Curious Expedition 2 Gamescom 2020 Impressions
Curious Expedition 2 is the follow-up to the award-winning 19th century expedition simulation. The developers Maschinen-Mensch chose the Early Access route once again, as it seems it works for them.
I finished the demo and I have to say that the game is very enjoyable. You take again the role of a 19th century explorer who runs expeditions for various Explorer Clubs. Your goal is to explore mysterious islands in the Atlantic, discover its natives, morphology, mysterious plants and animals, and bring back to Paris any treasure you find.
The gameplay loop is very enjoyable. The expedition begins by buying provisions that you think will help during the traversal of the islands, hopping on the ship and starting to explore. Various events can happen in each expedition and depending on how you handle them, the outcome will be different every time. I angered a tribe for example, because I left during a wedding week and I had them hunting me down. I am not a person to leave a party early, but I had to get on with my assigned work, I didn’t know they’d take it personally and be mad at me.
If things go wrong, you do have to battle whatever hunts you. The game uses a turn based battle system where you roll dice and depending on the result, you can do various actions like attack, weaken enemies, heal friends etc. That RNG factor makes confrontations a bit more stressful and thankfully in my gaming session I haven’t felt the system to be unfair.
The main mechanic that you need to pay attention to is sanity and how to replenish it. Moving in different areas and biomes costs sanity and if you get stranded away from your ship, a friendly village or a resting area, you will probably die. Items can help with that but in the early game you need to consider if you’ll bring drinks and chocolate for sanity or healing items. Your inventory at first is not big so you need to think about what your goal is on the expedition and how to approach it. Go guns blazing or beeline to your destination.
Finishing an expedition successfully will up your standing with the Club you chose, will net you more money and tickets that you can spend funding your next expedition and upgrading your character. Tickets help in the case a companion gains a quirk you want to get rid of, say if someone discovers carnivorous plants and becomes paranoid for example (wink wink). If you botch your job, you lose all the treasures you found and probably your company will end up consisting of broken people unable to perform.
Some gameplay elements of Curious Expedition 2 made me think of Darkest Dungeon, but Lite. If you are a fan of the previous game I am sure you will enjoy this one too, since it improves on the elements of the first game. I sunk 70+ minutes in the demo and time flew by. And since this was an Early Access demo, there were a few dialogues missing, but that’s ok. The devs have proven that they can do good work during this period and complete a really enjoyable game. Finally and that’s completely personal, I’m not a big fan of the new visual style, neither the animation that feels like shadow puppet theatre. I would prefer pixel art like in the first game, but in proper proportions.
Anyway, this game is definitely worth it and comes at a very low price point. Play the demo and decide for yourselves.
It’s worth noting that Curious Expedition 2 won the award for Best Indie Game at Gamescom 2020! For that reason they have a brand new free demo on Steam that will only be available until the end of the weekend.