Curious Expedition 2 – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Roguelike, Roguelite
Developer: Maschinen-Mensch
Publishers: Thunderful Group, Thunderful Publishing
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One, PS4
Tested On: PC

Curious Expedition 2 – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Entertaining gameplay
Bad: Lots of repetition
User Score
6.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 6.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Back in 2016, Maschine-Mensch released Curious Expedition, a roguelike game set in the late 19th century based around exploring new regions and finding treasures. With unique mechanics and innovative ideas, it was well received at the time, leading to the recent release of its sequel: Curious Expedition 2. With more polished graphics and systems, Curious Expedition 2 improves on the formula, although it retains some of the issues.

Story

Curious Expedition 2’s story revolves around a group of mysterious islands appearing and vanishing throughout the world. As the head of a group of explorers under the orders of Victoria Malin, the Paris World Fair’s director, players are tasked with investigating these islands and bringing back whatever treasures and loot they might find in them.

As expected from the roguelike genre, the game’s story is not particularly deep or the main focus, being there instead to link together the player’s actions. This is also clearly visible in the shallowness of the character interactions and personalities, with even the recurring ones being completely flat through and through.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are designed in a pleasantly drawn 2D style filled with color and curious designs. All of the different environments and characters are also easily recognizable and different from each other, although this is soon bogged down by the sheer repetition the game brings.

With just a handful of different character classes and explorable areas, Curious Expedition 2 ends up reusing most of them over and over, making characters of the same class or supposedly different islands with the same environment almost indistinguishable. The way missions are handed out doesn’t help this issue either, more often than not relying on the same ones.

Sound

Curious Expedition 2’s soundtrack is competently made, containing a good variety of tracks, although none of them are particularly memorable or standing out. In contrast with this, the SFX tend to often be quite hit and miss, with some good ones but mostly tacky effects unfitting of the characters or situations. Most of these are also incredibly loud, making a massive contrast with the otherwise quietness of the characters, due to the lack of voice acting.

Gameplay

As previously mentioned, Curious Expedition 2 belongs to the roguelike/ite genre, although it contains a few twists on the usual formula. Each playthrough is divided into several different years, which are each subsequently divided into several expeditions. Depending on the settings chosen by the player, more or less progress will be lost upon dying during one of these expeditions, with the minimum being the expedition and the maximum the whole campaign.

In a system reminiscent of other games such as Darkest Dungeon, at the start of each expedition players will get the chance to purchase provisions and consumable items, which will later be returned. These items may provide several different effects, but the most important one would be sanity recovery.

As players explore the islands, their party will slowly lose sanity with each movement. Upon losing all of it, insanity events will start triggering. These events will bring random effects to the player’s party, sometimes to a character at random or some others to all of them. The different effects also vary wildly, from minor inconveniences such as blacking out and moving unwantedly to characters cannibalizing each other. In order to prevent this, players will need to use the aforementioned consumables or find resting spots, although these are not too common and their location purely relies on RNG.

Throughout the expedition, players will also encounter different events and locations, each with different interactions and effects. The game offers a nice variety of these, ranging from encountering natives willing to trade and talk, to abandoned temples filled with traps and loot. That said, after a few expeditions most of the novelty will have worn off; all events of the same type being nigh identical.

The requirements to finish the expeditions will also vary, although the options tend to be a lot more limited. Depending on the type of expedition, players might be tasked with finding pyramids, lost explorers, or certain items. To do so, most of these expeditions will provide either of two systems: a rotating symbol that will spin faster the closest to the objective or a compass aiming at said objective. Similar to the different events, these objectives tend to suffer from the “seen it once, seen it all” syndrome, with different golden pyramids having no changes between them.

At the end of each expedition, the party will return to Paris with their obtained loot, which will promptly convert into experience and tickets. The experience points will increase the alignment with whichever club players might have chosen to be sponsored by in the expedition, each with different bonuses, while the tickets will act as currency in the exposition grounds. With these tickets, players may purchase different services, such as equipment, upgrades, or new party members. Although certain things are available soon enough, the better equipment and special party members will remain locked behind a level requirement in each club.

In order to fulfill more events and manage to survive combat encounters, players will also have to balance their party with different members. Although the combat remains similar for all of them, their abilities will vary. During combat and events, these skills will show in the form of die, which will be rolled in order to determine which of them players may use, if any. This may be rigged with certain consumables, however. Depending on the equipment on each character, these may also obtain new abilities to use in combat or simply passive effects.

Conclusion

Curious Expedition 2 is an entertaining game with interesting and mostly unique gameplay that is somewhat let down by the repetitiveness of its options. Those looking for something to play in short bursts from time to time might find it very enjoyable, although it might not be as recommendable for those expecting to play it for hours at once. With a price of $/€19,99 or  £16.99, it might be recommendable to wait for a sale and more content before purchasing it.

Personal Opinion

“Playing Curious Expedition 2 was pretty entertaining and it’s definitely a game I wouldn’t mind playing from time to time. That said, I have to admit I was mostly turning my brain off while playing it. With little reason to explore the islands or enter the different events, playing the game in a completely linear way is perfectly doable and has little to no drawbacks. With how annoying the sanity system becomes, I’d also argue the developers agree with me, because exploring with no sanity becomes a slog of random chance, expecting your characters to leave, eat each other or suffer ailments. Funnily enough, the comparison to Darkest Dungeon doesn’t end in the supplies, with a lot of comparisons being possible, such as said aliments, the way the town hub works and a few other things.”

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Rating: 6.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Curious Expedition 2 - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

1 Comment

  1. […] independent developer Maschinen-Mensch are excited to announce that the Highlands Of Avalon DLC for Curious Expedition 2 is out now on PC, priced at $5.99 / €5.99 / £4.99 with a 10% launch discount. The update will be […]

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