Let’s talk Thunder Lotus Games first. This is the team that brought the world the amazing game Jotun. If you haven’t heard of Jotun please feel free to check out my review of it here! This glorious team between their two games they have released (Jotun and Sundered), they have quickly become one of my favorite developers. They push the bar in games with beautiful hand-drawn animation, satisfying difficulty, and larger than life boss battles. Every bit of their games are true works of art…sorry for the detour, let’s get into Sundered.
You play a single character, Eshe a wanderer. You get trapped in gorgeous caverns mixed with humongous statues and technology. It’s this mix that drove my curiosity to continue. What the hell is going on? Why is there electronic locks in such a primitive local? That alone was just a fun piece of the game that just made it so damn fun. Throughout your journey, through the caverns, you meet up with seemingly impossible hordes of enemies. Though somewhat avoidable, you really don’t want to. Defeating enemies, smashing glass vials, crates and corrupted treasures, you gather shards. These shards are basically Sundered’s currency. You can level up your character with these shards to your liking. To level up your skills, the ‘roadmap’ is very RPG like where there are bubbles attached in paths depending on what skills you want to level. How do you get your skills? You have to defeat mini-bosses to unlock a skill. They are called mini-bosses, but there really isn’t anything mini about them. You get more than skills from mini-bosses though, you also get Elder Shards. Now, this is where the game takes place. Once you gather three of these Elder Shards, you have the chance to gain corrupted abilities (much to the delight of the demonic voice that guides you), or you can destroy them and keep your humanity. This is ultimately your choice and the ending is affected by your decision.
I really had a blast playing through Sundered. There was a map which was a huge help and helped with the ‘Metroidvania’-like feel to the game. Every room could be different, meaning the enemies could be there, or empty, or even a massive horde that decides to spring an attack on you. Doors to different areas could be locked and you have to find the way to unlock them. Some requiring a new skill to acquire to get past the lock. Everything was really well done and it wasn’t hard to not get lost…if you paid attention to the map…unlike me (Haha). The difficulty of the enemies ramped up with new areas you unlocked and old tactics will need to evolve as the enemies patterns and strength changes as well. Everything about the core game flowed so smoothly and was damn enjoyable I lost track of time playing.
I can’t say enough about Sundered’s look and graphics. They are so damn pretty to look at, I wish more developers would use the hand-drawn technique. I know it’s more difficult but god damn is it so beautiful. The colors are rich and mesmerizing, and the little details are mind-blowing. I know I mentioned it in the Jotun review, but it really feels like you are in a Don Bluth film, the nostalgia hits hard. I’m pretty sure I died at each boss I faced, especially the massive major boss, just looking at the artistic quality of the bosses and how massive they actually are compared to your character…it’s a little overwhelming, to say the least. Audio wise, it fits perfectly. Even the small audio clips of the battles, or even doors opening or closing. Nothing sounds out of place or out of ‘character’. Everything just fit.
Even the controls were smooth, I never once felt like I was fumbling around or hitting the wrong button trying to pull off a string of hits or jumping to and from a chain of platforms. If I missed, I knew it was my fault. Dodging oncoming swarms of enemies or projectiles was easy and damn necessary to make sure you didn’t get absorbed into the corruption. The difficulty was a bit rough at times, but it was never impossible. At times you had to take a step back and just watch the animations and gather clues on enemies or bosses. That’s where that detail in the graphics steps in, it pays off to stop and watch the beauty.
Thunder Lotus Games absolutely destroys the genre of action platformers, other developers should take notes. This is how they should be made. Sundered should be on your list for purchase in the future if you haven’t already. If it hits the Steam sale, please take full advantage of the deal. There is no way you can go wrong picking this game up.
Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch received a code for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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+ Absolutely gorgeous
+ Curiosity driven story
+ Rewarding difficulty
+ Multiple endings provides replayability
- Difficulty may turn off some casual gamers
- May need to grind a little to level your stats up