I feel like I’m going to anger a lot of people with this next statement: I didn’t enjoy UnExplored: Unlocked Edition. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good rogue-lite, dungeon crawler. But, something about UnExplored: Unlocked Edition just didn’t play right with me. Let me start by explaining what I did like about UnExplored, as contrary to the above, there were bits that I thought were done brilliantly.
Firstly, I do quite like the simplistic, 2D art style that Ludomotion have used. In my experience of playing rogue-lite games, developers have always tried to emulate the games of old; using graphics more reminiscent of older decades, to try and cash in on some extra nostalgia. UnExplored throws that away and tries to create its own thing by using a combination of contrasting colour palettes and more simple designs. Usually, I’d be slating a game for using such simplistic designs, but in UnExplored it’s definitely presented in a more visually interesting and unique way – which is refreshing after playing so many other games that follow the same design style.
I’ll also give UnExplored credit for how much it experiments with its gameplay. While most rogue-lite games just see you travelling through dungeons, aiming to get from A to B in the quickest time, collecting as much loot as possible. UnExplored dungeons are all with the goal of obtaining an ancient amulet, and all the dungeons, floors and rooms are part of the puzzle. The solution to one particular trap may be two floors down and in a completely different area of the map, which encourages more outside-the-box thinking and exploration.
Sadly, and this links into my last point, UnExplored barely explains anything to the player. There’s a short tutorial which teaches you the very basics: the simple combat, the poor stealth and how to use items/keys. The tutorial barely scratches the surface of what UnExplored has to offer – for example, throughout my time playing, I picked up lockpicks, but was never shown how to pick locks. Or, I discovered stoves and anvils during my travels, but was never shown how to actually use these services. While I’m not expecting UnExplored to hold my hand throughout the whole game, it would be nice if the tutorial was a little more extensive.
The best comparison I can make regarding this is to Spelunky. Spelunky similarly has things that you encounter throughout, such as shrines, which while not explicitly explained to you are hinted at throughout. Accidentally running over an altar while holding the damsel gives you the option to sacrifice them etc. In UnExplored, I didn’t encounter anything like this, and so didn’t utilise these features (I am fully aware, that this is as much on me not understanding mechanics, as it is on the game and so this should be taken with a pinch of salt)
The lack of clear direction in this game had me stumbling around for a good while. I’d walk into a room, kill all of the giant ants and then walk around until I found the next room of enemies. Which was challenging, but without any idea of how to solve these puzzles or get around certain traps, it became monotonous after a while.
I am excited to see what more Ludomotion has to offer. UnExplored does try to be outside the box and innovative with its design, but in doing so becomes a poorly explained and directionless experience. It’s so close to being a fun experience, and I guess this could come down to personal preference and actually spending more time with the game – but for me, I’ve had enough of UnExplored for now.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*