Tuesday, August 14

Review: UnExplored - Unlocked Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

At this point roguelikes and the Switch are obviously a match made in heaven, but that also means that when something comes along in the genre that doesn’t quite work it becomes all the more apparent. Such is the case with UnExplored, a title that has ambition and is obviously trying to do things in a way that’s interesting, but somewhere along the line lost its connection to being fun. Yes, the dungeons it builds have a sense of flair in the sense that their layouts and composition will vary with every run but across many runs I kept wondering when it would all click and suck me in… and it simply never happened.

Working with a twin-stick style, where your second stick helps your blows connect, the base of the controls are relatively simple and work well enough but beyond that it gets pretty ugly. This is a game that absolutely feels converted from PC when it comes to inventory management, which quickly becomes an awkward chore, requiring you to use the D-pad to navigate in some areas. It’s just a bit of a mess.

Layering on top of that there were too many things happening that weren’t well explained and resulted in me meeting my demise, but that I was unable to learn from due to a lack of context. There were times I couldn’t tell whether I’d been poisoned, cursed, hit a bug, or what… just that I ended up crippled and dying. Throw in the load times as you wait for the dungeon to be generated initially, and then periodic long pauses even as you’re in the middle of adventuring, and it all ends up being a bit of a bummer.

While I have no doubts that the right crowd could be attracted to the theoretical endless potential for variation and the unexpected, when put up against a long list of very strong roguelikes on the system it’s hard to find enthusiasm for UnExplored. It may not even be the hardest of the bunch so much as it is the most aggravatingly vague, and between the load times and the struggle with simple things like managing your inventory efficiently there was consistent time being lost that never seemed to pay off with compelling play to justify it. Only likely for the most hardcore roguelike fans who are looking for something with a different feel.

Score: 5.5

  • A unique approach to dynamically-generated dungeons
  • It has a clean look

  • Leaves too much of what’s happening inadequately explained, making it hard to learn from mistakes
  • Inventory management is awful
  • Load times become annoying and there’s not a clear payoff to their interruptions in the middle of levels specifically