Sundered (Beta) (PC) Preview

By Eric 22.05.2017

Review for Sundered (Beta) on PC

The recently-moved-to-beta Sundered is a platformer created by Thunder Lotus Games, who is more famous for the, generally, quite disappointing Jotun. Set in a dark world with creatures based loosely on Lovecraftian horror, the player must explore shifting worlds while slowly gaining power. Featuring hand-drawn art, RPG upgrades, and random dungeon layouts, it hits a few interesting notes some might want to take a look at.

Sundered, unlike the very similar Dead Cells, has an uphill battle out of its way in beta. At its root, this sticks by many principles of new modern Metroidvanias. It features upgrades, very hard difficulty, constant dying, and randomly created dungeons. While many systems and ideas have some great potential, though, other problems weigh it down from a good recommendation. It hits many things right, but others leave a bad taste, and will likely make some gamers wary over a purchase.

Screenshot for Sundered (Beta) on PC

First things first, both the backgrounds and the enemies are masterfully done. Some of the foes are legitimately scary, like an electric slug that burrows through the ground, jumping with a loud shriek to damage the player - it sets a great horror feel watching them circle beneath on a lower platform. Many of the backgrounds feature cool things like statues of other-worldly creatures.

There is the potential for some really interesting story and world building, but as of this time, it is unknown whether this is actually going to be fulfilled. There were no story elements in the beta to speak of, which comes off as really odd. Is the character dreaming, dead, on another planet, or in hell? Such a question is never answered, and while dropping players into a game can work (assuming something happens soon after), it comes off as frustrating, as deaths occur very often, and the player constantly will find themselves asking "Why am I even here, anyway?"

Screenshot for Sundered (Beta) on PC

Killing and exploring gains characters points that can be used to boost stats, and is a nice way to gradually make them stronger. There is a 'tree' system for the unlockables, but it doesn't matter given there are no fundamental choices to make, compared to simply getting whatever can be afforded at the time. As far as movement goes, it's decidedly average. The camera has a bit of a weird scroll to it that feels almost laggy or unresponsive, and this mixed with a slick/slippery type feel to the character lends itself to a moderated platform experience at best. It is completely passable, but many of the jumps and techniques leave the player feeling like there is a level of luck involved for whether something is going to work all right.

Screenshot for Sundered (Beta) on PC

One major criticism is the flood of enemies. It all works on a timer system in which, every once in a while, the enemies are unleashed. They all can go through and shoot through walls, meaning there is no running. The idea of the enemies coming and not being able to hide sets a good tension in theory. The reality often is simply button-mashing until one side is dead (of which it is the player regularly). It does not give a 'hostile world' feel to it so much as "Well, here comes the next wave."

It is quite unfortunate, as the atmosphere of Sundered lends itself perfectly to a more survival horror or careful approach to gaming. The wave mechanic not only destroys immersion, it really takes away from the whole survival aspect. There is not the tension of "Can I risk a fight with this next guy?" so much as a binary fight-to-the-death melee every couple of minutes. Given only average combat at best, many of these minor issues tie back into themselves, reinforcing the problems apparent in the game.

Screenshot for Sundered (Beta) on PC

Final Thoughts

There is some good stuff here and a potential for a great title, but, as a platformer, it is currently missing in some of the key elements of the genre. It looks mostly average due to parts that, while actually really good, get dragged down by severe issues. The platforming and fighting is largely mediorce at best, and the repeated deaths serve only to annoy. These take away from a world that actually seems interesting - even if it is never actually touched on.

Developer

Thunder Lotus Games

Publisher

Thunder Lotus Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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