I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – roguelikes and roguelites make up some of the best games on the market. Often created by small teams with limited resources, these games rely on a satisfying loop of gameplay that gives them immense replayability.

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy takes roguelike gameplay principles and combines them with procedural generation to deliver a unique experience through each run. In it, you play as the Wayfarer and your goal is to destroy the Staff of Yendor. Beyond that, the game does not give a large amount of direction when it comes to accomplishing your goal.

unexplored 2 review 1

Unexplored 2 begins with a basic tutorial that covers the different systems within the game, and I’ll delve into those later. Once complete, the game begins in earnest. It starts with you creating a character, there are a few races and backgrounds to choose from. As well as skills that will influence your play style throughout the game.

It starts off scripted, with you being given the staff you must destroy right before coming under attack. Upon escaping, you are brought to a map where you can see the world and begin your journey. And this is where the issues begin.

My first time playing Unexplored 2 saw me spend a solid ten minutes looking at the map and trying to figure out what to do. As I scrolled around the map, I became more and more confused, thinking I was crazy when I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. Eventually, I closed the game and decided to boot up a new save.

I went through the character creator, replayed the brief opening sequence, and made it back to the map. This time, nodes appeared showing my location and other visitable locations. It turns out the game failed to load these for my first run.

My hope was that this was a one time occurrence, a glitch in the system. But it turned out to be an omen of more to come. Unexplored 2 is filled with optimization issues and glitches. The most glaringly obvious of them, the slow, stuttering, loading screens. Every area and encounter needs to be loaded in, and each loading screen seems to stay up longer than the last.

Perhaps we’ve been spoiled as gamers, with the Xbox Series X boasting lightning fast load times; waiting to play a game has become a thing of the past. However, Unexplored 2 seems to completely neglect the technical feats of this console generation by holding each loading screen longer than it should.

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This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if there weren’t so many. Every trip between a node on the map has the potential to be interrupted by hazards, encounters, and so on. This means traveling between two spots can result in two or three encounters where you load into a small environment and need to pass a challenge.

It becomes tedious to play through each one while trying to get to the actual location you are trying to reach. Especially when considering that many of them are combat or speech encounters, most of which play out in almost identical fashion.

Starting with the combat, it is incredibly basic. There is no dodge mechanic, the magic system is completely dependent on the environment, and fighting is reduced to swinging, blocking, and awkwardly dodging.

There is also no real reason to fight in these mini encounters because enemies don’t drop items. The game even goes out of its way to tell you that combat is typically pointless due to the lack of experience or drops. This is upsetting because a flushed out combat system would’ve gone a long way in making Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy a very enjoyable game.

The speech system, which is actually the same system they use for any challenge, relies on luck and your character’s skills. When interacting with any challenge, you are given a pool of tokens that are randomly drawn. Each of these will either influence your odds for success or failure, or result in a successful, neutral, or negative outcome. These tokens are randomly drawn, and you have two options when a token is drawn. Either select the drawn token, or draw a new one using your skills.

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There are a couple more considerations in the system, but that’s the general principle. It’s a unique way to handle challenges, but the issue is that it quickly becomes redundant. There isn’t a specific tactic that is able to make it better or worse. It’s essentially all RNG.

Even worse was that even after I was successful in speech encounters, oftentimes the NPCs would still attack. Again, combat isn’t beneficial or satisfying, and death is permanent, so you’ll rarely want to interact with NPCs. I could never trust that a success during these challenges actually meant success. NPCs would also become hostile towards me, when another NPC attacked them. So if adventurer’s that were friendly with me got attacked by a wolf, then the adventurer’s would turn on me as well.

Beyond these issues, there are a variety of issues, with clipping and map layouts, which make playing through many of the areas clunky. You can walk around edges on maps that should be off limits and clip through solid items like rocks.

It’s a shame too because overall Unexplored 2 has many great systems, such as how after dying the factions will claim new territories. Or the camping and travel systems which require you to plan ahead and be stocked on essential supplies. Honestly, I love any system which allows you to set up virtual camp anywhere, no matter how basic.

The environments and music direction are phenomenal too. The cell shaded art style, combined with the fantastical musical score, makes journeying feel mystical. The different locations and environments feel unique and for the most part, in Unexplored 2 you will want to explore more.

unexplored 2 review 4

But the lack of fulfilling gameplay systems and the fact that you can never trust that the game is loading everything in will put a damper on your experience. When playing through a game that requires the investment of hours of time, you don’t want it to be ruined by a random glitch.

I’ve been holding out for an update to Unexplored 2, hoping for improvements to the stability and performance. But it has never come. As it is, there are a lot of unique and cool mechanics in Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy, but the performance and the gameplay need some major tweaking for it to become truly engaging.

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is on the Xbox Store

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - roguelikes and roguelites make up some of the best games on the market. Often created by small teams with limited resources, these games rely on a satisfying loop of gameplay that gives them immense replayability. Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer's Legacy takes roguelike gameplay principles and combines them with procedural generation to deliver a unique experience through each run. In it, you play as the Wayfarer and your goal is to destroy the Staff of Yendor. Beyond that, the game does not give a large amount of direction when it comes…

Pros:

  • Beautiful musical score and cell shaded art style
  • Well-built systems for traveling and camping

Cons:

  • Performance and loading issues frequent
  • Some game breaking bugs that make progression impossible
  • Lack of satisfying combat system or skill based encounters

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - BigSugarGames
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 3 June 2022
  • Launch price from - £19.99
TXH Score

3.5/5

Pros:

  • Beautiful musical score and cell shaded art style
  • Well-built systems for traveling and camping

Cons:

  • Performance and loading issues frequent
  • Some game breaking bugs that make progression impossible
  • Lack of satisfying combat system or skill based encounters

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - BigSugarGames
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 3 June 2022
  • Launch price from - £19.99

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Swan
Swan
2 months ago

Did you experience issues with an inability to regain Hope points in any way other through deeds, and one time at a Mercy Shrine? I’ve been playing this game tons, the current character is nearing day 1000, and nothing in the game works with regards to regaining lost Hope points. Not eating the hope restoring herbs, as instructed, while camping, with a fire, with other foods, nothing. It has never even allowed me to even prepare them. They sit inaccessible and unusable until they expire. Makes trying to complete the game, seem inaccessible with too much Hope loss. Though I haven’t given up.