In the Game: ‘Unexplored’ Brings the Dungeon-crawling Experience to the Switch

Welcome to another Indie game review for the Nintendo Switch! Or, as I think I should start calling it: “Who Even Knew That Was A Thing? The Gaming Edition!”

This week I went deep down into the cavernous dungeons of Unexplored by Nephilim Game Studios. It’s a rouge-like, procedural generation, dungeon crawler that features perma-death. Gold star if you understand any of that, as I had to look it up.

A “procedural generation dungeon crawler” means that this is a top down (overhead) game where you explore a dungeon that grows, changes and develops as you explore it. Along the way you encounter locked doors, treasure chests, and an assortment of enemies as you make your way deeper and deeper in search of adventure, gold, weapons, and gear to fill your giant inventory bar.

“Rouge-like” refers to this genre of game that has its origins in table top gaming and good old D&D (Dungeons and Dragons for the cool kids out there). There are plenty of familiar elements in here if you have ever tossed a D20 around, like character customization, stats tracking and, naturally, dungeons.

“Perma-death” I touched on before in my review of Paranautical Activity (spoiler: I didn’t care for it) and means that, in this game, once you die it’s back to square one with no continues or save points. So in other words, fail and die. For good.

So what did I like about this game? Well, it’s cute for one. You character is a weird giant eyeball thing with a cape that you can tweak with freckles, eyebrow placement, cape colour, and different pitches for his voice. You can even give him a name. Which, in my case was Wibbly – it just fit.  The bad guys, dialogue, and imagery are all similarly cute and simple, but very smooth and fluid. Wibbly scoots along making sharp turns using both thumb sticks to steer and maneuver while executing a different attack on each of the bumper buttons. The combat takes a few swings to figure out, but once you get the hang of it its pretty fun.

The experience of the dungeons growing as you go is also neat, with fresh corners and new doors popping up in an ever expanding world.

Along with the main game, which perma-deathed me enough times to walk away pretty quickly, there are three bonus games which I actually enjoyed more as they had a simpler focus to play through.

The huge inventory options let all the hoarders out there really live their best life as you stack items, weapons, gear, potions, books, torches, and every other staple of a solid D&D campaign into your easy to access and navigate menu bar.

To talk about the things I didn’t like, I am really acknowledging that I don’t enjoy this genre of game and wouldn’t want to try another one in the same style.

I am all for open-world type exploration and non-linear gaming, but since this is sort-of that but also not, I found myself wanting to know where I was supposed to go and why. There is no central story, no quests or skill trees, just a continual search for the next stairway to take you deeper into the dungeon.

I also found the graphics, while cute as mentioned before, a little too simple. Look, I still think my Xbox 360 looks pretty good, so I’m not a graphics snob of any sort, but its weird playing a game that looks like this in 2018.

Overall, there is something to like here in Unexplored. You could easily lose yourself for hours at a time in this game exploring and gathering, but the elements of perma-death and lack of a storyline made it a tough sell for me.

Til next time, bleeps and bloops, ya’ll.

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