Game Review #205: Sundered: Eldritch Edition (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games
Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer, Multiplayer
Release Date: 12.21.2018
Price (at time of review): $19.99
Buy Sundered: Eldritch Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
With Strange Aeons Even Death May Die
The Metroidvania is not only loved by many, but a genre that has a lot of company on the eShop. The bestseller list always has this genre sprinkled throughout, and at this point, you really have to bring something new or find some way to stand out to bring in those gamers. Thunder Lotus Games’ first entry was Jotun, and now the Montreal-based studio had an idea for its sophomore attempt with Sundered: Eldritch Edition, mixing the Metroidvania genre with roguelike elements and a Lovecraftian horror twist.
As a lot of developers seem to do, they turned to Kickstarter for crowdfunding to help get the project going. They were seeking $25,000 CAD, and smashed that by 400%, hitting $202,102 CAD by 4,681 backers. So, let’s jump in and find out if this is one we all need to add to our collection, or if this will just be another Metroidvania that missed the mark.
Cthulhu & Friends Want To Hug It Out
The story starts off with off with our main protagonist, Eshe, a soon-to-be warrior. After being pulled into an ever-shifting underworld, Eshe encounters Trapezohedron, who grants her the powers to defend herself against the monsters she will face, and the two set off into the caves together. The story is then broken down and told in pieces, but never straightforward, as the story seems to take a slight back seat—though, overall, I like the story, just not as much how it’s laid out.
Trapezohedron explains to Eshe that their civilization, known as Eschaton, was at war with a force known as the Valkyries, who used advanced technology to battle the magic of the Eschanton. What’s left after their war is both sides being either monsters or warped mutated beings that are left wandering the caves. You acquire Valkyrie tech, as well as finding Elder Shards, to help you battle the monsters. You can use the shards to corrupt your abilities—at the risk of your humanity—to becomes more powerful, or you can destroy the shards, upgrading you base stats. There are three endings, but after 16 hours of gameplay, I got one ending done for now—but as you can see, there is plenty of replay value here. But it was kind of a drag finding out that replaying it and choosing a different path would only give me a different ending, not a different overall experience, as I feel a lot of the story elements have been done before, so I was hoping this would help it stand out from the pack.
Slicing Monsters Throats Is Such Sweet Sorrow
This is where things are going to get a little tricky, as I judge the game on its own merits, but I can’t help but know the competition that Sundered faces. The controls are done very well and the mechanics felt solid, no matter if I was fighting hordes of monsters piling up on me, or jumping all over and acquiring abilities like grappling and much more, as this always felt fluid and very well-done. The A button allows you to dodge roll, which gives you a small window of invincibility. You will get an air dash along the way also. Chain combo attacks together and you will build up a massive power attack that will be very helpful in demolishing these ugly bastards. You will also find and unlock a powerful energy cannon, which is some of that Valkyrie tech we spoke about before.
As said before, this is a Metroidvania where you traverse a large map starting off with very basic skills and abilities, but before you know it, you upgrade skills to become a monster-slaying badass, which allows you to move along in progression. When you die it doesn’t feel cheap, and it actually felt as though even death serves its own purpose, as you are then taken to a skills tree where you can spend the shards you collected to upgrade your abilities; and every time I jumped back in, I felt the tweaks immediately. The map layout is where the roguelike rears its head, as the small rooms are procedurally generated, but the larger rooms don’t change. This was one aspect I didn’t like about the game, as I felt it took away from the gameplay experience.
As you move forward, you’ll encounter monsters that attack often, and sometimes in what feels like overwhelming waves. But, after unlocking and upgrading skills, you’ll find that enemies become easier to handle, even if it sometimes felt like someone left the monster valve on too long and they kept on coming, just flooding in from all areas sometimes and not giving you a chance to just take in the moment; but the other half of that is that it keeps the momentum going, so even though to me it felt a little much, you may like that aspect. The boss battles are epic, and the most notable aspect with bosses being their huge scale. Sometimes the battles went as long as 10-15 minutes. With the difficulty building as you got closer to defeating the boss, the extra challenge was welcomed, and a nice change of pace to the waves of monsters really testing my skills.
Been Here Before But It’s Really Pretty
The art style chosen is gorgeous, for the most part, as the character design is done well and the bosses are a visual treat, but the levels can tend to look a little repetitive and bland after encountering the same level design over and over again. Something that was more of a missed opportunity was, when your character levels up, you have to choose light or dark, and it would’ve been nice to physically change Eshe’s appearance based on your choice.
The music was basic and underwhelming for the most part, as it’s mostly silence and environmental sounds, which really didn’t help to pull me in. The voiceover work done was terrifying, but done superbly well. Again the boss battles stand out in this department, as the music ramps up, and before you know it, your pulse is pounding to the sound of the orchestra. Though, I have to report, there was some frame dropping in some points, but this might be able to be patched out, and didn’t hurt my experience.
The game on Switch also comes with the DLC, adding extra challenges and up to 4-player local co-op, which is pure madness in all the right ways.
It’s A Wrap!!!
I can easily recommend Sundered to any fan of the Metroidvania genre, as this title was made with love and was a lot of fun, though there were parts that didn’t hit the peaks they could have. With the genre being so stacked with high-level competition, you have to engage the player in every way possible, and in many ways Sundered does, with some of the most epic and pulse-pounding boss battles I’ve ever had the joy of playing through. With the DLC and local co-op—and easily 30 hours of gameplay, if not more—I can say the value is there, so if you are a fan of the genre, you need to pick up Sundered: Eldritch Edition and decide which path you’ll choose.
Buy Sundered: Eldritch Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Thunder Lotus Games