UNEXPLORED 2 REVIEW
Updated: Jun 5, 2022
I've wandered into a stranger's camp in the wilderness when some curious optional quest text pops up: "Sing a song." How can I resist that? Unexplored 2's textual role-play systems spring to life, and with them I guide my Wayfarer through a series of minor musical successes until they deliver what I'm told, via flavour text, is a loud rendition of a popular ditty. The applause for my impromptu performance isn't exactly deafening, but it is enough to secure me a place by the campfire for the night.
When I'm not singing, my roguelite avatar is busy lugging modifier-laden equipment around a hostile procedurally-generated land in the hopes of delivering a magical object to a forbidden place to destroy it and save the world. Yes, it's all a bit The Lord of The Rings, but Unexplored 2 is inspired by Tolkien in a way most fantasy games aren't. Rather than subject me to another round of orc wars, hot elves, and magic swords with funny names, Unexplored 2 instead focuses on my traveler's long, hard, journey, with combat being something I only resort to when I've either run out of lembas waybread and need to hunt, or when I'm forced to defend myself.
Unfortunately those bits in the books where the characters complain about being tired and hungry aren't anyone's favorite passages. The randomized events my Wayfarer discovers on the way offer brief flashes of interest, but ultimately Unexplored 2's journey is channeling the filler that happens between all the really good stuff. Unlike The Lord of the Rings I can't skim-read over the text when my character's cold/hot/wet/tired again—and thanks to frequent bugs I can't be sure my destination will work as intended when I finally arrive, either.
Unexplored 2's twist on the classic roguelike is that the journey to destroy the Staff of Yendor could take multiple lifetimes to accomplish, so its world is persistent across generations and what I do with one adventurer can pay off in a future life. Travelling from one over world map node to another usually triggers an event; some I have to navigate myself and some occur automatically as I pass through, but most seem to be about dodging a lot of falling rocks. Relentless, tediously accurate, omnipresent falling rocks.