Sundered

Fighting Sundered’s eldritch horrors is gonna make you feel good

We have got to talk about the gun in Sundered. I know—a gun? Videogames have a lot of guns so what can possibly make this one special? Well, it’s large. (Uh huh.) It fires a huge laser ball. (Uh huh.) And it knocks you flying backwards. (Right.)

Look, you didn’t have the shock I did when I first pressed the Shoot button while playing Sundered‘s demo, okay? I don’t know if there’s any other game that, from the very start, gives you such an absurd weapon. I love how over the top it is. Eshe, the woman you play as in Sundered, has to sling it over both her shoulders to fire it, like she’s carrying the trunk of a tree she just fell. Then, when she fires it, she gets launched back across the 2D space so far that the camera has to zoom out to keep up with her trajectory. This is a thick-ass gun. A goddamn laser cannon. I love it.

you’re fighting for your sanity as well as your survival

Anyway, now that’s outta the way, I should tell you what else I learned about Sundered from its demo. Don’t worry, I can do better than saying ‘it was good’ or ‘my word, that gun though.’ Speaking of which, check out the new trailer for the game below, and look out for a couple of very quick peeks at that gun.

Right, to bring you up to speed, Sundered is a game filled with eldritch horrors to battle. And as is often associated with the word “eldritch,” it’s a game in which you’re fighting for your sanity as well as your survival. There are also nasty tentacles looking to grab ya because of course there is. I can’t talk too much on the world the game takes place in except for that as the demo didn’t go into it.

However, I would note that, in the trailer, it’s said that the nature of humanity has been corrupted and that a better future requires sacrifice. This seems to correspond to two features in the game: the first is that you’re able to upgrade Eshe to make her stronger, but she also gains new powers from huge, strange statues that look like the one below. The ability I acquired in the demo replaced her dodge-roll with a short teleport, letting her pass through purple, gungy waterfalls that she couldn’t before. If you ask me, these powers make her more agile, yes, but are also corrupting her further. I’m expecting consequences later on in the game.

Sundered

The second feature is that, to upgrade Eshe—that is, to get to the skill tree where you spend points you’ve gained—you need to die. You shouldn’t die purposely, of course. It’s more a case that this system that places death as a requirement towards improvement means you’re able to return to the thing that killed you a bit stronger than before (it also probably means that no-death runs are encouraged). That seems like a pretty sensible bit of design. It’s a game that gives you a bit of a boost when you’re down, letting every second encounter tip a little more towards your favor, whether it’s due to an increased shield, more health, a stronger attack, whatever.

as good as getting a strike in a game of bowling

But that isn’t enough to survive the enemies in Sundered. Its combat seems to place an emphasis on crowd control. Most fights have you outnumbered heavily but all sorts of ghastly creatures. They launch skulls from up high, leap from the sides, dive you from above, charge at you like a herd of stampeding elephants. You’re kitted out with the tools to deal with it. Not just diving to avoid taking damage or depleting the shield, but quick slashing combos with a sword to stop their attacks, jumping into the air and slamming back down, or knocking foes into the air and juggling them for free damage.

Then there’s the gun. It’s a vital tool, letting you launch that huge, slow-moving laser ball into a big crowd. Lining it up just right feels as good as getting a strike in a game of bowling. To balance the use of the gun, it takes away all your energy for a moment, meaning that you can’t dodge for a little while—you can still use your sword just fine. Which is a fair trade-off given that it’s capable of clearing a lot of space. It encourages careful and creative use, to blast a load of enemies at once for a breather, before heading back in to swashbuckle away.

Sundered

What the demo didn’t let me experience but did tease was a boss fight. As with Thunder Lotus’s previous game, Jotun, the bosses are set to be huge, hand-animated atrocities. The one I saw looked like a green corpse hanging out inside a giant metal spider with lots of ballistics ready to go. Fast-moving and kinda terrifying. The trailer teases that to beat these bosses you’ll need to make a choice. “Harness the power of corrupted relics to defeat gigantic bosses at the cost of your humanity,” reads the text. “Resist or Embrace.” It certainly seems like you’ll have an easier time by corrupting your humanity but I’m guessing by the end of the game you’ll be made to regret that somehow. We’ll have to wait until next year to find out.

Sundered is coming to Windows, Mac, Linux, and PlayStation 4 in 2017. Find out more on its website.