I write about all sorts of games because that’s what ends up in my hands. While most times I enjoy deeper fare like The Witcher 3, it’s nice to have a light snack here and there. That’s why I ended up being pleased with The Curious Expedition, an Early Access roguelike exploration game in the same vein as FTL: Faster Than Light.
In The Curious Expedition, you play a well-to-do individual of the Victorian era. Your goal, as was the goal of many well-to-do individuals back in those days, is to make a name for yourself! You’ll accomplish this by competing with others to become the most famous adventurer in the world. Completing expeditions successfully and bringing back loot and tales will help boost your fame, perhaps eventually jetting you to legendary status.
The goal on each expedition is to find and enter a majestic golden pyramid, whereupon you return home with your accumulated treasures and earn fame, along with a valuable perk. This, naturally, is much easier said than done. These are wild, untamed lands full of a variety of creatures that want to eat your party, for instance. What’s more, you’re far from civilization! Comfy chairs, fine dining and, perhaps most importantly, tea – all of these are comforts that just aren’t available out here in the wild, so your party’s sanity will gradually slip as you explore. If you let your sanity bottom out…uh, well, let’s just say you probably shouldn’t. Keep an eye on your supplies and the needs of your party, and be sure to rest when the opportunity is offered to keep everyone sane.
Fortunately, you aren’t going it alone. Along with choosing from an array of erstwhile individuals to lead the party, you’ll be adventuring with a variety of fine ladies and gentlemen, each of whom bring their own skills to the expedition. A translator, for instance, is invaluable when dealing with the natives and ensuring that you aren’t overstepping your boundaries. Sailors and cultists, meanwhile, have useful combat abilities, though the latter just might have their own intentions. Even pack animals can be useful; you can only hold so many items, so it’s important to balance your party’s needs with your desire to bring back valuable treasures and trophies.
Speaking of combat, there’s a unique and interesting dice-based system at play here. Every round, your characters will each roll dice. You’ll then select from these dice to make combinations that deal damage or protect you from harm – observation and tactics can help you avoid damage, for instance, while carefully aimed shots deal out extra pain. You can re-roll dice that don’t come up as you’d like, which is handy.
You’ll also need to manage your relationships with the locals. If you overstay your welcome at native villages or run around doing forbidden things and ruining sacred sites like a classic Imperalist jerk, they’ll eventually grow upset and kick you out. There’s a balancing act involved in keeping your team’s needs up while not upsetting anybody badly enough that you’re left without a safe harbor when you need one.
While it’s still a work in progress, The Curious Expedition is already shaping up pretty well. Each expedition is quick and painless enough that the usual roguelike aspects we’ve come to expect from this sort of game aren’t too bothersome. It’s a cute coffee break sort of game and worth a look if you’re after some lighter fare…well, assuming you don’t let that sanity bar run out…