It’s time to grab your fedora and let people know that everything belongs in a museum. Time to gather your party and battle giant crabs, pirates and Nuns for rocks, shiny bits of metal and other useless tat. It’s time for ………………………………………………………………..
The game see’s you selecting a head for your three man party and then setting out on a series of quests through various exotic lands to claim a lost treasure. Each lost treasure, along with any other artifices you manage to trip over, the fame, research and general gold will go towards your over all score as you try to become the best explorer in the biz.
Not everyone will be up to the role of captain straight off the bat of course with most needing a few playthroughs before they’re up for the task. Now it’s important to pick a good amount of synergy for your team though thankfully if you have no idea what that word means the game will always be there to give you a suggestion on the two spare spaces. Everyone will have a few talents and traits to bring to the table along with a preferred fighting style. Once done you’re on your way with a dotted line taking us through the loading screen as the map is only able to generate drawing pins and name tags.
This world map will show you the options open to you along with a rough rating for each basically asking if you want to play it safe or put on your big boy pants and try to knock that smug grin off Matthieu Rivaleux’s face. He will be filling the role of your rival, always one step ahead and ontop of the leader board for most of the game. So you get to pick where you want to go, presumably after reading the helpful description of the place which will tell you what traits and talents will be good to have here along with the general fighting style you’re gonna need. The it is off to the next screen where we see a string of dotted lines leading from point to point. Each of these will hopefully have a series of small icons around the base. I won’t go into what they all mean here and now but if there ain’t any then there ain’t anything there to see and you’ve pretty much just wasted your turn. You move this was, consuming supplies through the fog of war ideally aiming for the goal which always reveals itself at the start. This carries on until a story event or a battle, which is technically also a story event.
After a bit of fluff the game will give you a series of options, sometimes costing traits or previous abilities and events, but often giving you a percentage for each member of your party to attempt it, whether that be bartering with the locals, sneaking past some guards or warding off evil spirits. This is where the wheel of fortune comes in taking into account each of your characters stats and traits to give you a basic number based probability to play with. Should you risk it the numbers play out on a scrolling wheel that plays out so much better than if they’d just run the math behind the curtain. The way it can just tick over or catch on a latch and not make it to the next square can actually be quite tense making it all the more dramatic and action packed.
Of course none of this is the real meat of the game which comes in the combat sections as we zoom in on the map to reveal neatly sized sections and a party waiting to meet us. Now I mentioned fighting style before and I should probably go into that. Yes everybody has special fight moves and actions they can take but it all comes down to, happiness, sarcasm and physical combat. Happiness heals your party members spurring them on for a few rounds more, sarcasm can dis-armour your opponents and of course physical combat is all about, punching, kicking, shooting, stabbing and biting your opponent until they drop down dead. The things is it doesn’t have to be this way, you can favour the peace treaty over a gun shot to the gut to convince your opposition that you’re just so awesome they should let you have your way. Instead of wiping out an indigenous tribe of monkey’s or crabs you can insult them so much that they leave in tears rather that in a coffin.
In fact the game will often indicate one method over the other for you at the start promising, extra gold for doing it one way, or extra research for another. Sometimes this will be right up the alleyway of the party you have chosen and sometimes it won’t meaning you have to ask is it worth your blood thirsty band of brigades being nice to the local nuns for the sake of a few extra scraps of gold when that hand behind your back style could end up with you loosing to a bunch of O.A.P’s.
From here it’s back to the world map where you can upgrade your equipment learn new skills and increase your retinue waiting back home to sell your story to the local papers, write up new thesis and sell off all the rubbish you have brought back with you to increase your chance of being named ‘Most Renowned Explorer’
This is a rather light, rogue-lite experience, not to complicated and with a number of play style options for those not wanting for a crippling challenge that will have them tearing their hair out. There are Iron man modes and cheat options right in the main menu meaning this will cover a fairly wide player base so long as they’re not looking for anything too serious.
Of course by now there’s also the expansion called ‘More to explore’ which pretty mush is what it says on the tin. Truth be told while it adds some interesting mechanics and traits along with more areas to adventure through there is enough in the base game to warrant the fifteen quid price tag on GOG and Steam so maybe hold off on getting the upgrade til a few runs through.