I think everyone who derives any real enjoyment out of playing video games has sat down and thought about making their own game. It’s just a phase I think you go through, maybe more than once or twice. But unlike the majority of us who will sit there playing the latest and greatest game on the market for 12 hours and slowly forget about their homebrew video game, Stevan Jevtic and Vladislav Mihailovic weren’t about to let that happen.
The two founded Hit the Crow studio out in Serbia and set out to, quote, “make awesome games and not settle for anything less.” To assist them in this noble endeavor the duo turned towards the public, the average consumer lurking on Indiegogo hoping to find something that strikes their fancy. On October 12th of this year the campaign closed, having raises $299 of their $10,000 goal. The campaign to fund Sunken was sunk.
‘We realized we were not going to get funded after a week or so,’ I was told after I reached out to the team, ‘We were familiar that we should have collected the most money in the first few days. Our campaign was actually the first contact with the gaming community, only later did we realize we had to build our community first and then start our campaign.’
But Hit the Crow wasn’t quite ready to give up, continuing with ‘The plan was made, not to give up. Sure, if were funded things would be going A LOT more smoothly and a lot of additional stuff would be implemented in Sunken, but we believed we still have something valuable to show to people. Quitting was never an option and we refused to get discouraged by our failed campaign. Our solution – Steam Early Access.’ The game is now available for everyone to play for $9.99 and was released on December 3rd.
Now let’s talk about the game itself. Sunken describes itself as an action RPG with a few interesting mechanics to give it a little edge over the competition, most notably its permadeath system. You die once and you go all the way back to the beginning. It doesn’t matter if you’re fighting the final boss or the first hostile mob you encounter. You lose absolutely everything you have looted or crafted and all your levels on top of that but you do get to keep your unlocked abilities. On every level there’s a crafting room and finding this room is necessary to making sure you get the gear you need to beat that boss and advance or else it is literally back to square one.
You cannot save your progress and come back to the game after dinner, you start the game and you fight. You claw your way through wave after wave of enemy until you die and they you go back to the beginning to do it all again. It isn’t a fast paced game, there’s no ability to increase your speed. The game isn’t about speed; it’s not about getting through the levels in record times. It’s about surviving. The game doesn’t really hand you anything and that’s an aspect I enjoyed quite a bit.
But don’t worry; it’s not very hard to find the crafting room in the dungeon or anything else for that matter. The game literally herds you down hallways and rooms full of enemies that can kill you just as quickly as the boss if you aren’t careful. The dungeon setting is rather generic but Hit the Crow tells you as much on its Indiegogo page, the two simply didn’t have the funds for randomized levels and they wanted the game to have a greater reliance on immersion and atmosphere instead, and they succeeded in this I suppose, as I found myself liking the ambiance the game was generating. Although I can’t say I was fully immersed in the experience because it didn’t draw me in as much as I feel it could of and I feel like Sunken plays it safe for the most part, which is neither a good or a bad thing just an observation that I picked up on as I fought my way to the crafting room and then to the levels boss arena.
I’d like to avoid as many spoilers for the plot as possible but if the game has a weak point I feel like it’s right here. Suffice to say, it follows the same genericness as the setting. The games strengths lie in the actual gameplay. I honestly can understand why it couldn’t break 3% on Indiegogo but after having sat down and played the game for awhile I can tell you that while it doesn’t do anything revolutionary and it most likely won’t be given any awards in the future, it managed to be interesting and engaging. I certainly would recommend Sunken to those of you looking for a genuine passion project that can give you some good solid fun for a few hours here and there. I applaud Stevan and Vladislav for having come this far and I respect their determination and here’s to hoping there’s more to come.