Whiskey and Chocolate packed? Good. Let’s set sail!
Following the popularity of the first instalment will be hard. Already there are people put off by the art style, while others (like me) find it gorgeous. I think it’s time we start our expedition and find out for ourselves.
Maschinen-Mensch / Thunderful Publishing / Release: January 28 / Windows, PS4, XB1, SWITCH
I will trade you 12 whiskeys, 10 chocolates, a couple of marbles, aaaaand this toad you can lick.
Natives Warned Me Of The Many Dangers... I Should’ve Listened
More and more rogue-likes are starting to adopt a richer narrative with recurring characters and lore for the world you are within. No longer are you taking off into endless runs, mindlessly causing destruction. Now you can find out what you are destroying and feel bad about it.
The story goes, that mysterious islands have begun to appear and vanish from the oceans as if by magic. Great Explorer Clubs will sponsor you, as, you set sail to find out why and steal treasure too if you so wish.
While traversing dangerous lands, you will have you meet superstitious tribes, indigenous lizard people, giant scorpions and colourful dinosaurs.
Of course, there are many more strange and wonderful surprises, but I’ll leave that for you to discover... You are a real explorer, right?
The late 1800s world you get acquainted with is an alternate earth, not much different to ours. Explorers are celebrities of the world, and the best will pledge their support to three diverse clubs. There are; The Royal Avalon Society, The Taishi Academy and Lux Labs. Each of them offering different perks, and as you increase your reputation with them, you get access to better items and companions.
Speaking of companions, you will go through many of them. It is a rogue-like after all, so expect many to die. The ones that stick it out and get more powerful, you may get attached to. They have individual personality traits and random events to flesh them out, but no one ever means more to me than the animals. Mr Jenkins, the tortoise, my treasure-finding corgi, and the beautiful feathered raptor.
Put Your Sanity To The Test!
Every excursion into the wilderness, you will face dangers and riches. Survival is your top priority. You could choose to loot every Temple you come across and kill all the wildlife, but consequences are dire. Natives will be angered, and quite rightly.
Other games may rely on status bars for thirst and hunger to get your mind in survival mode, but Curious Expedition 2 has done away with all that. Traversing the jungle, inter-party arguments and near-death experiences will mess with your sanity instead.
Several items can improve your sanity, the obvious one being food. However, the best items for your sanity are alcohol, drugs and music (hey, I didn't make the rules). Of course, it isn’t that simple. They may give the greatest boost to your sanity, but they come with dangers.
Many a time, I found myself at the edge of sanity, a bottle of whiskey on hand, only to discover I got blackout drunk and woke up somewhere else on the map.
Companions can also gain addictions that will bite you in the butt later on. Your job is to balance this and find what works best for you, and what risks are worth taking when your back is against the proverbial wall.
The gameplay loop is; gather companions, choose a sponsor, buy equipment with your budget, explore the island, return home safely. Amongst those many events, there is so much that can happen. Every choice affects your relationship with your companions, the natives and your very survival.
Several people have mentioned that the last instalment had much more content on offer. In a way, yes, the last instalment had more events, companions and a passionate modding community. The developers have said, despite being the 1.0 release there is more content coming. I expect more content and modding support, just as before.
New Pulp Adventure Art Style!
Probably one of the most controversial differences between this and its predecessor is the art style. I love it, but there seem to be mixed opinions with some outright disliking the game because of it.
If I were to pinpoint its inspiration, I would guess old Belgian comics like Tintin? These were the bedrock for many adventure stories in Europe, and also my childhood. The strong outline to detailed illustrations and bold colours fit perfectly with the idea of exploration, because of what I have associated it as.
Environments are beautiful, as well as the artwork for events during your travels.
Every detail in the art adds to the world and lore, although I wish there were some written lore for me to read too.
Who are Lux Labs? Do they really have such amazing inventions? And does Taishi Academy know the magical arts?
As for the music, I never tired of it, but it didn’t wow or impress me. Possibly, it was drawn back to give the art and story events a centre stage. However, if Indiana Jones taught me anything, a good adventure needs good accompanying music.
Rogue-likes are sold on the promise of replay value, so if you are In the business of making one, you better have a lot of it.
Thankfully, Curious Expedition 2 will have you starting new campaigns to try out different strategies and challenges. Want to be a pacifist this time? Or maybe only have animal companions? You decide.
I am very happy with the game. The gameplay loop, the beautiful art, the countless possibilities for campaigns.
Furthermore, once modding support arrives (I hope it does), the world of Curious Expeditions 2 will only get bigger. A game like this can go very far with the communities help.
I look forward to what more the developers will bring to the title, they have said the journey is not over, and I trust them.
Heres to more adventures to come!