Curious Expedition Review

Curious Expedition is a rogue-like expedition simulation set in the late 19th century. Take the role of famous historical personalities and venture forth on expeditions to unexplored regions on a quest for game, science and, of course, fortune! Don your pith helmet and khakis and make your way through a lush, procedurally generated world full of wonder and mystery. This game, from Thunderful Publishing AB and developed by Maschinen-Mensch, is rated T for teen by the ESRB for blood, drug reference, use of alcohol, and violence. A suitable rating, to be sure. While the blood and violence aren’t overly graphic, the difficulty and nature of the game are not really suited for younger players.


At the opening screen you will find selections for New Game, Tutorial, Hall of Fame, and Continue. Naturally we’ll start with the tutorial. The tutorial will give you a pretty good idea of how the game is played. I’d advise you pay close attention, as the tutorial will hold your hand from beginning to end. Unfortunately this also makes it very easy to skip through it quickly without really letting the info sink on to your brain. For this reason, I played through the tutorial a few times. I’ll admit to skipping through it quickly and not fully exploring it the first time. I do have some questions which the tutorial hasn’t really answered for me but hopefully I’ll be smart enough to figure it out on my own through gameplay.

Upon starting a New Game players get to choose the Explorer they wish to play as. There are several to choose from at the start and a good number of additional explorers available to unlock through gameplay. At the time of this writing I have eight explorers but I’m pretty sure I unlocked at least one of them. Several names are familiar to me, plus there are a few I don’t know. Each explorer has his or her own bonuses and perks ensuring a different experience each time you play. The developers have kindly provided the requirements to unlock these unknown explorers.  Once you make your selection you are brought to the difficulty selection. Even on the easiest setting I haven’t made it past the fourth expedition.

You must finish first in a race against fellow explorers to gain the most fame in six expeditions to have your statue erected in the explorers club. This makes balancing your discoveries that you bring back a challenge, as you can either donate them to the club in exchange for fame, keep them for yourself, or sell them for monetary gain. Before each expedition embarks you have an opportunity to purchase supplies, and upgrade equipment. You may also be offered side quests that you may accept or refuse for additional rewards. Keep in mind that accepting and failing to complete these quests will hurt your reputation. Choosing your destination on the world map, you can also see the locations of your rival explorers. The game map is procedurally generated with hexagonal tiles so you will never play the same map twice.

Move your expedition around the map, learn the different tile types and what equipment is needed to traverse each tile to make your journey easier. You need to find the Golden Pyramid to finish your expedition or return to your ship with whatever spoils you managed to collect from various caves and shrines. For each expedition you complete you can enhance your explorer’s attributes through a number of perks offered but you must choose wisely. Periodically you will be faced with a battle. This is played out through a dice game, the rules of which I find to be a bit obscure. The biggest struggle I’ve found is managing supplies versus your sanity level. Befriending the natives does help lower the cost of supplies but remember that you are in a race for fame against your rivals and time is of the essence.

The visual style of the game is in line with many late 80’s, early 90’s computer games. Pixels galore, but after a while you’ll be able to tell what kind of landscape each pattern of pixels represents. The music and sound effects is appropriately matched to the visual art style and often times can go unnoticed but you’d miss it if it wasn’t there.

It’s unclear to me if the game will ever feature any multiplayer but I can see racing head to head against other players in the same manner as in the single player campaign i.e not a shared screen or split screen but a simple progress bar to see how close each player is to achieving their goal. It would be nice if the Hall of Fame featured an online leaderboard as well as your own high scores. For now though the solo adventure will have to suffice.

Conclusion

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Overall Curious Expedition is a nice little time killer that can be played casually, in small increments. I’d advise against binging on it because it has potential to become boring really quick for some people. It’s nice that every play through will be different but there isn’t really a whole lot of action – but simply surviving will be a hard enough time as it is. For some reason it kept making me think of that old game Oregon Trail. It’s rare that I rank a games replay value higher than it’s overall experience but it is enjoyable in small doses. If the developers could manage to patch in some sort of multiplayer it would definitely entice me to go back and try some more.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Nice visual style
  • Lots of explorers to choose from
  • Randomly generated maps keep things fresh
Bad
  • Some of the mechanics are a bit obtuse
  • Can get repetitve
6.5
Okay
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 6
Audio - 6.5
Longevity - 7.5
Written by
Born in New Jersey across the Hudson from Manhattan, I've been playing games for over 30 years. I can confidently say that I've played at least one game on every console ever made. An accomplished Forza artist, I enjoy racing games, platformer/puzzlers, adventure/RPG's, sports titles, and arcade shooters, although I have been known to play some FPS's on occasion. JPep715 on Xbox and jpepek715 on Twitch, feel free to add or give me a follow.

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