Platforms: PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 11/08/2021
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.
Here we have a game that I think will fly under the radar of most folks on most consoles and is an oddity in games. It’s a procedurally generated, rougelike, RPG, D&D style dice rolls, with choices that will affect the game both long and short term. Anything there you fancy?
In an alternative 19th century shortly before the Exposition Universelle of 1900, Victoria Malin enters an unknown Island surrounded by a purple fog. After venturing to the temple and disturbing the Treasure there, the fog descends on the Island threading to engulf Victoria and her party. Narrowly escaping the Island disappears as if had never been there.
Now back in Paris, Victoria needs the help of trusted allies to set sail and look for the Island as well as bring back any treasure they find. But most importantly, find the reason the purple fog is engulfing the island and how to stop it.
For stories in Rougelikes that can become haphazard to say the least. Here, however, the story continues after we do the story expedition every fourth expedition. With expedition having their own isolated interactions and stories. This way you enjoy the game and the story comes in drips, rather than just all at once or not at all.
With gameplay Curious Expedition 2 has a load going on. I am going to break it down as simple as possible.
The play will pick a group leader that will be in charge of a team of four other NPCs. Each leader will have their own objectives when out. This will affect how the game plays out.
The other four slots are party members you recruit from the bar in Paris, out in the wilds or through the sponsors (more on that soon). Each of these recruits has their own pros and cons. For instance, I have a character who was scared of heights and every time I went on a hill would get scared, trust you less and eventually leave. I had one party member leave, as I did not do as she wanted me to.
The recruits have their own speculations, for instance a medic could heal the party more, where a solider can do more damage. This is about finding recruits that fit your style of play or the needs of the crew.
This comes in two forms: items and sanity
With items there is a very limited bag slots. So when it comes to it and it will come to it, do you keep the gold or do you drop it for whisky? Gold will increase funds but whisky restores health, for example. I leaned to the latter as no point keeping items if I can’t get back to my ship.
Here we have a right pain in the arse. Sanity drops for every move you do on the map. Movements need to be done is as little moves as possible as there is an upfront cost to moving and the cost of moving its self. So every move needs to be weighed up and possibility of meeting locals and getting information is much needed.
We can increase sanity so we last long, and it can be restored through use of items and resting. Each having a cost. If Sanity goes to zero, then you are up the creek as sanity events happen and they will cripple the part or kill it all together. That is not game over, you just start again with a new party.
The sponsors are just that and a little more. As you do expeditions for a sponsor, you will get a reputation that opens up possible upgrades in their store that will make future runs easier. And of course they give you money to buy previsions with before you set off.
The map for each expedition is randomly generated and also has a difficulty rating. Some maps are small and need only to go to three points and that you back home. While others require finding a temple and an item, but will have more enemies, bigger maps, fewer items and so on and they become very difficult.
There are also random events or people to meet on Islands, and these can sell you items, give information, let you rest as well as a few other things. You could come across a village, and depending on previous actions, it might hinder or help these interactions.
As I mentioned before, the story missions are every fourth expedition, and this is one hell of a difficulty jump. These missions can span multiple maps and have multiple objectives, making every little action you make so much more impactful. They are all do able the first time, but they will have you on the edge of the seat at all times.
Here is one of the best parts of Curious Expedition 2, the battle system. Each party member has their own set of dice and empty dice. Each round is turned based and each character will throw all their dice per turn and what actions they can take. There is the possibility to re-roll the empty and one face dice, hopefully allowing for another useful turn.
The battle system is simple and easy to understand. The difficulty comes from making sure that each turn is used to maximize damage or heals. This could be use a dog to cause a bleed effect or lower defences, that pummeling that enemy. That I kept forgetting to do, making fights harder.
I could see many people ignoring Curious Expedition 2 because of the art style. Being very cartoony and bright. I know of a few people who told me they dislike how it looks.
The only real problem I found with Curious Expedition 2 is with the battle system. The pointer was a bit fiddly. Not game braking, just at times annoying.
Overall Curious Expedition 2 is a fantastic game if you want a challenge as this is no pushover. Each move has the potential to ruin a run and with limited items choices need to me made and the crew need to be looked after.
If you are up for the challenge, I recommend Curious Expedition 2 for you. And if you don’t like the cartoon look, it’s you who will miss out.