The Curious Expedition-TiCGNAs I embarked upon my Curious Expedition, my spirits were lifted at the prospect of adventure and fame to be won. As the expedition entered its hundredth day, I found myself tired and slowly driven insane by these mysterious new lands. I sat beside the fire eating meat from the leg bone of my last companion, I reflected upon the choices that led me to this junction in my life and wondered if I would ever see society again.

Story

The Curious Expedition is, at its heart, a text based rogue like adventure, and so story weighs in as the most important aspect of this game. It’s set up like a choose your own adventure only rather than select an option and turn to that page, you select one of the two to four options usually available to you that either opens up other choices (be they dialogue, travel, trading, further exploration, or combat). The story constantly shifts and adapts to your choices and since each playthrough is also randomly generated, this leads to hundreds of story variables. It is unlikely that you will ever play through the exact same story twice.

20160905103138_4c5a36ecSo, what is the story then? The basis of The Curious Expedition is a competition between famous explorers and other historical personages.   Your end goal in every expedition is to find a lost golden pyramid, although you can also take on side quests such as to find a loved one or bring back specific artifacts. The winner is the explorer that gains the most fame from their various explorations through quickness of exploration, finding the pyramid, and so on. There is a number attached to that, and if you reach that number, you win the game. What happens through your journey is a personal account of your travels. So, for perspective, here is my in game journal from one ill-fated exploration (the developers werent the best at using proper grammar or syntax, so you will see plenty such errors in this snippet):

Marie Curie

Conducted pioneering research on radioactivity and 1st women to win a Nobel prize.

Expedition 3

Just before we set sail. someone approached me with a request. He asked us to obtain an idol from a native village. I accepted and promised to acquire it.

Day 1

So our journey began. I was followed by Tim Timster (Journalist), James Sterling (Diplomat), Sir Hawke (Donkey), Luis (Scouting dog), Mr. Needham (Raptor).

Day 29

We found an old ruin. The shrine collapsed as everything around us turned into a giant desert.

Day 35

In a horrible accident James Sterling was killed through my own weapon.

Day 78

We searched the area and were surprised to find that one of the rotten crates still held some valuable equipment.

Day 82

I am certain now that we will fail. We need to get out of here.

Day 83

I was all alone and approached my personal limits. Sir Hawke was my only friend left.

Day 88

That horrible night I ate my trusted pack animal Abomination .

Day 92

We barely survived the last few days, but I felt a glint of confidence returning to my mind.

Day 99

We discovered a hidden ruin. For some reason huge mountains erupted from the ground afterwards.

Day 105

That horrible night I ate my trusted pack animal Sir Hawke .

Day 110

The land is eating us. I am so tired.

That horrible night I ate the animal Luis .

Day 116

In a mysterious occurrence Moon returned to the trek.

Day 132

A group of natives visited us as we sat by the fire. I invited them to sit with us. We traded. I invited them to sit with us. One of them even joined our trek. What a night! I invited them to sit with us.

Day 140

We came across another cave that delved deep into the bowels of a mountain. Inside a dank cavern we found the nest of the giant spiders that the native spirits had expounded about. We fought gallantly and survived.

Day 143

Zapadoqik started exhibiting a creepy fascination for all things of value.

Day 153

In a horrible accident Zapadoqik was killed through my own weapon.

Day 155

Mr. Needham ‘s wounds infected. We searched the area and were delighted to see that one of the corpses was still clinging to valuable items.

Day 156

We attracted some wildlife.

We were attacked by a pack of hyenas. We fought gallantly and survived.

Day 163

Moon ‘s wounds infected.

Day 164

I was all alone and approached my personal limits. Mr. Needham was my only friend left.

Day 176

After the darkest days, there was a faint ray of hope. One step after the other.

Day 178

I knew we were in a tight spot, but with a bit more luck we might survive this nightmare.

Day 184

We are doomed. Everything is lost.

Day 207

On this sad day Mr. Needham succumbed to an infected wound.

I was all alone and approached my personal limits. Moon was my only friend left.

Day 214

I was all alone and approached my personal limits. Moon was my only friend left.

Day 222

That horrible night I ate the animal Moon .

Day 225

I, Marie Curie , died.

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The developers have set the game up in such a way that you can choose to read your expeditions as per the example above, and each expedition receives their own URL, to be held onto for eternity presumably. This was the one given to me for this playthrough. So, as you can see, the story you play through and later have transferred into a journal is completely subjective. The above represented a lot of the choices I made in that particular expedition.

I give this category the highest mark possible. 10 out of 10. Such diversity, humor, and fun all mixed into a tale of your own making.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Curious Expedition has a few different and interesting dynamics to it.

Text based adventure

As I mentioned before, your choices come in the form of multiple text options. Once you have selected an option, you then see the results/consequences of said actions.

Sometimes, you gain standing with the local tribesmen, which is useful in finding henchmen, bartering for goods, being able to rest in their villages overnight, and so on. Conversely, losing standing with them can result in their unwillingness to help you, and sometimes even results in them trying to kill you. Other results include exploration, combat, and additional dialogue options which can result in cool things such as being offered treasure maps or being told the location of new lands to explore.

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RNG (random number generator)

RNG is used in a couple ways here. RNG is represented by dice, of which there are several different types (combat, perception, defense, and so on). Dice are acquired by your specialties and the specialties of your expedition companions (and animals). Each time a decision is to be made which would result in dice rolls, your total available dice are put into play. For exploration, it is as simple as matching the required dice roll with your actual dice roll. Failure results in negative consequences (generally some horrific accident or the actual death of a companion). For combat, you roll, and then match dice combinations to garner a wide variety of results, from basic defense and attack, to special attacks, heightened defense, and so on.

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Travel

Travel in Curious Expedition is essentially hex based, but instead of turns, your distance traveled is accounted for in sanity points. The further you travel, the more sanity points you consume. If you travel further  than your sanity meter allows, there are also extreme consequences, from injury to murder and even cannibalism.

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Everything in The Curious Expedition is ultimately impacted by your sanity meter, your selection of equipment, the encumbrance of said equipment, and the companions you select to travel with you. The sanity meter is pretty simple. This function in similar fashion to health meters, except the further you travel, the more your meter drains. You can restore sanity by eating, drinking, resting, and by unlocking certain other events. Should you reach zero on your sanity counter, the results are as I described above.

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Equipment functions to restore sanity, afford you greater rate of travel across obstacles such as mountains, jungles and so on (thus preserving your sanity), add special dice to combat situations, heal damage, and gain other special effects such as clairvoyance and teleportation. However, if you are carrying more equipment than allotted slots for equipment, then it takes you longer to travel, which is reflected in sanity cost penalties. Fortunately, each companion in your group increases your available equipment slots by variable amounts, and these can be increased by leveling up your companions.

Speaking of companions, there are many in The Curious Expedition, and they all have their own specialties, which are reflected in the type of dice they add to your group, the amount of equipment slots they add, and various bonuses and penalties due to their class and quirks. For example, a journalist adds a bonus to your fame collected after an expedition. Some soldiers give you sanity bonuses after battles, and so on. Some of your companions can and will be animals. Non animal companions can be leveled up as you explore, which in turn increases their advantages. Negative quirks can also come about through your choices. Such things as arsonist tendencies to feat of the unknown can /will crop up and rear their ugly heads.

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As mentioned before, an expedition officially ends when you find the Golden Pyramid, but you can end your expedition prematurely if you need to by returning to your ship or calling for a hot air balloon extraction. Since this The Curious Expedition is a perma death game, sometimes, that might be your only option despite the negative impact it will have on your fame. Fame is important, not only for your competition, but also in being able to recruit better companions. Additionally, after each successful expedition, you get to choose a latent ability perk, such as movement bonuses, bartering bonuses, additional recruitment slots, and many more.

The funny thing is that, despite having already droned on for many paragraphs in this section, I’ve really only scratched the surface regarding the surprising depth of gameplay in The Curious Expedition. I easily give this category another 10 out of 10

Graphics

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Graphics in The Curious Expedition are NOT the priority by any means. They are fairly basic and simplistic overall, and yet immaculately serve as a vehicle to further engage you. Although a text based adventure, the graphics serve to help you visualize the scenarios that are playing out and help you to fully invest yourself in the experience. Since they aren’t prioritized and yet still serve to fully enhance gameplay, I give this category a 9 out of 10. They wont blow your mind, but they will help to create a complete experience and so are a complete success.

Sound

The audio was an afterthought in this game and really dont merit any rating. While there is audio, it is strictly in the form of accents to the gameplay, and are not truly notable in any way beyond that.

Verdict

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The Curious expedition is easily the most surprising title I have played this year. Despite the game having no achievements or notable means of tracking progress outside of the travel logs garnered after each expedition, this is a game that has me coming back for more, and I just dont see an end to that any time soon. There is more replay value to this game than perhaps with any game I have ever played before. The fact that you can play this game 50 or 100 times and never get the exact same story or result makes this a game worthy of every collection. If I was to have any criticism for the game at all, it would be the fact that spell checking wasn’t perfect and for some reason, screenshots are disabled. But really, considering the vast depth of content, those are simply minor gripes. This is a must own title for any PC gamer.

9.7 Companions lost whilst attempting to find the Golden Pyramid (we dont admit to cannibalizing any of them) out of 10 possible.

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