Sundered is Another Fine Metroidvania Game on Nintendo Switch, With a Dash of Lovecraft
If you fell in love with Hollow Knight, The Messenger, and other excellent Metroidvania games on Nintendo Switch, Sundered is another worthy addition.
To say that Metroidvania games had a great year in 2018 is an understatement, as this year showed that the genre is more vibrant and exciting than ever. The many superb Metroidvania titles that released this year took the core elements of the genre–exploration and discovery that is fueled by players unlocking new abilities–and mixed them with other gameplay styles to create entirely new experiences of their own, without making the genre feel worn or tired.
Whether it was the Dark Souls-like experience of Hollow Knight and Dead Cells, the witty humor and vibrant color of Guacamelee! 2, or the twists and turns of The Messenger, Metroidvania titles have had a renaissance in the past few years. If you’ve played any or all of those titles recently–especially on Nintendo Switch–you’ll probably want to add Sundered onto your list with its release this week for the system.
Sundered, for those that aren’t familiar with the game, originally released in the summer of last year on PS4 and PC and comes from developer Thunder Lotus Games, the makers of the excellent Jotun, which took players through a vast journey to strike down massive bosses under the inspiration of Norse mythology. As the studio’s second project, Sundered took on a completely different approach by taking the form of a 2D Metroidvania-style action-RPG/platformer, with the game’s visual inspiration instead borrowing heavily from the world and lore of H.P. Lovecraft.
While the game itself isn’t necessarily a direct adaptation of the Lovecraftian mythos, Sundered still, nonetheless, combines this visual inspiration with an intriguing sense of exploration, fast-paced (and challenging) combat, and an incredibly-detailed and lush art style that features beautiful hand-drawn artwork.
As far as the game’s storytelling goes, Sundered opts for a bit of a less straightforward narrative and instead lets the player piece together their own sort of interpretation of its world and lore. From the beginning of the game in the midst of a brutal sandstorm the main character, Eshe, ends up encountering an entrance to a vast underground world full of secrets and unknown threats. From there, players will then eventually enter the game’s main hub world, known as the Sanctuary, and take Eshe through a variety of environments that will rely on the player’s skills–and the gradual unlocking of new abilities–to push forward and discover new areas.
The core experience of Sundered won’t fall too outside the expectations that players might have from the Metroidvania genre, as you’ll largely guide Eshe through a series of different, interlocking spaces and gain access to new areas once you discover certain abilities. However, one of the key twists of Sundered comes from its unusual approach to death, as when the player gets killed, the environments in-game and their various passageways shift slightly through procedural generation. While there are specific locations and rooms that remain in the same places throughout the game, the passages and routes connecting them instead get shifted when players respawn, making the trek to get to them a challenge after each of the player’s deaths, and adding a slight roguelike element into the gameplay mix.
As we reviewed Sundered last year when it first released, a large portion of my thoughts on the game still stand strong with the game’s debut on Switch, and possibly even more. As a significant portion of my time playing games on Switch this year has gone to other Metroidvania games like the ones I mentioned before, Sundered is yet another excellent addition to those craving these types of games, and it feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch with the ability to take the game anywhere and explore its vast, horrific world at your own pace.
All-in-all after spending time with the Nintendo Switch version of Sundered, I’m happy to say that the game plays just as well (mostly) as it did when it first released, and when I previously played it on PC. The Switch proves itself up to the task of handling Sundered‘s fast-paced gameplay with responsive controls and doesn’t sacrifice any of the visual splendor and artistry that went into bringing its world to life, with the game especially feeling well-suited to being played in handheld mode.
However, the only issue that came up for me in my time with Sundered on Switch were some slight instances of the game hitching momentarily in-game. In some of the more action-heavy moments when I would be guiding Eshe through a challenging wave of enemies, on occasion I would see and feel the game freeze up for a split-second, presumably as it was either loading up an area or preparing for more enemies to appear (as enemy generation in the game happens randomly). These hitching instances from the game weren’t exactly ideal given the challenge that Sundered presents to players, along with the quick response times that the game demands from players, especially during combat.
Having noticed a similar issue that occurred in Dead Cells on Nintendo Switch when it first released a few months ago, I suspect that a similar underlying issue might be happening with Sundered‘s Switch iteration, though it’s hard to say for sure. While the game is far from unplayable because of this slight technical hitch, it’s at least something that I hope gets addressed with subsequent updates after the game’s launch for Switch, as it’s one of the only slight blemishes on the otherwise exceptional mix of gameplay and visuals that Sundered provides.
Despite the one lone technical issue I was running into, Sundered offers a deep, mystifying world to explore, and the Nintendo Switch version of the game perfectly compliments getting to delve into it further. While I already had loved the time that I spent with Sundered on PC, the game proves just as addicting to get back into on the Nintendo Switch, if not more, because of the system being so well-suited to the Metroidvania genre. Though the game can sometimes be a bit of a difficult experience, if you don’t mind a little bit of a challenge and some Lovecraftian horror thrown into the mix, Sundered will drive you far from mad.