Attention to Detail in an Insane World: An Interview with Jo-Annie Gauthier of Sundered

Sundered rewards the player’s attention to detail.

Written by Drew Dixon / Published on June 19, 2017

I recently finished Sundered’s beta and absolutely loved the game’s aesthetic of impending dread and overwhelming odds. Thunder Lotus Games, developers of Sundered and Jotun, teased the game’s final boss in a short video at E3, if this boss fight is even more intense than the boss I beat in the beta, those who make it this far are in for a treat next month (July) when Sundered releases on PS4 and Steam.

The world of Sundered is foreboding and very little is spelled out for the player. Instead player’s must pay careful attention to the game’s level and sound design—each is constantly giving clues that help the player suss out the world and delve further into its imposing caverns. The game rewards the player’s attention to detail—sussing out its systems while surviving a massive onslaught of enemies is incredibly satisfying.

Now that I’ve spent significant time with Sundered and experienced its unique aesthetic, I thought it would be a good time to share our recent interview with Jo-Annie Gauthier, the game’s art director about its design and what she hopes players will gain from their experience:

Tell us a little bit about the game. What makes it unique?

Sundered is a replayable metroidvania game. Its a horrifying fight for survival and sanity. You play as Eshe, a wanderer in a ruined world. You are trapped in ever-changing caverns and you have to battle through hoards and hoards of terrifying enemies.

As the game’s art director, how do you instill in the player that sense of overwhelming obstacles and insanity?

When we actually started brainstorming the game we were very inspired by the Alien movies—very dark, very claustrophobic feeling worlds. A lot of the design actually comes from the level design, the way the rooms are shaped—we just worked into those shapes a very eerie aesthetic in hopes of increasing the player’s sense of dread.

If you had to narrow it down to one thing that you hope players gain from their experience with Sundered what would it be?

I hope players have fun. Honestly our desire is that players would always feel like they are achieving something, always having fun and always progressing. So we want players to feel strong as they are conquering this really weird world.

Last thing I like to ask designers: what drives you to make games, why do you make games?

I make games I want to play. I’ve been an artist for a long time and I know a lot of great people who absolutely love games and it just happens that I am working with them. So we are making exactly the sort of games we want to see out there. Its our passion, we love games.

About the Author:

Drew Dixon is editor-in-chief of Game Church. He also edits for Christ and Pop Culture and writes about videogames for Paste Magazine, Relevant Magazine, Bit Creature, and Think Christian.