Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 02/04/20 (Nintendo Switch)
Price: £13.49 (Nintendo Switch)
A code was provided for review purposes
Explore the World for Fame and Glory!
It’s the 19th Century in this roguelike expedition simulation game where you will need your wits about you and a strategy to survive perilous expeditions. In Curious Expedition take control of one of history’s most famous characters on a grand quest to the unexplored far reaches of the world.
Race around the world against your fellow explorers in a cut-throat competition to gain fame and fortune, all of course in the name of science. Will you strive to raise your reputation by donating your discoveries to the museum or will greed motivate you to sell those discoveries for a fortune?
Take a Chance and Roll the Dice
Before you play Curious Expedition take heed adventurers and learn from my mistakes! I let the call of adventure overtake my need for planning and instantly regretted it. Play the tutorial before you dive into your first expedition, because once you are thrown into the game very little will be explained otherwise. Select your historic hero and off you set on 6 expeditions joining the race for glory to build up your reputation or funds! Each character has their own benefits or hindrances so choose wisely. Charles Darwin has the perk Butterfly Enthusiast where you gain sanity for each butterfly collected. Great for areas where butterflies can be found but not so much if you explore a frozen tundra.
The aim is to explore each map and find shrines, locals to trade with and the ultimate goal, the Golden Pyramid, to end the level. After the first mission you can also recruit a crew including a pack animal if you choose, but you may only have up to 5 including yourself. Certain actions and choices during the game will also affect your crew’s loyalty and your standing with the locals.
I found myself being painfully aware yet morbidly curious of the sanity bar displayed at the top of the screen which drains as you explore. The tougher the terrain the faster it drains. Ignoring this has serious implications such as losing the loyalty of the team who can potentially resort to cannibalism or abandon you. This adds a great sense of urgency as only consuming certain items and resting will refill this. It’s a great and unique touch to the game in place of a health bar.
Curious Expedition also utilises an intriguing turn-based battle system, triggered when you encounter an enemy. This is the main reason I warn you to play the tutorial first as the random dice rolls, which dictate combat actions, can be confusing if you haven’t taken the tutorial. Even after the tutorial most combos are left for you to figure out as the tutorial doesn’t go into much detail about the battle mechanics. Initially the battle system can be very frustrating and there is an element of luck involved.
A Pixel 2-D Adventure Awaits the Brave
Visually Curious Expedition has a nostalgia hit for seasoned gamers as it definitely has a taste of text-based classics like Monkey Island and indeed the in-game humour feels very much in a similar vein. One big aesthetic that adds to the game’s quirky nature is that as soon as you jump into your first expedition the map feels very reminiscent of the board game “Catan”. The game art is charming and the design simplicity helps the humour of the writing really come across. The soundtrack is also fun and really compliments the retro feel of Curious Expedition – it’s simple but really effective with an atmospheric feel similar to that of games like Stardew Valley.
Curious Expedition is a short game; after 6 expeditions you have essentially finished the initial game story. How quickly you complete this depends on your choices and how carefully you plan each expedition, you are looking at about 2 to 3 hours per playthrough with each expedition lasting anywhere up to 30 minutes each. Expedition maps are randomly generated and you are able to unlock more characters and options as you play so there is some replay value for gamers who are completionists.
Is the Fame Really Worth the Sacrifice?
Curious Expedition definitely is quite a niche game in terms of the theme and use of historic characters. The scenarios are humorous and very well written. Visually the game will appeal to fans of retro pixelated games and the soundtrack is a wonderful compliment to the visuals.
I personally enjoyed the addition of the sanity bar as it was a pretty interesting twist that made expeditions challenging, I found myself thinking and learning from previous expedition failures. For the most part it’s quite an enjoyable game to play except for the battle system which although very interesting, it is quite frustrating. Even after playing the tutorial successfully, winning a battle took a lot of trial and error along with an element of luck too. Annoyingly many in game deaths were caused by this battle system which in turn meant I actively tried to avoid conflicts! The niche themes could lose their novelty over time, although for me the only real downfall really is just the battle system which could deter some players.
This game definitely will not appeal to everyone. Anyone who doesn’t like a lot of reading in their games probably won’t enjoy this very much as this is the core element. Due to the content I wouldn’t say that it’s accessible to children even with the PEGI 7 age rating just because of how niche the humour and the theme is. Overall a pretty solid game as a debut from indie developer Maschinen-Mensch but there is definitely room for improvement.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Curious Expedition from the following link; Nintendo eShop