Tested on: PC
Unexplored – Review
Unexplored can be classified as an indie roguelite action RPG with lots of things going on, things that’ll make you die… a lot. This dungeon crawler, created by Ludomotion, features tons of fun things like giant ogres, sneaky goblins, bats, perma-death and complex puzzles for the player to solve. Hah, sounds like fun!
The goal of Unexplored is to delve deep into the dungeon of doom to find and slay the great dragon, claim the amulet of yendor, and return with it to the surface. Whilst this is not much of a storyline, which gets told through text, it is enough because the game is not focused on telling a heart-touching story, but rather the slaying of enemies and the exploring of bountiful dungeons.
Unexplored works with a 2D top down view and has a very simplistic, a bit cartoony even, art style that might take the player by surprise, because it takes some time getting used to. Later on in the game, you start to appreciate it more and more and it grows on you. The main problem with the art style is that it is difficult to discern what enemy you’re fighting if you’re facing them for the first time, some lack discernable characteristics that identify them, so you don’t know what you’re up against. Maybe that’s just part of the difficulty of this game. Other than that the game consists of a vibrant color pallet with good particle physics, for example, when you bring a torch into a room filled with gas, the gas will ignite, makes sense. Unexplored is also reminiscent of old flash games and handles the same sort of look, it gives of a nostalgic feeling to older players.
Another issue of the game concerns the lay-out of the inventory, mini map and menu. These are located as thick, grey bars on the sides of the screen which is irritating when you first start to play, their location just feels kind of stupid to be honest, even though you get used to it. In my opinion, Ludomotion should’ve better made a menu accessible through a key binding or just a smaller HUD in general.
The soundtrack of Unexplored was composed by Matthijs Dierckx and utilizes a lot of string instruments, for example: the music that plays in the trailer of the game is very powerful and inspires to adventure yet it remains light-hearted due to the high notes coming from these string instruments. Next, there is the main menu music which is very upbeat and orchestral with, again, a lot of string instruments. Lastly, in-game sounds and music. Through many of the levels there’s just a smooth atmospheric tune playing which allows you to concentrate on combat, ideal.
The sound effects of enemies and machines, ventilators even, are well done and after a while, you will learn that some noises mean that you should run and get out of there if you want to live and see another day. What also comes in handy is that the game shows you the direction the sounds are coming from, if your character is within range, for example, when you pull a lever you will see a *creak* appear on screen together with the sound effect of a door opening. There are no spoken lines in this game which means that there is no voice acting, that doesn’t matter though, the game is fine without it.
As an indie roguelite action RPG, one expects some difficulty but holy cow, prepare to die over and over and over again, because you will get murdered by some lame bats in the beginning. Unexplored has three difficulties and 2 other selectable options that spawn more puzzles and/or more enemies, which gives you extra rewards. Believe the community when they say that you probably want to start on the easiest difficulty, that is, if you want to have a chance against those damned bats.
The game works through player experience and achievements, the more you play, the less you die, simple, right? Every achievement the player gets, unlocks new things that you can utilize in the beginning, ranging from different classes to unidentified potions. Achievements can be as simple as lock-picking a door or chest and as difficult as slaying the kobold archmage, oh yeah, this game features multiple bosses who are all out to get you.
Well now, to defeat those bosses you have to fight them, which brings us to the combat mechanics. There are various weapons you can utilize depending on your fighting style, although you start off with a simple short sword and a dagger, different classes have different starting items, rogue for example starts with two daggers as well as a stealth and speed bonus. Each weapon has its own sort of attack, swords and maces are swung while daggers are thrown, of course you can also just run into the enemy with the spiky part of your sword, that works too. Staffs are also included, even though I have yet to find a useful one, all I got were staffs that summoned bats. Darn bats.
Game-time can be paused so you can think of the best option in a given situation, so some strategy is in place. And while perma-death is a thing, the player can choose to retry the same dungeon from the start which gives them an edge and makes unlocking achievements a whole lot easier, you will still lose all your gear though.
An annoying problem that the player can encounter while playing the game is that sometimes if you’re surrounded by enemies, you will always most certainly die, because you can’t do anything except for swinging your sword in thin air and hoping it will hit something. One way out of this is using a teleportation scroll, but you would first have to identify said scroll using an identifying scroll to know for sure that it will only teleport you.
Unexplored is an overall enjoyable RPG with a certain amount of skill required to play it, and while this might be frustrating in the beginning, you will soon start to enjoy it more and more because you get better at the game, it’s one of those games that grows on you the more you play. While there are some minor issues that could be better, Unexplored still runs smoothly and has good particle physics despite its simple yet adequate style. All in all, a decently good indie game.