Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is beautiful to look at and implements procedural generation in an interesting way, but is rough around the edges.
Over the last decade or so, the Roguelike genre has provided the indie development scene with a perfect structure to create replayable, challenging video games. From the likes of The Binding of Isaac through to more recent successes like Hades, it’s a gameplay style that has been received with great success from players. It’s this genre that is also being emulated by Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy, from developer Ludomotion.
Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is a self-described Roguelite, avoiding the stricter and more severe aspects of the permadeath of certain other Roguelike games while still ensuring that the stakes are in place. The first Unexplored took the form of a Roguelike that blended Zelda and Metroidvania gameplay, but Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy takes a slightly more abstract approach. It’s an impressionistic fantasy epic, where the player is tasked with destroying the Staff of Yendor in a world where adventure and exploration is a must.
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A core component of Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is its procedural generation. It’s something that other Roguelikes have done well with previously, but often in a much smaller scope than what Ludomotion is trying to achieve with its sprawling fantasy world. Each player’s game world is different, meaning that there is no one set path through the game, and attempting to do this in a game that ostensibly has a wider story is certainly a bold move.
After all, randomly generated elements have been a long-standing part of Roguelike games. However, implementing it here with something that is meant to have wider lore is something rather impressive, rather than the stricter approach taken by Roguelike games with a story like Returnal. Thankfully this experiment works well for Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy, where its looser approach to storytelling with an emphasis on exploration over lore truly helps these unexpected turns work in its favor.
In spite of its more unique elements there are some core similarities to be found with other parts of the Roguelike playbook, with permadeath being one of them. When the player dies, that’s it for that particular character – they’re gone for good. However, the player is then given the option of starting over with a new character and following on the footsteps of the previous hero, bringing to mind the successful implementation of this system in the likes of Rogue Legacy.
It’s worth noting that Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is absolutely gorgeous. The game is almost always a joy to look at thanks to its mixture of a shell shaded style and a muted color palette, which work together to help the game world truly feel like an old, overgrown environment. It’s reminiscent of Sable in its overall tone, and although some bits and pieces work better than others – some character models look a little awkward for instance – overall it’s a delightful aesthetic.
That said, Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy isn’t perfect, and one of the core challenges that players may find is with gameplay that feels a little stilted. Although the game emphasises exploration as a key selling point, there’s actually a fair amount of combat, but this is a little sluggish and weightless. At first glance it’s emulating the feel of top-down Zelda games, but its lack of fluidity does take a bit of a sheen off.
Players should also be aware of some awkward moments found thanks to things like bugs. One early example is running into a character from the game’s intro who then repeats their dialogue over again, which does take the player out of the moment a little. Minor issues like this cropped up throughout a playthrough, and although it’s nothing game-breaking it is something that breaks immersion.
Overall, Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy does what it sets out to do. It creates a genuine sense of adventure that is only intensified by its procedurally-generated structure. The game does have its issues, with combat that struggles to really make the player feel involved, but nonetheless it’s an enjoyable experience.
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Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is out now for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Screen Rant was provided with a PC download code for the purposes of this review.
3.5 out of 5 (Very Good)
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About The Author
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Rob Gordon is a writer and musician from Brighton, United Kingdom, and has extensive experience writing about video games and the video game industry. As well as this, Rob is at home with a focus on film and television, particularly when it comes to the realms of horror. Alongside his writing, Rob plays in two UK-based musical acts, the electro-pop band Palomino Club and rock band Titans & Kings, and also releases solo music under the name R. Gordon. He also lends his voice to the Big Boys Don’t Cry podcast, which reviews and discusses romantic comedies, and Pod Durst, which looks at the history of nu metal. The music and podcasts can be found on all good digital distribution platforms, and Rob can also be found on Twitter.
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