Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer's Legacy

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy is an odd little RPG that packs a lot of really interesting details into its world and gameplay systems. The sound design is incredible, for example, and the game has a “Fortune Test” system that essentially lets you draw tokens that determine whether or not you succeed at an action. But it’s the barter system that might be its single most innovative feature.

Unexplored 2 is a game without money. So when you encounter merchants who have items you want, you’re going to have to find something to trade. The way this works is that you pick the item you want to purchase, which goes onto a scale. You then try to pile up items from your own inventory onto the other side of the scale until it tips in your favor; when you’ve placed enough items on the scale, you can make the trade. If you don’t have enough items to tip the scale, you’re out of luck.

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer's Legacy

This changes so much about how you approach the game. In something like, say, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you would loot a bunch of stuff from tombs and enemies, then sell those at a vendor for money. You would then use this money at any other vendor in the world. And since money doesn’t take up any weight in the “encumbrance” system (where your character gets weighed down if you try to carry more than your allowed inventory weight), it makes sense to convert your items to cash whenever possible.

But in Unexplored 2, you don’t have that option. You have to be clever about what you take from dungeons and enemies, because this game also has an encumbrance system that prevents you from hoarding loot. So you’ll want to take items that are either useful to you, or that you know you can get a lot of trade value from. But doing that is going to require some experimentation, as there’s no visible value for your items; you’ll just have to mess around until you figure out which items are valuable and which ones aren’t.

If you like to hoard cash in video games (like I do), this system is going to completely break your brain. This goes against everything inside me. But as frustrating as it can be, I have to admit that I also see the brilliance in it. Not only does it streamline trade (there are games that get absolutely wild with their multiple currencies), but it also forces you to think about every item you loot rather than just mindlessly stuffing trinkets into your inventory. And, as much as I love mindlessly stuffing trinkets into my inventory, Unexplored 2 just isn’t that type of game. It’s a game where choice matters, where the decisions you make have consequences. And this barter system merges with that design philosophy pretty much seamlessly.

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer's Legacy

So, even though Unexplored 2‘s barter system isn’t for everyone — heck, it’s not even for me — I have to give it credit for being an incredibly well thought-out system, one that engages your brain in various ways, forcing you to make tough choices throughout your journey. I can respect that.

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer’s Legacy on PS4, which I played on PS5, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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