Title: Curious Expedition
Publisher: Thuderful Publishing
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 02/04/2020
Price: £11.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Curious Expedition has you exploring the world to uncover mysteries, tombs and Golden Pyramids while fighting off wild animals, the environment and your sanity. Don’t let the look of this game fool you though; this is harder than it may seem. You have to play the game to understand the difference between its look and feel.
Your goal is to complete six expeditions. To complete each expedition, you need to find the Golden Pyramid in that map. Sounds simple right? However, this is where the depth of content comes in. Each map is populated with villages, shrines, tombs and traders that you can visit. Each offering the chance to secure riches and upgrades for your party.
The pixel art of this game is actually pretty nice. It certainly doesn’t do the toughness of the game any justice, but maybe that is the point. The art style gives you a false sense of safety that will quickly disappear about halfway through expedition two. Beneath the simple art design though lies a game of depth and challenges.
You start the game by selecting your explorer from a fantastic list of historical figures. The list contains people like Charles Darwin, Rasputin, Nikola Tesla & Marie Curie, to name a few. Each comes with a starting inventory as well as strengths and weaknesses that you will need to utilise and manage as you complete your expeditions. For example, you may find a character is an alcoholic, so you need to carry whisky on you or superstitious meaning that they will not like you touching ancient shrines.
Building a party that works for you is going to be key to surviving the six expeditions. You can recruit new members at the start of each expedition or through visiting villages on your journey. Each character comes with a set of dice associated with them and seeing as dice rolls are used throughout the game, having the right dice is essential. As an example, having a warrior in your party offers more red attack dice, or an adventurer will offer more blue support dice. You need to decide how you want to play the game to select the right party.
Each expedition takes place on a large procedurally-generated hexagonal grid map that you uncover as you move around it. Different environments have different impacts on you. Some will require you to drink water as you move through them while others have an impact on movement cost. Certain items will help you in particular maps such as snowshoes for your arctic expeditions. Movement costs sanity instead of the normal action points, shown at the top of the screen. When you hit zero instead of it being game over, it means your party start to go insane instead. Members may run off from disloyalty while another may turn to cannibalism, causing you all sorts of trouble. You can restore sanity by resting at villages, pools of relaxing water or from certain foods & drinks.
There is a balance to how much of the map you explore before heading towards the Golden Pyramid. Locating caves and tombs offers the chance to find rare gems or ancient relics. These come with the risk of setting off a curse such as an exploding volcano or angry wildlife, all of which are there to make your journey a bit harder. However, make it away with these items, and you can trade them in post-expedition for fame or cash. Plus, there is a bonus for being the first to return after an expedition, so perhaps you head straight for the pyramid.
After a few expeditions, you do notice that the same locations repeat themselves. The outcome of your visits to these locations will vary and how you find them will be different, but that village is always there. The combat is also still a mystery to me, and perhaps I missed a more in-depth tutorial somewhere. Dice are rolled depending on your party members. You can then combine dice to make attacks or offer defensive bonuses. However, the combination of dice was complete luck to the point I was still finding new combos after hours of gameplay.
Post successful expedition you get to select a permanent reward. These can vary from a discount when trading, better movement through an environment type or extra dice. After a reward has been picked, you then decide whether to sell or donate any additional items you have secured from your trip. Selling will give you cash to purchase extra items before your next expedition. Donating offers fame for your character and being more famous than the others in your Explorers Club is key.
This is undoubtedly a game that lives by the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ concept. There is plenty of gameplay to dive into with Curious Expedition, and it will be a challenge. The pixel art style is great, and the variation in approaches is pretty impressive. A few more locations to visit on the maps would have been nice, but there is still plenty to explore. Indeed a game I would recommend you play for yourself to understand what it has to offer.