Released in 2015, and relaunched in 2016 with a new mode and console versions, Jotun was one of many names sometimes lost in the vortex of indie games t
hat we receive year after year. Perhaps it did not enjoy the popularity of others, but something that was noted by its particular visual section, hand drawn and reminiscent of the animation of the seventies, as well as by an ap
proach to the Shadow of the Colossus with its own giro (he used Nordic mythology to build his world). Press and audience responded quite well to the premiere of Thunder Lotus Games , so this Canadian studio immediately embarked on the development of its s
econd game: Sundered. The graphic style remained one of its main hallmarks, but the concept changed completely to go from a kind of “boss rush” with top view and small doses of exploration in between, to a lateral scroll meter with generated levels procedurally .
The theme has also taken a different direction, and leaves aside Nordic mythology (although it inherits some terms) to take us to a large net
work of underground caves where nature and technology go hand in hand with cosmic horrors inspired by the literature of Lovecraft . In the skin of Eshe, an explorer who takes over from the Viking warrior Thora, we are dragg
ed to this mysterious place and we must find a way to escape, but not before we see them with powerful bosses and join the pieces that form the plot puzzle. Unlike the Jotun monologues, interspersed with exploration to expose a multitude of references to those
less familiar with Scandinavian folklore, Sundered’s story is somewhat more ambiguous and uses its scenarios as well as the optional narratives to
create a vague idea in the player on the background, so that each one decides the attention he wants to give to the strokes that give life to a world that can fascinate or simply act as a game scenario.
The procedural metroidvania
The exquisite level of detail of the hand-painted backgrounds , with several planes both behind and even in front of the one used to move our protagonist, creates rich environments and a sense of depth unusual in a 2D title. Thunder Lotus has refined its technique and Sundered looks considerably better than Jotun, also allowing a faster game style thanks to a succe
ssful use of color and forms to locate different types of platforms, objects and enemies even moving at high speed (something that the game is vitally advanced). However, there is a catch, and resides precisely in one of the main characteristics o
f the work: theThe choice of sections generated at random causes a clear lack of identity in many rooms , designed as interchangeable pieces that are repeated and linked to create different combinations and make the tours of certain sections a slightly different experience on each occasion.
At this point it is necessary to remember that Sundered is a metroidvania , subgenre within action adventures (in this case, also with rolero touch) that has been subject to review by so many indies that it is impossible to list them. This kind of progression throu
gh backtracking (moving forward to get items or skills that unlock access to previous areas) is a great method to get a handful of hours at levels that do not need to be too long, as well as to promote spatial reasoning on the part of of the player, who sees his memory and / or good use of the map rewarded instead of simply moving towards the only possib
le direction. The problem is that with exponents of the stature of Guacamele ,Axiom Verge , Ori and the Blind Forest or Hollow Knight in recent years, it is increasingly difficult to sneak in among the big names, so design efficiency should also add fresh ideas to stand out. An
d Sundered’s is to divide the world into fixed areas (represented with an intense purple tone on the map) and areas that are different each time we load the game or die (represented by a more subdued purple that is filled with small black squares at explore them).