Dungeon crawling has been popular for an age, and the formula hasn’t really changed all that much over the years. The constants remain the same: there’s a big dungeon to explore, it’s full of loot and you’re the plucky adventurer to finally crack it wide open. Of course, there’s always that one obstacle of actually getting the loot. Especially if death resets your progress and there’s no save points to use within this labyrinth of regret. UnExplored is a top-down roguelike dungeon crawler, with an emphasis on careful item management and daring exploration.
Before getting into the thick of it however, you’re going to have to create your cycloptic adventurer. Thankfully it’s nowhere as detailed as other RPG systems where you can create abominations, or beautiful creatures in a matter of mere hours. After changing the colour of your cape, your name and probably your hair, an old man talks to you. He asks if you intent to delve into the Dungeon of Doom (no relation to Dungeons of DOOM), to retrieve the ancient amulet of Yendor. He then suggests you buy him a beer, because he’s very well versed in dungeon spelunking. Whether you do or not is your choice, but buying him as least one will net you an item to use. With that over, you’re free to enter the dungeon.
Since all the floors are randomly generated, you’re bound to get a different experience each time. Depending on what options were selected before the dungeon was created (such as the difficulty, extra bosses etc), you’ll either be flying through the first few floors or hating life itself. The objective is to descend through each floor of the dungeon by finding the stairs downwards. This means checking every nook, cranny and suspicious corner for a set of steps going elsewhere.
Naturally you’re not alone down here. Hundreds of monsters lurk in the shadows. Thankfully for the first few floors, everything is very manageable assuming that you don’t walk into a large mob of spiders. Combat revolves around jabbing your weapon into the enemy, but since there’s no slashing animation, your adventurer simply lunges forward with whatever they’ve got in their hand. Prodding an enemy with your sword will make it unusable for a couple of seconds, forcing you to either retreat, or use a secondary weapon in your off-hand. There’s a variety of weapon combos that work like a dream, but the initial sword & dagger combination is pretty reliable in a tight situation. As you get deeper and deeper into the dungeon, magic becomes more prevalent, and enemies become more aggressive. To combat this (no pun intended), you’ll needed to find items to level your stats. They’re all what you’d come to expect from any RPG game, with strength, dexterity, vision, and a fair few more. Finding potions that raise these stats and weapons that do the same, is absolutely vital as you delve deeper.
Loot is everywhere in UnExplored. It’s mostly in sealed chests and behind locked doors, but it can be taken from basically anywhere. Most of these treasure chests will be unlocked, allowing free access to what’s inside. However, some of them require a key. These chests are packed with bigger, better loot, that allows for more haulage. But loot must be balanced by supply items in your inventory; carry too much of one without the other and you risk going into a dangerous situation without healing. The loot is closely tied to the myriad of puzzles littering the dungeon. Complete one and you’ll likely be rewarded with loot. They’re everyone to boot, from traps to tripwires, nothing is off-limits in here. These traps also have practical application too. If you don’t disarm one, or trigger one near an enemy, they can be used in combat against them.
For all the things that make UnExplored a very fun indie dungeon-crawler, it’s far from perfection. Being in early access means that the game regularly has numerous, minor, issues that stop the player from really enjoying themselves. The framerate is unreliabley choppy, with assets that often jump around the room as you explore them. Unfortunately that’s not all, because of the randomised nature of the dungeons created, it can mean that certain doors can’t be opened until you’ve been to lower floors. While there’s nothing wrong with randomised areas, they do feel strangely repetitive after a few times playing. You become familiar with the things that can happen the area, and aren’t surprised when you see whatever you see.
Everything considered, UnExplored is actually a very enthralling RPG, which builds upon itself with every floor passed. Even though it’s still in early access, and isn’t technically finished, you can still enjoy it for the cutesy, dungeon-crawler that it is.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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