Unexplored is a ‘rogue-lite’ dungeon crawler game with puzzles and roleplaying elements. Developed by Nephilim game Studios and published by Digerati on the Nintendo Switch. You have to descend into the depths of the Dungeon of Doom to complete a quest. Descend with me in this Unexplored Unlocked Edition review to see how it fairs on the Switch
Unexplored is a single player top-down view game which is described as accessible but challenging. Requiring you to steal the Amulet of Yendor from the fearsome dragon and make it out alive.
Unfortunately, it’s not the best example of the genre as you’ll find out in full below.
How does Unexplored play?
Unexplored uses the popular ‘Rogue’ game mechanic design to produce an ever-changing dungeon exploring experience. Like all games of this type, you delve into dungeons until you end up dead. Each time you hit a perma-death you restart and go again.
You control your hero using the thumbsticks to move and shoulder buttons to trigger weapon attacks.
Your weapons protrude outwards from your spherical body shape. You have to make sure that you line up them up with your enemies to score damage hits on them. Whilst this sounds simple in theory, it is practically quite challenging.
Movement feels at times a little clunky and your enemies seem to enjoy attacking you diagonally which means that combat requires practice. The other control mechanic that I didn’t really like was the cooldown between weapon use.
If you are facing one opponent it’s not too bad, but multiple opponents the cooldown seems unfair. Far too often I felt like I was having to run away and come back to take a swing and the repeat.
Fortunately, you can use 2 weapons which slightly alleviates the problem but you still need to re-orientate your weapons to hit each time.
Random and a Little Unfair
Onto the ‘Rogue-like’ nature of Unexplored. Each playthrough creates a random and varied level design. Using procedural level generation implies that no two games will be the same.
To progress in a ‘Rogue-like’ you have to learn from each attempt. You need to understand how the traps work, learn the moving patterns of enemies and utilise the learning experience on your next attempt.
However Unexplored doesn’t really utilise this process. For example, random and varied level designs can seem unfair. In one attempt I was killed quickly a few floors down by a really tough monster. I felt cheated as I clearly had no chance of beating it.
On a subsequent attempt, I got deeper with easier monsters. Could I learn anything? It seems that Unexplored varies the difficulty as well as the layouts.
In my experience of similar games for a ‘Rogue-like’ to be enjoyed there has to be some element of reward. I didn’t really find that I was able to utilise and learn from each of my attempts. I felt cheated and that the game was a bit unfair.
It felt like a not only a very steep learning curve but one that was stacked against me. I just didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.
Presentation and Graphics
Unexplored uses a top-down graphical style where you look down on your hero and control them as they plod about the dungeon. The graphics are pleasing and contain some nicely drawn textures.
Due to the Rogue-like nature of the game each level is different. So each level can not only contain different features but graphically vary in textures. The graphics style reminded me of games from the 90’s era.
Performance wise, Unexplored has some really long load times. When a level is generated it can take sometimes over a minute to enter the dungeon. Which really left me just waiting and wanting to get on with the game.
There are also in level pauses where additional parts of the level are being generated too further add to the frustration. Frame rates seem quite varied during gameplay. I was surprised that even in docked mode I witnessed stuttering and slowdowns where my hero was barely moving.
There was also plenty of bugs apparent too. I opened a chest and the item appeared in a wall which meant I couldn’t collect it. I also witnessed multiple software crashes too which closed the game down completely. This did leave me wondering if I was actually playing a finished build of the game or a beta version. So far I’ve seen no updates or patches for the game.
Game sounds and music really help to promote tension and atmosphere as you play. Most of the tunes are instrumental pieces and feel adaptive to your gameplay.
The game menu’s feel complicated, confusing and sometimes frustrating to navigate. Take for example picking up an item, this requires pressing A, opening the menu, moving it to your inventory and then equipping it.
Sounds easy, however, even during the tutorial I couldn’t seem to equip the sword. After a few minutes of fiddling with buttons, I worked it out. I really can’t help thinking that having an implementation of the Switch’s touchscreen would really improve the interface use.
I found that that using the pro controller and JoyCons gave a similar control experience.
Overall Unexplored feels like an unpolished experience, one that possibly implies a rushed port to the Switch or one that needs some attention to iron out the problems in the future.
The main goal of Unexplored is to descend into the Dungeon of Doom, steal the Amulet of Yendor from the fearsome dragon and make it out alive.
Each of the levels has a mix of traps and enemies to deal with. Some of the features of each level can include environmental dangers such as gas, fire, lava and deep water. Each poses additional threats to your hero.
Enemy abilities and the difficulty settings seem to be very varied and I came across over-powered enemies quite early which I found frustrating.
According to the developers, there are 7 different character classes to unlock and master although I personally didn’t get all of them.
In addition to the standard story mode of the game. Unexplored includes 3 additional DLC which are ‘Mithril Run’ where you have to just collect treasure.
‘Ripley Run’ where you have to kill as many creeps as possible and finally ‘The Dark Ritual’ where you have to prevent the summoning of the great old one. Each of these DLC’s add more variation in gameplay modes/objectives to the original game.
Getting the Unlocked DLC is a good thing.
Should You Play Unexplored Unlocked Edition?
Unexplored takes the ‘Rogue’ genre and just about utilises it, the game has a dynamic level generation. One that doesn’t really do it any justice as at times the game feels unfair to the player.
The experience feels unfinished, poorly implemented with a truckload of bugs. I really wanted to enjoy Unexplored as at its core it’s not a bad game. It just needs a bit of TLC to get it playable.
Gamers who will suit this game…
Fans of ‘Rogue-lite’ might want to dabble in this title. It is fundamentally just almost a title that has elements of ‘Rogue’ gameplay. However, there are so many other better rounded ‘Rogue-likes’ already out on the Switch.
Ultimately you may choose to look elsewhere to spend your money.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Rogue-lite with RPG elements||Poorly implemented controls||Frame Rate problems|
|includes additional DLC||Overcomplicated GUI’s||Full game crashes|
|Long loading times||Detections errors|
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