Early Access Preview: The Curious Expedition

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In Maschinen-Mensch‘s latest creation The Curious Expedition, you find yourself in the shoes of a 19th century explorer competing in a race of global fame or prestige. Maintain your sanity as you spelunk caves and jungles, uncover ancient tombs, and fight jaguars, all while trying to stay on good terms with the locals and their pagan gods.

Taking place across various pixelized frontiers from South American jungles to African deserts and Australian hinterland, you and your party explore the world, traversing each hex-shaped tile to victory. Each expedition ends when your party successfully finds the hidden golden pyramid–and let me tell you, that’s a lot harder than it sounds.

One does not simply derp in the wilderness unprepared. You have to manage your inventory, party, sanity and local standing all while trying to find that blasted pyramid. Sanity acts as an overall measurement of your health and fatigue; no sanity means your party will start to fraction one by one until you, too, fall victim to the wilds.

At the end of each round, you either sell off any loot you’ve collected for a tidy profit or stick it in a museum to boost your prestige (your overall score against your other competing explorers). Naturally, the explorer with the most prestige wins.

As an Early Access title, The Curious Expedition is always improving. Though I picked it up shortly after its launch back in May, they’ve already made quite a few changes between then and now. At present (which is Alpha 17.1), they’ve added hazards like swarms of mosquitoes that spread disease, progress bars during expeditions to show how you rank against your rivals (honestly, snapshots at the end of each journey didn’t tell you much, like not knowing how many points either team scored during a basketball game until they’re done playing).

And your competitors are ruthless. From Marie Curie to Charles Darwin, you must fight tooth and nail IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE. And, of course, preserving your sanity and good name.

While this is a game that’s deeply engrossed in survivalism and exploration, its combat is surprisingly fun for an otherwise “civil” game. Depending on various attributes of your characters, you’re given dice to make attack rolls. Certain combinations can inflict attacks on enemies or evoke defensive buffs to help absorb the counterattack.

You can have aggressive party members, thinking you’ll be safe, but a well-rounded party with support and defensive characters will help keep you alive longer than just a few chaps with strong left hooks.

Between the pacing and the amount of dangers one faces in the jungles and across the desert, The Curious Expedition is quite unforgiving to new players. Maybe I just suck, but I don’t think I’ve been able to survive past the third or fourth expedition, either running out of supplies or party members by then.

Sometimes finding that golden pyramid is nigh impossible, though now at least there’s an option to bail out with the use of a deployable hot air balloon, though at the expense of party members and loot that can’t fit in that tiny basket.

With everything said and done, Maschinen-Mensch has a great foundation for their upcoming game, but I’m curious to see how their expedition fares in its final release which is yet to be determined.

See what I did there?

About author

Anthony Magestro

Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.