a particularly challenging boss or horde. One of the slots on the skill tree is a designated Perk slot. Perks can be found throughout Sundered and confer a bonus when equipped to an unlocked perk slot, though they weren’t available for the PAX demo.

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Thunder Lotus have certain randomly generated parts of game to build on the replayability of Sundered. These random portions are depicted as gray on the map, while blue rooms are the same for each playthrough. Further, hordes of enemies will spawn randomly in different places throughout the game, meaning that entire rooms and mobs will change in-between runs of Sundered. In addition, Sundered will have multiple endings based on as-yet-unseen choices in the game.

As impressive as Sundered’s visuals are, what really impressed us was how comfortable the mechanical elements feel. Eshe is incredibly responsive to player inputs, both with air control and animation interrupting. This makes Eshe’s dodge remarkably useful, as you can use it to escape damage even by interrupting one of your own slower attacks. It always makes Eshe’s slower ranged and heavy attacks more usable in horde engagements. We’re not natural platformers at GamersNexus, but even we felt comfortable with how well Eshe handled in the demo.

We didn't get to experience first-hand one the most striking visual scenes we’ve seen released of Sundered, like the giant boss gif that’s been distributed, but it does give the game the promise of terrifying and awe-inspiring bosses. Sundered is due to release July of this year, but we don't have the exact date at this time. Price target is $20, though that’s subject to change.

- Keegan Gallick

Last modified on March 13, 2017 at 4:30 pm

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