Sundered is a visually unique metroidvania style game, and the newest title from the creators of Jotun, Thunder Lotus Games. You play as Eshe, a wanderer in a ruined possibly post-apocalyptic world, who stumbles upon a temple and an “all to kind’ demon-esque character who lends you his powers to fight you’re way out of the temple as long as you do as he says. Sounds a bit suspicious, but you need his help to survive and along the way he tells you about the history of the temple, and the valkyries who came to try and make it their own.
First thing you’ll notice about this game is the beautiful hand drawn art-style, it gives Sundered a unique touch that makes it extra-enjoyable. I had a lot of fun during my time spent with this game, it definitely has some pretty in-depth features and a ton of replayability. First off the skill tree is quite large, and fleshed out through three main abilities you get over the progress of the game. You can upgrade these with points you earn from killing enemies or finding treasure. In Sundered, Death equals progression, so the first time you die, you’re informed about the skill tree as you’re loaded back into the starting area and given a chance to start laying out your character build. Hundreds of things to choose from, and as expected, the price of these upgrades increases with every purchase, but you earn points quicker than you’d think.
With the game being hand-drawn the levels are gorgeous, and so are the eldritch horror-like character designs. Everything stands out. One thing I’m not too clear on is I was told the levels change when you die, but everything I had already explored was the same, so I’m not sure what changed as I was able to easily navigate back to where I had been defeated previously. It wasn’t too much of a bother because the environment is fun to run though, and they give you plenty of mobility options, even some things you need to figure out for yourself, like using an aerial attack after a jump can help you get to higher places. Certain areas are skill locked, meaning you need to unlock a new skill, to get past the obstacles blocking your path, which is a bit refreshing instead of just having everything stuck behind a locked door, it makes the flow of the game feel a bit more natural.
The combat gets incredibly hectic, and at times can be frustrating, but keeping your wits about you helps. It seems like the game will just randomly throw groups of enemies at you, but it seems to keep you on your toes. Combat is easy enough, with dodging, slashing, blasting, learning your enemies is very important for survival and isn’t as hard as it seems. I never felt too frustrated that I wanted to stop, it made me want to try harder. Feeling as though I’d been bested in something I could definitely overcome with a little more perseverance and working on my timing.
Story elements are presented in certain areas, and they involve you platforming to hit floating orbs, and the creature possessing you regales you with a few brief points about the history of the once great temple. This is a time before the valkyrie showed up with their tech, and started almost mutilating the temple and these dark shards. If you like metroidvania style games, you enjoy a challenge, and you want a breathtakingly beautiful game to explore, definitely pick up Sundered and get lost in the battle for your sanity.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided a PS4 code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.