It’s been said that there’s more to life than music and, while we remain sceptical, we’ve decided to test the premise with our new bi-weekly Cool People Column!
Noyan and Eden already bring you great pop culture recommendations and discussions each week on Heavy Pod is Heavy, but why should they get to have all the fun? (Just because they essentially maintain and run the blog itself? I think not!) Now it’s the rest of the staff’s turn to share all the cool things from beyond the world of music that have been tickling their fancy over the last fortnight; everything from books to films, TV shows, video games and beyond!
We also want to know what all you cool people out there have been getting up to as well, so make sure to let us know in the comments.
Thunder Lotus Games‘ Sundered (2017) is a somewhat-Metroid-like, hack n’ slash rogue-like, with an (explicitly) Lovecraftian aesthetic, that’s an absolute blast. Think an open-world Dead Cells (2017) with a bit more of an eldritch sci-fi aesthetic. Just like Dead Cells, Sundered is a joy to move through, especially once you’ve upgraded a lot of your abilities, and exploration is made even more rewarding by having each run’s progress inform the next run. Although it shares a lot of DNA with many of the 2D Dark Souls-like on offer, the game loop is entirely different. Rather than having to make a desperate “corpse run” to retrieve lost experience, all experience is retained on death, with each new run beginning with the opportunity to upgrade stats and abilities using the game’s extensive Final Fantasy X-like upgrade tree. Death, thereby, becomes a reward, rather than a punishment, with the opportunity to go and explore other areas, rather than continually butting your head up against ones that are too difficult.
The game’s a mix of fixed and procedurally generated areas, with major, fixed points linked together by varying in-between areas, although they never vary that often. In fact the procedurally generated areas differ so little that they may as well have kept a fixed map, but left the random enemy encounters and timed power-ups (which are way too scarce) to mix things up. Nevertheless, the environments, although repetitive, are absolutely gorgeous, and traversal is so quick and fluid that it rarely felt like a chore. Sundered is a game of surprising depth, although it does tend to trail off toward the end, with little actual “secrets” to discover and disappointing end bosses, that only seem to be beatable by stocking up on extra armour and shield upgrades/perks so that the damage they inflict becomes entirely negligible. The first 95% of the game, however, remains thoroughly rewarding and it never overstays its welcome, as many Metroidvanias and Souls-likes tend to do. If anything, it left me wanting more, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on what the studio put out in future.