Curious Expedition 2 by Maschinen-Mensch
In Curious Expedition 2 by Maschinen-Mensch, it’s the late 1880s and mysterious islands have been magically manifesting out of nowhere. It’s up to the player to explore and traverse these islands for fame and glory.
Every Journey Begins with a Single Step
From this point, you can decide to collect treasure for certain Exploration Clubs, each with its own unique items and perks. You can recruit party members like a doctor or someone who can cook food found during exploration treks. You can even purchase equipable items for party members.
There is so much depth in regards to how you can approach the game, it is a little daunting but impressive how much you can do. It makes for a game that feels like an RPG with some simulation-style management.
Curious Expedition 2 is largely focused on delivering an exploration experience molded via generation. Islands are randomly generated using a number of unique biomes. Locals on islands can consist of ambitious creatures or human indigenous tribes. Shrines, tombs, caves and structures abound during exploration treks. There is plenty of variation to the point that it didn’t feel like islands were just color palette swaps. It made my time with this game feel like a huge, interesting handful of adventures.
Bitten by the Travel Bug
The game also features a fun gameplay loop. It involves receiving a mission – usually to find or discover a particular landmark – but as you explore the island, you’ll uncover more of the grayed-out map, marking structures of encampments nearby. There are plenty of nonessential places and structures to explore for bonus experience and treasures. When the mission is completed, you return home and then take on another exploration mission.
I really enjoyed the gameplay loop because most missions didn’t feel too long or daunting, and exploring the islands was a blast because I was itching to see what odd and mystical things I would find next.
The random generation doesn’t stop at level design. There are plenty of randomized sequences that make exploring these islands more of a challenge.
One time, one of my party members got a nasty infection. Another time, one of my party members threatened to leave if I didn’t give them more treasure on the spot. These sequences helped make the journeys more of a surprise, quelling boredom I would’ve had.
The focus on randomized elements does bring about some challenges. Thankfully, Curious Expedition 2 is more forgiving than other games with randomized elements. The RPG elements help mitigate frustration by offering a decent amount of permanent upgrades to make future treks easier. You can level up party members, permanently upgrade stats, and unlock new perks. There are a lot of systems at play here that make the game complex but also a less hair-pulling experience.
Each Expedition Is a Roll of the Dice
Of course, with randomized elements, there are moments of frustration. For example, a lot of actions require correct dice rolls to succeed. Whether it’s helping gain notoriety from the local settlers or successfully escaping a booby trap, it can at times feel like the game leans a little too much on luck. This can cause some frustration in more dire moments.
Another aspect of Curious Expedition 2 I found to be frustrating was its combat. Enemies often attack randomly, making combat harder to avoid. Combat also relies on dice rolls: you need to roll a set number of dice every turn to see what attacks you can pull off for that turn. Thankfully, you can re-roll once per turn, but I felt like this aspect of combat was needlessly cumbersome.
It also makes it all feel more dragged out. The combat in this game is not a deal-breaker, but since there is quite a bit of it, it’s one of the game’s less stellar points, in my opinion.
The game has a nice cartoon-inspired style. Characters are purposefully made to look like storybook paper dolls as they hop or stiffly attack enemies. This lighthearted style to all the characters and settings makes for a lively time, thanks to the colorful yet approachable look.
Music is relatively sparse and mainly ambient, but I think the tracks serve the exploration vibes well, with ominous leitmotifs that play when you fail a dice roll or the mysterious tones that play when you enter a shrine. It all fits well with the game’s tone.
Curious Expedition 2 is a fun game that utilizes its randomization effectively, making for a varied yet engaging experience. It does have frustrating moments that rely too much on dice rolls and frustrating combat, but overall the good areas of this game overshadow its shortcomings.
Curious Expedition 2 is available via the Nintendo Online Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store and Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Curious Expedition 2 below: