What can I say, I like the gamble of random interaction.
Disclosure: This review was written using a press copy of the game.
I’d like to start off positive, I really enjoyed this game. It’s got action, diplomacy, strategy, and a whole lot of luck, and I love me some luck based gameplay.
As the name would suggest, in this game you are an explorer! Or more precisely, a group of explorers, on a mission of fame and fortune, and maybe a little vindication. You start off picking your party leader, as well as two other members, balancing your team both around your exploration style and to combat other problems. Once your party is ready, start traveling to different regions, exploring and looking for treasure, interacting with the local population, as well as some special events. The goal, aside from simply being the most renown, is to beat your rival, Rival McBadguy. Wait, no, it’s Rivaluex, my bad. He’s the current most Renown Explorer, and an arrogant dick. He wishes you ‘luck’ in your futile attempt to surpass him.
There are two modes… well three. First, you have the world map, this is where you return after each expedition. Here you can buy items with gold, unlock group talents in the form of research papers with research, recruit specialists into your entourage to give you bonuses with statues, and spend insight on jobs. After each expedition you unlock a new shop specific to that expedition, so as you play you’ll learn more of what you are interested in. One more thing to add, you can upgrade all your shops with statues, so it’s a pretty good resource to have.
The second game mode has two aspects, which is why I said there are sort of three modes. This is the exploration mode. Once you’ve chosen your next destination, you are dropped on a board with branching paths. The end goal is revealed to you on the map, and you have to get there. You travel to specific points on the map, with each point costing one or two supplies. Be wary of your supplies, if you run out before reaching the last point it can be very detrimental. Each spot you move to will have markers next to them indicating what you should expect from it. There are events that allow you to choose a party member to tackle a problem, with a certain percent to succeed based on a few factors, and then you watch the Wheel of Morality, err, Wheel of Fortune, wait no, Adventure Wheel spin to decide if you succeed or not. I do love me some gambling.
The second part of exploration mode comes in the form in encounters. This is turn based, grid combat between your party and another group. The tutorial can do a better job then I can explaining all aspects of combat, and there are a good few. The jist is this, you have three types of attacks: Aggressive, Devious, and Friendly. The more you use one type changes your party mode and the type of reward you can get. Each attack will also shift the targets state of mind to either positive or negative, as well as usually inflicting some type of emotional debuff/buff. Each emotion, and how your style of fighting mixes with the enemies, changes aspects of combat. As you can see, it’s a lot deeper than I can really get into, but let me just say this: It has something for a real hardcore strategist to play with, changing emotion and flow of combat, but you can also brute force your way through for the most part on normal or easier difficulty, so it’s accessible for everyone.
It bares repeating that I really like this game. I’m a sucker for taking risks to try and get rewarded so the random aspect to events is fun, and I get some strategy with the combat, purchasing items, recruiting people, and planning my travel route. I will warn you, each expedition has a rank from one to five stars to indicate difficulty. Unless you feel amazingly confident, be wary of five stars. You have been warned. Now, get to explorin’ and don’t come back without some priceless artifact, that way you can become…
A Renowned Explorer!