Be careful the deals you make in the darkness; you can never fully know just who or what you are dealing with… or what their offers will truly cost you.
This is the overarching theme of the haunting, yet gorgeously stylized world of Sundered: Eldritch Edition by Thunder Lotus Games. While Sundered was released in the summer of 2017 on PC, Mac, Linux, and Playstation 4, we will be reviewing it today on Nintendo Switch ahead of its release.
In Sundered, you play as Eshe, a woman trapped in an ever-changing world where death eludes her while monstrous enemies pursue her. Eshe finds herself tempted by some elder voice speaking words of tantalizing power to her, all while outlining her weaknesses and need for what it can offer her. The temptation continues as a taste of that power is delivered through corrupted artifacts and the usage of the Shining Trapezohedron – an amorphous weapons that takes different forms based on how Eshe uses it. With all of these promises of power and a desire to break free from this purgatory, will she gain the world by sacrificing her soul?
You make that choice.
As you defeat enemies and delve into the depths, you will collect shards of power that can be spent within a skills tree upon your return to the Sanctuary… and that that return can either be willingly or through your death. The Trapezohedron’s Tree, as it is called, has upgrades for your base armor, health, shields, luck, and damage, as well as special bonuses to each. Much like other rogue-likes, as each skill increases, so does their cost. There is also a perks wheel which will allow you to socket three perks within it. Perks can be found throughout the world, but their bonuses come at a price. Will you sacrifice some damage output for extra health or shield regeneration rate?
Again, you make the choice.
Sundered is set in a beautiful hand-drawn world with character models that are just as lovingly crafted. This style creates monsters that are a stunningly designed, yet terrifying in their Lovecraftian inspiration. Their movements, attacks, and ever their death animations have a luring quality about them that it can be easy to lose yourself in appreciating the work that went into their design. The problem is this: there is often a LOT of them on the screen!
While you are exploring, you can (and will) get randomly overrun by hordes of enemies. You could be minding your own business, busting open some crates for extra shards when, BAM!, the floodgates open to the tune of a thousand gaping maws hungering for your flesh. Fortunately, you have some tools that can help you clear the playing field. The Shining Trapezohedron has finisher moves which is charged up through using normal attacks and discharged to unless the fury of the void. Not only that, you will eventually find items like the Valkyrie Cannon which pierces objects and enemies without reservation.
Speaking of exploration, Sundered follows the Metroidvania formula of map design and has a little bit of fun with it by adding procedurally generated rooms into its rogue-like mix. While some rooms remain static, there are other spaces which shift after every death. Those spaces must be explored again to reveal their changes. While occasionally annoying to make your way back to the places you have died, it does keep the anticipation fresh for what might be there once you return… if you return.
You make the choice.
Along the way, you will discover fragments of Elder shards, great and terrible eldritch artifacts which can either be used to corrupt Valkyrie shrines for the promise of power or incinerated. This… this is where you must choose wisely. Will you embrace the powers made in the darkness or reject their seductive words? Your choices will determine the direction of Sundered and, ultimately, the fate of Eshe.
If you are looking for a challenging Metroidvania game with a darker feel than Dead Cells with a replay value, Sundered: Eldritch Edition is worth the descent into madness. It will be $19.99 on the Nintendo Switch eShop and will become available for purchase on December 21st. This edition will include the base game, Magnate of the Gong update, extra gameplay areas, and the option to play with up to four players in local cooperative play.
What will you choose when deals are offered in the dark? You make the choice.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Dead Cells, Super Metroid, Strider