Unexplored Unlocked Edition (Switch) Review – Unexplored Game
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Release: 9th August 2018
Oh, the sheer mass of randomly generated indie roguelikes flooding the market since years is still something to behold. Even the Switch wasn´t safe, getting some great titles such as Enter the Gungeon. However, even other developers set their eye on the console for their pimped up roguelikes and so we get Unexplored Unlocked Edition, containing the base game, the three DLCs and the promise of having a unique, great level generation.
What may first strike you is the quite extensive customization and equipment possibilities presented to you for each run. Depending on your previous ones, you can actually bring quite different stuff with you, from the standard dagger to more deadlier weapons. Yet, after hopelessly manoeuvring through the actually mediocre looking menus, it´s finally time to head into the dungeon.
Here´s where the biggest magic of Unexplored Unlocked Edition happens: The levels. While especially tinier productions tend to either have mediocre generation, where many rooms just lead nowhere, have some totally broken difficulty curve or generally not offering fun to play dungeons, this one is pretty damn good. For one, every layer is set-up in a nearly perfect circle, practically forcing the game to connect every room to another one, in order to maintain the fluid form, as well as, giving some great hub rooms, where you can easily reach every corner. The fluidity is also the biggest reason for the great pacing of the whole thing, sometimes seeming like someone actually designed those levels per hand and not a machine, though sometimes they tend to chain giant, same-looking rooms together as well. It´s still repetitive from time to time but far less than many other games that weren´t named Gungeon.
Unfortunately, a lot about the remaining mechanics are far from the fluidity of the procedural dungeon generation. Namely the combat system, which can quickly become its greatest foe at times. It´s possible to equip up to two weapons, one primary and one secondary. The big difference here is through, that they´re arranged in a queue-like structure, where melee attacks are done by the first, while the second one is mostly throwable for quick distance interruptions.
The problem with this system is the clunkiness introduced by the cooldowns. Instead of being able to attack everytime you press the button, every slash has a cooldown until the next one can be done, indicated by a greyed out weapon. As a result, the combat may become somewhat more tactical but also way slower and especially the unreactive button. For me, whom already hates animation priority, this system quickly became way too unresponsive for my taste. Even though I liked the possibilities and the forced reliance on the secondary one as a result, the main slashing never really felt up to par with other titles.
Additionally, the game isn´t too rich in diversity either when it comes to truly unique enemies, dungeons or designs. The cyclic level generation may be great but can´t carry a seemingly stockpile of foes and rooms with only slight unique twists to the whole thing. In general, Unexplored Unlocked Edition is certainly a giant game for its price but can´t really fill its time with too much memorable stuff.
When it comes to presentation, the minimalistic art style isn´t anything to impress people either. At first glance, it even turned me off quite a bit but over the time (I first saw this game when it released on Steam) I came to like it. Maybe because it symbolizes the word “indie” so well or simply because the environments can look pretty stunning later on. It´s by far not a Hyper Light Drifter but still not completely forgettable, except its sometimes even terrible soundtrack.
Unexplored Unlocked Edition isn´t made to rival Enter the Gungeon or other amazing roguelikes. It has its fair share of problems and generic designs too. However, despite all that, at its very core, it´s a damn fine roguelike with quite possibly the best level generation I´ve seen in many titles. For the price, it´s possibly the best alternative for a good roguelike on the Switch if you´re finished with Dead Cells or Gungeon and want more.
[A Review Code was provided by Digerati]