July 3, 2022

Unexplored: Unlocked Edition – Nintendo Switch Review

Unexplored is a rogue-lite from indie studio Digerati, in association with Ludomotion and Nephilim Game Studios. With its almost paper-like art style Unexplored is visually striking and unique. But with the shear amount of rogue-lites and dungeon crawlers dropping each week on the Switch will Unexplored stand out from the rest?

Unexplored is a charming rogue-lite, dungeon crawler boasting new ‘cyclic dungeon generation’ technology. Rather than me try and explain just what this witchcraft is, I will let lead developer Joris Dormans break it down for you.

So in Unexplored you are tasked with crawling your way through the many levels of The Dungeon Of Doom to ultimately defeat an insidious dragon and retrieve a fabled amulet. While there is only a smidgen of story in the game it sometimes turns out the journey you go on becomes the real story itself.

Okay so as I said before Unexplored has a unusual paper-like art style. The procedurally generated levels are animated really well and are unique in their design, the enemies are simple and look like little paper cut-outs. The whole thing looks like a primary school collage if I’m honest.

There is also a fair amount of enemy variations, each different enough from the last. The sound design is surprisingly epic, giving the game a sense of intrigue and a real medieval feel.

So you start out by creating your protagonist. I honestly didn’t see the point in this as you just chose from a few shapes and colours, it failed to add anything to the experience. You essentially play as a shape with a sword and dagger.

The controls are your standard twin stick style as you would expect due to the style of game but your both your weapons point in different axis. Having to line up your sword to hit an enemy and then having to back up and line up again ready to throw your dagger became a bit of a ball-ache after a while.

You can pick up shields, axes and other weapons during the dozens of runs that it will take you to finally complete your quest. Now here’s the thing with Unexplored; you can make important tweaks to the gameplay. The ability to replay your last seeded dungeon, alter the difficulty and increase the frequency of bosses make really nice additions to the game. Being able to change and amend the fundamentals of the game depending on your need for gratification or challenge is a mechanic more games of this genre should adopt.

Unexplored has some great features with its RPG style inventory system allowing you to manage your starting loadout, the ability to change game settings that really impact the game and its great art-style.

That said Unexplored has some dramatic failings. Combat is over-fiddly and frustrating, movement feels overly floaty making quick maneuvers a long lost memory. The worst thing I felt playing this game was there’s no real sense of progression. It doesn’t give you enough reward for you to try another run after failing a few times on long runs. I also never felt that the ‘cyclic dungeon generation’ was any different to any other procedurally generated games system.

Unexplored is good for a few hours of playtime and you will enjoy what you play for those few hours but after 5 or so hours I started to lose all motivation to keep playing. The more you play the more you die due to the poor combat and movement which sucks the fun out of what has the potential to be a really promising game. Using the rule of £’s per hour game-play I would expect more than five or six hours enjoyable playtime from a game that costs the best part of fifteen quid.

Unexplored has the ambition to be a great game but is let down by some ropy mechanics and the lack of real sense of progression. It looks great and I really wanted to enjoy this game more than I did but it does leave a good foundation for what is next to come from the developers.

Do you agree with our review? Let us know in the comments and as always for all things gaming stay tuned to ABG.


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  • 5/10
    Overall - 5.0/10
5/10

Summary

Unexplored has some great ideas and has some well executed mechanics but is let down buy the mechanics that matter. It’s fun for a few hours but unfortunately it doesn’t stand out among the dozens of other games of this genre currently available on the Nintendo Switch.

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