Reviews - Updated on April 13, 2022

Recently I wrote about Pyre, and after passing through Sundered, I thought that the authors of this “metroidvania” (they released Jotun before it) and Supergiant Games have a lot in common: both of them rely on an unusual, mysterious plot, recognizable style , thick atmosphere and absolutely ingeniously drawn picture. But why do the developers of Pyre, Transistor and Bastion get a standing ovation, while the work of Thunder Lotus Games deserves more modest applause, interrupted by sharp questions from the audience?Sundered game review

The picture in Sundered looks even better than in Jotun.

The tetrahexahedron will show the way!

No, Jotun was certainly good – atmospheric, saturated with northern winds and Scandinavian myths, a Thor-approved hand-drawn action-adventure game in which we, trying to impress the gods and finally get to Valhalla, fought big, well, very big “bosses” . The authors did not hide that they were inspired by Shadow of the Colossus and Dark Souls. And yet, Jotun, in comparison with the games of the same Supergiant Games, lacked some kind of integrity and diversity.

Sundered also has problems with this – but not only with this. Here the authors clearly drew inspiration from two-dimensional “metroidvania” – with action, “pumping”, traps and platforming elements. We again take on the role of a girl: this time her name is Ash, and she ended up underground in a certain temple, where a strange mineral Tetrahexahedron spoke to her in an unknown language (in Jotun, I remind you, everything is voiced in Icelandic). He promises to help get out into the wild, and for this he asks to follow his instructions, clearly hiding his own motives.

Someone will say that the plot is presented mysteriously and intriguingly, someone – that it is sparingly and nothing is really clear. Gradually, it only becomes clear that people were excavating here and desecrated the sanctuaries, and the main thread twists around the confrontation between gods, nature, elements on the one hand and technology on the other.

Genre standards

The authors of Sundered carefully follow many of the laws of metroidvania. Ash fights (including, of course, with “bosses”), jumps on platforms, overcomes traps and looks with lust at doors locked for the time being. First, she needs to learn new skills in order to return and gain access to previously closed locations, secret rooms, shrines of abilities and other sources of rewards, such as a cannon, the shot from which activates energy sources and opens something; double jump; the ability to break doors and so on.Sundered game review

Jumping and fighting is comfortable enough, but still exhausting over time.

Not only health elixirs fall out of the defeated enemies, but also crystals, for which in the shelter (we get there every time after the next death of the character, but we are allowed to return at any time and at will) you can improve various parameters – increase the damage done or reduce the damage received , increase health, energy shield power, and the like.

There are many parameters and skill branches – there is where to roam and where to “pump”. In addition, from time to time Ash finds special bonuses, amulets, which in Sundered play the role of “perks” with their pluses and minuses – for example, a health amulet increases the chance of healing elixirs, but reduces the number of crystals remaining after enemies.

Finally, all the way Ash collects the so-called fragments of the Ancients, and having collected, decides what to do with them – destroy and get a lot of crystals for “pumping” or use them to modify (distort) his main abilities, gaining, for example, the ability to fly some that time in the form of a black winged creature. And connected with this is the now fashionable variation of the moral choice – the more often Ash uses the fragments, the more she becomes a monster, and by destroying them, she retains her human essence. This, of course, affects the ending of this whole strange story.

Sundered game review

What is “metroidvania” without the search for treasures, albeit perverted ones?

Our whole life is a battle!

That is, everything seems to be in Sundered, including monstrous “bosses”, the design of which even the creators of Silent Hill would envy. And all this is framed by atmospheric music and a really ingeniously drawn picture, where, as in Jotun and The Banner Saga, much is built on rich colors, careful drawing of details, as well as on the contrast between the small figure of the heroine and the huge, majestic figures of the “bosses”. ”, some sculptures, figures and strange structures.

However, there are many questions for Sundered. The world is empty, there are no mysteries, interesting characters too. Only enemies that constantly “spawn” in waves right out of the air. The authors claim that they have implemented a special mechanic – the longer you stay somewhere in one place, the faster and more opponents attack, but in fact they attack almost constantly.

And after death, you always respawn in a shelter, from where you then need to run back for half an hour, breaking through crowds of monsters. The declared procedural generation of levels at the same time creates almost identical locations (as a rule, only the location of the doors changes), and the combat system is quite primitive – you can hit forward, up, down, cut in a jump, shoot from a cannon, but at the same time you will always tirelessly rub the same one or two buttons.

And in fights with “bosses” it is almost always necessary to break the fragments of the Ancients, which are enclosed in their bodies, according to the same scheme. As a result, all this begins to tire – even despite the fact that the enemies here really behave differently in battle, requiring a special approach to themselves.

Sundered game review

The sprawling skill tree is somewhat reminiscent of what we saw in Path of Exile.

***

Sundered is a stylish, beautiful, atmospheric and hardcore game. She is able to interest and captivate. Especially at first, especially those who love high complexity, constant “pumping” and a constant challenge. But those who expected more variety, mysteries and opportunities for interested exploration of the world from Metroidvania are likely to be disappointed. As a representative of this genre, Sundered is inferior to both Ori and the Blind Forest and Child of Light.

Pros: rich opportunities for character development; many different enemies; convenient management; excellent design of “bosses”; incomparable visual and sound design; unique style and atmosphere.

Cons: indistinct plot; unpretentious combat system; there are practically no interesting puzzles and characters; often it seems that there are too many enemies, and constant fights and half-hour runs from the shelter are annoying.

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