PSX 2016 – Sundered Preview – Breathtaking Action (PS4)
Montreal-based studio Thunder Lotus Games made quite the debut with Jotun. Their successfully crowdfunded action game featured gorgeous artwork, gigantic screen-filling bosses, and an interesting Norse setting. It made its way to PlayStation 4 earlier this year, and now the developer is working on a new title called Sundered.
This Metroidvania-style 2D action game features a lot of the same strengths as Jotun, while also shoring up its weaknesses. The artwork is still breathtakingly gorgeous, as it features hand-drawn characters and environments. The action still feels as smooth as ever, and yes, behemoth-sized bosses do return. It’s a very different game from Jotun, but it’s clear that Thunder Lotus Games learned a lot from their first game. It’s great to see a developer that understood what worked in their previous game, and then really taking advantage of the criticism they received (both positive and negative).
In the demo I controlled a wanderer named Eshe. Not much backstory was given, but I found myself in a creepy cavern. After fiddling around with the controls and noticing that I had two different types of attacks (a melee sword strike and a chargeable laser gun), I quickly found myself in an enemy encounter and had to use these skills to survive. The game unleashed about a dozen creepy creatures after me, and while I managed to slice through some of them, I eventually succumbed to my enemies.
Death isn’t a penalty in Sundered, as it’s an expected part of the game. In fact, it’s actually where the player gets to use the experience they’ve earned and can power-up their character. After doing just that, I went back into the cave I had just been in. I was more powerful, and was ready to take down the enemies that had bested me before.
This time around I had a slightly better grasp on the combat, and I found it highly enjoyable. I’d push enemies away with my melee strikes, then once they were all lined up, I’d unleash a giant ball of energy towards them. This strategy proved efficient and I didn’t die again during the demo, although I did find myself in some tight situations.
While I dug Sundered‘s combat, I really got into it once I started unlocking new abilities. Later on in the demo I unlocked the ability to dash, which let me get past purple waterfalls that had previously blocked my path. Not only was this a satisfying way to traverse, it also helped me out in combat as I could get away from enemies.
My demo eventually ended with me wandering into a large room that was taken up by a boss I couldn’t even see the head of. He was absolutely gigantic. The behemoth lifted his foot and then stomped on my character and a late title screen showed. It was an awesome tease for the full game, and I’m absolutely sold.
It’s also worth noting that a big part of Sundered is that the game will be replayable. Jotun received some criticism for being linear, and that’s one of the qualms that Thunder Lotus Games are trying to fix here. A large part of this comes from the world being procedurally generated, and that the enemy encounters are all dynamic. This should result in a game that has considerable staying power, and I’ll find out later this year when Sundered releases on PlayStation 4.