Sequel Curious Expedition 2 from Thunderful and Maschinen-Mensch is a turn-based narrative-driven roguelike exploration adventure. Check our Curious Expedition 2 review!
Sequel Curious Expedition 2 from Thunderful and Maschinen-Mensch is a turn-based narrative-driven roguelike exploration adventure. Your journey will take you through a variety of procedurally generated biomes set in a reimagined version of the late 19th century. Opportunity and danger go hand in hand in this world, and you’ll need to manage your provisions – and take care of your group’s sanity – if you are to succeed. The randomized nature of the game will apply not only to the biomes you’ll explore but also to the story you’ll experience, which will greatly increase the replay value. Having reviewed the prequel Curious Expedition on the Nintendo Switch back in 2020, I was ready to take the sequel for a spin.
Your journey with Curious Expedition 2 starts when, while returning from a scientific expedition to Peru, your character spots a storm brewing on the horizon. While the crew prepared to change course to divert around it, she spotted something right in the middle of it: land! There was an island right there in the middle of the Atlantic… even though that should not have been the case. While the Captain did not agree with your call, you order the crew to hold right and make way to the island in the heart of the storm. When it seemed like everyone would die because of the raging waters, the ship emerged from the maelstrom into an unusual calm. Once you dock on the island’s shore, your journey will begin.
For each run you do, you can select between three difficulty settings: Traveller, Adventurer, and Lunatic. Traveller is the easier of the three, allowing those that want a more casual experience to enjoy the world of Curious Expedition 2. Adventurer is the standard difficulty setting, offering a balanced experience. Lunatic is reserved for gamers who have experience with the game and who are not afraid of facing a considerable challenge. You can also select the consequences of death for your run, having the game allow you to restart your expedition, have it wipe out the year for the exploration, or completely wipe out the campaign, forcing you to start a new run.
There are some options for the explorer you’ll use as the main leader of the group, with each one having different companions, starting items, and abilities. By completing quests, you’ll be able to unlock more and more leaders for subsequent expeditions. Before departing, you’ll be at the Paris hub in the year 1886. Each expedition will take a year, so you should make the most of the units you can recruit at the hub before leaving. As long as your group is not full, you can recruit a new member between each expedition. At first, you should be sure to take on low-difficulty expeditions so that you can better get the hang of things as you improve your odds.
You can also select an explorer club, which will act as your sponsor for the journey. Based on the club you pick, you’ll receive money to take on the expedition and will be rewarded for a successful endeavor. You’ll also gain club experience points and unlock items to purchase from each club. There’s the Royal Avalon Society, with its crest displaying a lion wearing a gentleman’s hat, as it carries a cane in one hand and a bejeweled gold cup in the other. You could also gain the favor of Lux Labs, represented by an eagle holding lightning bolts in its claws while displaying a lightbulb at its center. And there’s also the Taishi Academy, with a crest showcasing a powerful ancient dragon holding a scroll and a lantern. Each club will have its own shop as well as offers special services, such as curing ailments, upgrading your equipment, or allowing you to train your characters to increase their experience points.
Each move will cost some of your group’s sanity, which you can see on the upper right corner of the screen. Every time you move around the map, you pay a travel start cost, so it’s more efficient to decide how far you want to move during that turn in order to make the most of your resources. Each step you take on the hex-based map will also take a day, so do keep this in mind! When traveling, you can always cancel everything and bring your group to a complete stop, which is useful if you reveal a point of interest while moving around the map.
When you find a un unknown location, you can reveal it by moving within two tiles from it. For example, you might find an unknown location during your first expedition. When you come closer to it, you’ll notice that it’s actually a shipwreck! Move right next to it, and you’ll be given the option of exploring it. Once you do, the game’s narrative will kick in, giving you more information about the vessel you’ve found. You can then decide to explore inside or just leave. You need to weigh the pros and cons of each of your actions, or you’ll end up defeated in no time.
If you find any items, you can decide which ones to add to your inventory, as well as how many copies of each individual item you’ll be taking. Your inventory slots are limited, and you can only carry so many things before you need to decide what to discard and what to keep. Food is important since it will keep your group healthy physically and mentally by increasing how many sanity points it has. First aid kits are also important since they can be used to patch up wounds. After that, you could decide to have some dynamite on you so that you can use it either while exploring the map or when in combat – more on this in a bit – or have a shovel or two so that you can dig up things on the map.
You’ll meet several groups indigenous to the locations you visit. Some of them will be human, while others will be creatures that might have humanoid elements. The way you act when in the presence of each tribe member will establish your standing with them, which will represent your reputation with the locals. Having a good reputation is a must if you want to survive since you’ll eventually need to ask for their help so that you can rest in their village, meet their ruler to better understand the tribe and the location you’re exploring, request to recruit a local to help with your cause, or barter with them as you trade items.
When trading, you can use the items in our inventory to barter with the locals so that you can either get a better deal than them or offer additional items to increase your standing with them. I definitely don’t suggest you try to cut each deal as close to the limit as possible since having a good standing is going to be a must during your first handful of runs as you learn all of the basics and get to better understand how the game works. You can trade for materials, items that can be used on the map to increase sanity or boost the loyalty of one of your group’s members, items you can equip to deal more damage or reduce the damage received in combat, and more.
Speaking of combat, for Curious Expedition 2, it will be of the dice-based variety. What this means is that for each action you take, you’ll have to roll the dice and hope for the best potential outcome. While strategy certainly plays a part, luck is very much part of the equation. Will you survive against the wild creatures you will find during your expedition? Or will lady luck simply turn her back on you, sending you to an early grave? You will need to recruit as many units as possible in order to have a varied group that can overcome even the worst of odds based on their capacity, the abilities they possess, their health, and level.
What enemies can you find in combat? There will be a lot of different opponents to battle, such as hyenas, giant snakes, giant crabs – attack its weak point for massive damage! -panthers, tigers, crocodiles, raptors, giant centipedes, and more! Each enemy will have different stats, attacks, and abilities for you to consider so that you can devise the right strategy to defeat them based on what dice you roll during your turn. Boosting an ally’s strength so that it can deal extra damage with an attack could be a good idea, and you might want to use a healing ability every now and then to keep your group in as best shape possible.
Units gain experience points after surviving in combat, by exploring, or by completing some activities. Once a unit has accrued enough experience points, it will be available for promotion, which means it can level up. Press the L2 button and then select the character and press the X button to promote it. This will increase a character’s overall maximum health points, as well as increase the effectiveness of its attacks and abilities, which are a must if you want to stay alive. You never know what you’ll find when searching an abandoned camp or when walking around the jungle! Promoting a unit will also have an effect on their dice, decreasing the number of blank slots on their dice while also increasing the effectiveness of each face.
Dice will have one of three colors: red, green, or blue. Red dice are mostly related to physical actions, which means attacking enemies during combat. Green dice are for special actions that require a bit of extra planning – and some luck. As for blue dice, they’re for actions such as healing or boosting. Speaking of boosting, if you, say, play a red dice to punch an enemy, you can use another red one to boost the effectiveness of the attack in order to deal more damage to an enemy. Some dice also have additional effects to add, such as poison, weakness, stun, or bleeding, to name some examples. Other events will also require you to roll the dice in order to determine their outcome. Need to take part in the ritual dance of a tribe in order to boost your standing with them? Roll the dice and see if you really have what it takes to be considered as a friend of the tribe!
Curious Expedition has a long trophy list to work on, with 54 Bronze trophies, 5 Silver trophies, and a single Gold trophy, which means that you can get a Platinum trophy for your efforts. Given that list, there are a bunch of objectives to complete, such as completing an island with an all-animal party – excluding the leader, of course -, collecting 50 butterflies, completing each of the story acts, completing the campaign in the Traveller, Adventurer, and Lunatic difficulty settings, completing the campaign without dying, completing the campaign without killing anything in combat, discovering 15 locations, finding fifty buried treasures, completing 20 three-skull expeditions, defeating 100 hyenas, completing an island without resting, or riding a dinosaur, to name some examples.
Along with the main Curious Expedition 2 experience, there’s also the Highlands of Avalon DLC to consider. This DLC adds a new island type to the game, with a new set of tiles, a new tribe – the Picts -, new artwork for shrines, eight new recruitable characters – Grail Knight, the Precious Clydesdale horse, three Kobold variants (Bard, Scoundrel, and Shamen, Shaman) and three variants of Picts islanders (Spiritual Druid, Pictish Outrider, and Tattooed Warrior). There will also be new enemies to fight, six new locations to visit, five new items, and seven new pieces of equipment. You will also gain access to a chance to unlock four new levels at the Royal Avalon Society Explorer Club in Paris, which will then allow you to recruit another character and gain access to three pieces of equipment.
Curious Expedition 2 is a highly addictive turn-based narrative-driven roguelike exploration adventure that is a must-play on PlayStation 4. It improves on everything its prequel did, giving us a bigger and better adventure to take on, with dozens of hours of content ahead of you. The hand-drawn presentation is very charming, and the many events you’ll experience, the tribes you’ll meet, the enemies you’ll combat, and the large variety of items and equipment to collect will keep you coming back for more. Add the Director’s Mode, which allows you to tailor your experience by increasing the danger you face with an expedition that takes place after the main game’s Campaign Mode, as you boost the potential Fame you can gain by successfully completing an expedition while also adding a negative modifier to your journey, and you have a game that is very easy to recommend. Curious Expedition 2 is out on PlayStation 4 with a $19.99 asking price, with the Highlands of Avalon DLC available for $5.99.
This Curious Expedition 2 review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Thunderful.