Sundered is Jotun developer Thunder Lotus’ take on the Metroidvania genre – one heavily influenced by Rogue Legacy with large chunks of randomly generated passages and a hub you visit for permanent upgrades everytime you die. Much like Jotun it is a very pretty game, and as a big appreciator of the genre the high production values of sundered make it into a competent game.

Unfortunately, it feels like the changes Sundered brings to the Metroidvania formula does not really serve to make the game better. The randomized levels means backtracking is a chore as you have to re-explore a similar set of rooms every time you die and there are no smaller secrets or especially interesting challenges to provide something to look forward to. The upgrade system does make sure you consistently get stronger even in failure, but it also gives you a trickling power increase that doesn’t require any real effort and doesn’t provide any interesting choices or changes to the gameplay.

Finally, contributing to the blandness of the levels, the enemies are not manually placed to create interesting encounters but randomly spawns and comes after you – occasionally in large waves. There is little finesse to each enemy, instead the game relies entirely on overwhelming the player with cheap tactics – enemies can spawn and shoot at you from several screens away and can ignore level geometry. It does create some fighting that at least looks intense, but frequently the game will put you in fields that damage you over time and put obstructions in your way out while covering the screen in effects making it impossible to see where the player character is. Late-game areas have instant-death pits that require minutes of backtracking to get back to, and thanks to the randomness of the game an impossible situation might be trivial the next run making it feel like whatever you learned from the first time didn’t matter.

Now, there’s an appeal to button-mashing horde combat and maybe you enjoy that more than traditional Metroidvania fighting. Even as a fan I can admit that games in the genre typically get very similar, and if you are bothered by this or just feel that rougelites are more interesting then Sundered might be a good choice. It is a game with high production values and much like Jotun the boss fights are mostly interesting, so I can’t say I regret playing it, but it feels to me like an ambitious and ultimately failed experiment.

… On a personal note, I didn’t write anything for new years – no particular reason other than that I was busy, and I had already spent all of December talking on facebook about my favorite 2017 games. For the record, Hollow Knight was my top choice though I spent the most time with Destiny 2.

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Posted on Jan 18/18 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »