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Unexplored (Early Access)
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This is Unexplored. It's a brand new dungeon crawler from the company that brought you Bezircle and Sumico: The Numbers Game. It mixes old school Zelda goodness with a physics-based roguelike, and it just hit Steam Early Access today. Let's crib this.


What the hell is Bezircle? It's one of a myriad of games previously made by Ludomotion, a Dutch developer that is best known for making Flash and iOS games. In fact, Unexplored started out as a sequel to Dungeon Run, one of the company's earliest games. But what began as a simple follow-up has turned into something bigger and more ambitious than any of Ludomotion's previous titles.

This is a fairly straight-forward action game where you run through a procedurally-generated world killing enemies and picking up loot. You play a yellow circle that looks like it was pulled straight out of a LocoRoco game. After customizing the character, we set off on a simple adventure to fight through a bunch of random dungeons in hopes of finding the Amulet of Yendor.

Haven't I seen a lot of that before? Sure, it's true that we've traveled down this road one or two (or a thousand) times before, but it's hard to deny the appeal of the dungeon crawler roguelike. The big gimmick here is that it uses what the developers are calling "brand new dungeon generator tech," suggesting that it's the "first of its kind," "the next step in roguelikes" and other buzzy phrases. I'm not sure if it's really the "next step in roguelikes," but the randomly-created stages didn't fall into the same traps as many other games in the genre.

If you had told me that each stage was designed by one of the programmers, I probably would have believed it. Not that the stage designs are particularly clever, but they also don't feel like they were slapped together at random. That said, this Early Access version started to feel a bit same-y after a while. I saw a lot of the same tiles, weapons, enemies and items with every play. I'm sure we'll see more content added as the game nears its proper release.

Hmm. You don't see that into it. No, it's not that. I mean, the game is fun and most of the pieces are there, but it's missing something. The description promises puzzles and challenging dragons, and while I found the challenging dragons, it felt like the puzzles never showed up. There's a whole bunch of running around and looking for keys, which is something I've done a lot of recently. There just isn't much here that I haven't seen in countless other dungeon crawlers, and I'm not sure if that's just this build or if the full release will bring a the originality.

Having said that, Unexplored is an easy game to get into. It has an appealing look and I like the 360 degree combat. I typically prefer to play these types of action games with a controller, but still had a fun time with the basic keyboard and mouse setup. And I can't believe I've gone this long without mentioning the dual-wielding combat, or even the large inventory. There's definitely promise here.

Conclusion: The description of Unexplored says that you'll enjoy "hundreds of hours of pure fun." I'm not sure this Early Access build offers that much pure fun, but I can see fans of the genre getting a kick out of Ludomotion's upcoming game. It's currently $9.99 on Steam, with the threat that the price will increase in a few months. Although a lot of the content is missing, there's still enough game here to warrant the $10 asking price. Just don't expect a bunch of puzzles.
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