Before Nintendo’s glasses-free 3D, or the “Real-D 3D” or whatever the new movie 3D is called, we all dealt with the dreaded red and blue 3D glasses. If you somehow avoided this fad, 3D glasses of yore were flimsy, uncomfortable gimmicks, made of cardboard and cellophane. You could literally make your own, and most people disliked them because, after all the discomfort, the 3D wasn’t particularly good.
Luckily, Sunder has nothing to do with 3D. It does, however, use sets of completely red glasses and completely blue ones. The old 3D movies used red and blue versions of the same image to trick the eyes into thinking they were looking at one, 3D image. Sunder also uses two images, but for a different purpose: Making a really difficult co-op game. I sat down at the computer with a fellow attendee – a stranger – we both put on a pair of glasses, and attempted to figure out how to progress.
If you’re looking at the game before putting on glasses, you’ll see two different silhouettes: One in red, one in blue. Put the glasses on, and one of those two will disappear completely. The key is communication, since in this game, your partner cannot see anything you’re doing, or even any of your obstacles. One of the very first puzzles involves pushing a large trashcan (okay, it may have just looked like a trashcan to me, I’m not sure if that’s what it was) around the level. In order to successfully get over a large pillar in your way, one person has to push the trashcan so that the other person can use it to leap over their pillar. Then, the other person has to do the same for their partner. The trick is that, while both people can see the trashcan, neither of them can see the other person’s pillar, or even the other person. You can ping your own location, but you can’t actually be seen by your partner. So, to actually solve the puzzle, the two players have to talk, and tell one another where the trashcan is needed. And during that time, the little cardboard glasses vanish.
You’re aware of them, of course, but you don’t actually feel them as a nuisance, except at such times when you’re having trouble communicating effectively with your partner. Then you want to tear them off to see what the other person is seeing. But that would ruin the fun of Sunder. In my short time with the game, a complete stranger and I managed to get through several levels, and we even defeated a boss in tandem. With a friend, I would imagine the experience would be even stronger.
Sunder does what a lot of IndieCade games do: They make you reevaluate what you think can be done with a video game. Sunder, even just from first impressions of a demo, manages to be an interesting take on co-op gameplay, since you’re right next to your partner, but still don’t know what they’re seeing, exactly.
Sunder was built as a part of the DigiPen Institute of Technology’s “GAM 200” course, which has students build a 2D game from scratch. You can see a bit more about both DigiPen and Sunder here, as well as download the game for Windows (although you’ll still need your own pairs of special glasses to play it properly) – there’s no indication if it will work on other operating systems though.