Curious Expedition, the procedurally generated adventure game, makes it's way to the Nintendo Switch. The game incorporates retro style graphics and looks to take it's inspiration from games like Oregon Trail and the original Civilization. The game is challenging which is another nod to retro games.
The premise of the game is simple, you choose your adventurer from a wide range of people from history, such as Charles Darwin, Ameilia Earhart, Marie Curie, and Nikola Telsa, just to name a few. And each character has a different bonus associated with them that will help you through your game. For instance, Telsa has a Telsa Gun as part of his equipment (but it hurts the user) while Charles Darwin has a shotgun, which is good for hunting. Depending on how you want to play will determine which character you want to start with. This also encourages future runs as there are plenty of adventurers to try.
The goal of the game is to gain the most notoriety as you go out on your expeditions. There are six expeditions in total, and you compete against the AI's controlled historical character. The more notoriety you get, the more points you get, and a wealthy patron, the person that sends you on your quest, will create a statue in your honor, if you have the most points at the end.
You earn notoriety by exploring the map and exploring the ruins and temples in the game and returning with the treasures that you find. You may also find gems when trading with the villagers. You bring these items back home, either giving them to the museum for the fame, or selling the items for fortune. The money that you gain can be used to buy items from merchants before you leave on your next adventure.
The more notoriety you get, the more additional adventures show up before you take off on your next adventure that you can recruit for you team. So while you might want to turn in treasure you find on your expedition for money, you need to weigh what you need more, a crew or supplies. When you return from an adventure, you are also rewarded three different perks you can choose from, that will help you in your next outing.
Exploring the world is reminiscence of the original Civilization games. You are surrounded by a fog of war, and the areas only open up when you get close enough to the hexagonal spaces or travel through those spaces. There are items that will help you transverse the land, like binoculars, that will help you see further. During your adventure you may find villages, where you can rest up and trade with the locals, or temples/ruins, that you can explore and loot.
There are two main stats that you need to pay attention to while you are out, your sanity level, and your health level. The more you travel, the more your sanity bar goes down. Once it reaches zero, your characters will become tired and will need to rest quite often. You can gain some sanity back by eating things like chocolate or, for some characters, drinking whiskey. These are items that you can find from trading with the locals or items you can purchase from merchants.
As you travel through the land, you will come across enemies that will attack you, and this is where your second stat comes in to play, your health. Combat in this game is rather interesting and can be somewhat confusing if you haven't played through the tutorial. Combat is turn based, dice system, and each explorer has their own special dice that will help them in the combat. You get 3 rolls during your turn, and during your turn, you can combine some of the dice to create a special affect. For instance, if you roll and shield, you will get a +1 to your defense, however, if you combine the shield with a hand, you'll create a stable shield, and get a bonus to your defense of +3.
Before you start your adventure, heed this warning: You must play the tutorial! As simplistic as the game seems from the premise to the look and feel, you will definitely feel lost if you don't play the tutorial, it is a must. As mentioned prior, the game is pretty challenging, but the game does allow for three different difficulty levels, which is a nice way to get use to the game before you jump in full force.
Final Score: A-
Curious Expedition is a beautifully crafted game that pays homage to the retro style games of early PC gaming. It's risk and reward system is at the heart of this game and will challenge you to either press forward for more fame and treasure or decide to cut your losses and head home and cash in. The inclusion of the many different historical characters is humorous and also allows for someone to tailor their game play based on the characters that they select. While the game can be frustrating at times due to the difficulty, once you get an understanding of the game, you'll appreciate the experience.
The Tip and The Top:
A unique, dice based combat system
Combines humor with fun game play
A nod to retro style PC games
The Flip and The Flop:
Fairly challenging and a bit of a learning curve that requires you to play the tutorial
Review code provided by Thunderful Publishing