If you’ve been craving adventure, there’s few ways to satisfy that urge right now that are better than playing a game like Curious Expedition 2. As I’m sure you’re all too familiar with, our world is not currently one for exploring, but even if we could venture forth, I highly doubt you’d find anything as interesting as the world this Maschinen-Mensch title delivers.
Curious Expedition 2 opens with you travelling the seas, seeking out treasure and knowledge in equal measure. In the distance you spot an island that’ll provide sanctuary from a fearsome storm. During your expedition, and not soon after you dock, you stumble across some natives who take you back to their settlement; this is a great chance to build up a good relationship with them so be mindful of your choices. Once you eventually leave their camp, joined by one of the tribe members, you’re better able to traverse the unknown landscape.
As a sequel, this game builds on the work of the original, keeping the same roguelike structure and telling a story as you explore. The most immediate change comes with the game’s visuals, the world having much more detail and the narrative moments having a hand-drawn picture book style that really enhances the experience. It manages to do this without having too much visual noise, and without striking this balance, this title would lose a lot of its charm.
Having not played the original game, I was worried I’d be at a loss about what to do, the type of gameplay to expect, and so on. However, I found myself familiarised with the controls in no time at all. That said, it’s worth pointing out that there is a lot of information to take in when you first load the game, so I seriously advise you play the tutorial and listen to the advice given along the way. Without it, I’m pretty sure you’ll run aground before too long.
Despite having a guide to your expedition, of sorts, you’ll still need to utilise your supplies wisely. This is because travelling uses up your sanity; if you should run out of this… well, let’s just say things are going to end badly. Therefore, it’s best to only travel when you need to, moving across the island in as few moves as possible. Of course, if you buy supplies, like whisky and chocolate, you’ll be able to keep your sanity levels up. During the tutorial stages, I didn’t find keeping my sanity in check much of an issue, though once you’re on one of the main expeditions it soon becomes a major difference between success and failure.
Assuming you’re dedicated to locating the island’s secrets, you’ll encounter an unusual monument, one which the islander tries to warn you about. Regardless of whether he leaves or stays, you’ll still make the unfortunate decision to mess with the device, consequently triggering an event that wipes the island off the map! The only plus side to this is that you manage to escape before it disappears.
This is where you’re then thrown into the real gameplay of Curious Expedition 2. The stablisers are off and you have to go it alone, without the safety net of guidance.
When preparing for your first “official” expedition, you’ll notice how the lead character switches to someone new. This not only means you get to learn from past mistakes, but you get to change up your crew, and ultimately make better (or worse) decisions. During this time, you’ll also get to choose clubs to help fund your travel; these work in a similar way to guilds and class/race traits. You can choose from traditional, science, or spiritual, each of them coming with their own pros and cons, meaning that no two expeditions will be the same.
If I’m totally honest, the only issue I have with this game is that the turn-based combat doesn’t feel intuitive — you have to roll dice during your turn to determine what moves are available. It was this feature I didn’t care for, it simply felt like an unnecessary element that slowed the experience down. Nonetheless, it didn’t take too much away from my pleasure of the game.
What needs to be kept in mind is that this is dubbed ‘version 1.0’, and even though Curious Expedition 2 has trekked through Steam Early Access, patches and updates are expected going forward. Personally, I don’t think anything needs radically changing, it’s more about polishing this game into the masterpiece it can be.