The “Rogue” genre and procedurally generated gameplay go hand-in-hand. These two components complement one another to make unique testing experiences. However, brutal mechanics and the unknown can create an unfair and frustrating finish. Consequently, when Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy hit my desk, I didn’t know what to expect.
Developed by Ludomotion/Kittehface and published by Big Sugar Games, this is a fantasy adventure title. What’s more, it has a Dungeons and Dragons edge, a familiar plot, and a large world to explore. Additionally, its cruel action is tough and its combat is sadly underwhelming. Yet, the elements of luck, oodles of idea quests, and a strong backbone keep you hooked throughout.
Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy: One staff to control them all!
A fantasy story comprising an all-powerful artefact isn’t original. However, it matters not! Instead, I put aside the lack of originality as I absorbed the lore-rich plot. Moreover, the army of interesting characters, weird monsters, and unforgiving NPCs keeps you on your toes. Furthermore, each arena-like node is interesting and filled with mystery, danger, and treasure. As such, your journey is never dull and you’ll enjoy a varied but occasionally tough endeavour.
You control a hero who has been sent on a dangerous quest. With the Staff of Yendor in your possession, you must undertake a journey like no other. This enchanted stick must be destroyed at all costs, and you are the right person for the job. However, this isn’t a task for the faint of heart as every monster and corrupted individual wishes to stop you.
The gameplay is split across an overworld map and node-based adventures. What’s more, you are free to explore as you wish as long as you are prepared for your journey. Consequently, each adventure you undertake is a dangerous affair full of creatures, gold, and scared humans. On top of this, there are tribes to encounter, a constant shift in the political landscape, and many traders to work with. What’s more, you are free to do as you wish as you beg, steal, and borrow your way to victory.
As you take on quests or move towards your end goal, you’ll move between key locations and interact with multiple nodes. Each of these areas has secrets, monsters and treasures that are begging to be discovered. However, you must remember that death is permanent, and this is where the rogue-like mechanics kick in. You’ll need to balance exploration with supplies and rest. If you fail to bring food, or you push yourself too hard, you’ll become exhausted and this will negatively impact your progress.
As you traverse the world, you’ll encounter random events that can spoil the party. Whether it is an unexpected ambush, starvation, or an injury, it can have serious ramifications on your success. Subsequently, you must plan for these events, remain close to civilisation, and only gamble whenever it is necessary.
Every chance-based encounter follows the same approach and set of rules. Whether you are conversing with an NPC, unlocking a door, disarming a trap, or studying an unknown language, you apply the same process. Tokens are chucked into a pot, and you must select one at random. The result of this will yield a success stone or a range of other outcomes. If you are successful, you may unlock the trap, appease the NPC, or learn a new language. However, if you pick the wrong token, you can accept defeat or spend some of your resources trying again.
The crystal shards are found during every adventure and this ensures that reshuffling the tokens isn’t too much of an arduous task. Yet, like D&D, the RNG approach can be cruel and often unfair. Accordingly, if luck isn’t on your side, you can find that particular playthrough ends quickly and this can be frustrating. Luckily, though, once you understand the fundamentals, you won’t find this mechanic to be too daunting or unfair.
A secret pacifist.
Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is peppered with combat encounters and swathes of monsters. Yet, combat is ill-advised, as death is all but assured. Moreover, there is little to no advantage in killing your foes as they drop no loot. Accordingly, you are better to avoid every fight as it is more trouble than it’s worth. In fact, the developers go out of their way to highlight this point. Therefore, why waste your time if it is just a hindrance?
This approach was bizarre, to say the least. Additionally, have you ever heard of an action-adventure RPG where combat is not a go-to option? This was a first for me, and something that undermines the gameplay. Had the developers created a rounded and fulfilling combat mechanic, then the game would have been vastly improved.
This issue leaches into other elements of the gameplay as well. As such, if you try to befriend or assist NPCs, the result is normally a bunch of pissed-off locals. Alternatively, if you are successful but a wild animal attacks, you become public enemy number 1. This whole layer of the game was poorly designed and needs addressing ASAP.
Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy looks awesome.
Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy pushes the limits with its fantasy theme. As such, the surrounding world is awash with colour, unusual items, and weird creatures. What’s more, each node is interesting to look at while hiding many secrets. Alongside this, I enjoyed the simple animation and the design of the chance-based encounters. However, the cumbersome combat left a lot to be desired. Subsequently, this detracts from the finished product.
On top of the excellent visuals were some amazing songs. The atmospheric soundtrack enhances the fantasy theme while adding depth to the story. Then you must consider the strange sound effects that add a magical layer to the action. Yet, the brilliance of the audio only serves to cement my disappointment with the shortcomings. I can only imagine how good the game would have been if combat was a key component.
Clunky fighting and rigid movement.
Occasionally, fighting can’t be avoided. When this happens, you must endure some poorly thought-out controls. For reasons unknown, you cannot block attacks, and dodging is slow and arduous. As such, it was probably a good job that the developers pushed you away from this element of the gameplay. Thankfully, though, things do get better when you consider the UI and other layers. With easy-to-understand labels and a simple inventory system, you can organise your equipment for every journey.
Though I have my complaints, this still demands that you return over and over again. Thanks to the procedurally generated gameplay and the rogue-like elements, you will be pushed throughout. Moreover, the chance-based encounters add further risk and addictive gameplay.
Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy should have been great.
There is so much potential that Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy should have been great. However, its combat mechanics are unforgivable. Additionally, the gamble to befriend NPCs isn’t worth the hassle. Yet, these shortcomings shouldn’t detract from the overall enjoyment. Yes, it doesn’t excel like I wished it would, but I still had fun, nonetheless. As such, I recommend that you buy it here! Choose your path, wish for luck, and ultimately, destroy that blasted staff.