Unexplored PC Review

In Unexplored, what heavenly goes up often comes down crashing.

By Daavpuke, Posted 01 Mar 2017

Unexplored, a game with perhaps a bland title, has some serious scope in the way of variables behind it, as the roguelike genre built on exploration and mystery would have it. Perhaps, it’s also this array of possibilities that ultimately taint the experience, as its competence reaches a finite point, after which that sense of wonder, backed by sleek and minimal visuals, fades ever further behind its promising idea. It’s a tale of concept and execution as old as time itself, where the mixture is always a bit of both and the aftertaste depends on which of the two is most present in the current playthrough.

Starting in itself solidifies the bootstraps design, as the first screen is cluttered with various buttons and the layered interface won’t improve from there. After a short tavern intro, a character can start descending a randomized dungeon. Even-colored, cubic surfaces drape the top-down view, with simple shapes representing anything from cavern walls to the triangular fish in the water. There’s an almost paper collage vibe in the dungeons of Unexplored, offset only by slight fog details, such as an interesting mist design that fills rooms with unidentified gases, some more lethal than the other. Tiny ruffles and other sound cues get accompanied with extra text notes popping up on screen, such as the cute pitter patter of otherwise deadly enemies.


There’s no shortage of hazards in Unexplored. Creatures, while many and appearing from all angles, are only part of the things that kill in the down below. Spike traps, rogue fire or even just sharp walls can hurt, while healing a limited health pool is mostly tied to a sporadic potion or a low effect ration. More so, the adventurous trope of unidentified objects also applies to flasks, so drinking just any liquid can be a bad idea. Luckily, it’s possible to throw away most items, including these potions that will break upon contact and perhaps double as a makeshift weapon. New items are sprawled around floors and combinations open up a lot of possibilities. Along with different gameplay systems, such as hidden doors, gliding, lore guides and a lot more, this makes up the great idea part of the game. Unexplored is indeed great; at least the wide array of choice is.

Controlling the game, however, doesn’t always play ball. Unexplored works in real time, on a 360 degree axis. Two weapons or items can be held, which alternate at the front part of the character. On its own, this dual design sets up combos, such as throwing a dagger, dashing in with a sword, picking up the dagger and repeating that cycle. In reality, the precision necessary, mixed with extensive cooldowns for weapons that prevent them from being always available, make it easy to be hit by threats, certainly as the rest of the character is left wide open. Other weapon types, such as slashing gear, require the shortest of ranges, almost assuring a damage trade in the process. It’s brutally difficult in Unexplored to get away without a scratch once foes start beefing up. A slight float in movement makes this already shaky system even tougher to handle. And without that self-evident motion, the viciously challenging trials within are just that much harder to deal with.

Unexplored, Review

The biggest issue from Unexplored isn’t even necessarily from difficulty spikes or more versatile and deadly foes in dungeons. Rather, there are systemic flaws in how the game throws waves of threats around. Frequently, just opening a door can mean death, since there is a giant flood of flames behind it or, worse, a pile up of creatures that immediately pounce and trap the adventurer in a corner, unable to get out. In less than a second, a situation can become unavoidable and instantly lethal, throwing away any preparation or trepidation. The only option is death, which is immediately infuriating, as roguelikes are one-shot games. Once dead, the whole thing resets from the start.

Strangely enough, Unexplored touts a “cyclical” dungeon design, but more realistically, there will only be one frontal path and a way back, later on. So, if that one and only way leads to a chamber of assured death, which it periodically does, the will to try again quickly wanes. Glitches or complete crashes enhance that feeling once more, especially if tied to the restart system that lets characters invest coins from a previous attempt into the next trial.

As a final and rather odd flaw, there are frequently rooms that lead to nowhere, locking the only way out. Luckily, there is a panic button that performs a deus ex machina, but this only cements how Unexplored is too big for its britches. There is a dedicated button to hit whenever the giant machinations behind the game break down. While this way out is an original and comical hack, it’s also not the most elegant of solutions.

What a bittersweet duality this game has, because when everything clicks, it’s so easy to get completely immersed in adventuring towards the bottom of the dungeons. As time progresses, stakes get higher, which prompts both better planning and creativity. Stealth, while also flawed offers a way to sneak attack from the shadows for much more damage. Unexplored looks the part and it has more than enough variety to last ages, but that only goes as far as the game’s technical design can pile on those opportunities without falling apart.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

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General Information



Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Ludomotion
Developer(s): Ludomotion
Genres: RPG
Themes: Roguelike
Release Date: 2017-02-22

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