Venture Forth: Renowned Explorers Available Now

Renowned Explorers [official site] is a lovely game. Charming, thoughtful and packed with positive energy, it sets your party of three on a globetrotting series of expeditions during which they’ll charm lycanthropes, insult smugglers and (maybe) punch a monkey. It’s possible to finish a playthrough in a couple of hours, attempting to climb the leaderboards of the International Society of explorers, but there are enough encounters, crew members and intriguing systems to support many expeditions. The game launched yesterday and I’ve already spent a few hours playing.

I first encountered Renowned Explorers at Gamescom 2014 and it won me over almost immediately. Expeditions take place on randomised maps and see you travelling between nodes in an attempt to gather knowledge, fame and treasure. When encountering the inhabitants of a region – be they animal or person – the action moves to a tactical map, with a random spread of obstacles and healing areas. Many characters are more likely to impress or threaten their opponents rather than simply hitting them until they fall over, but rather than using Charm or Intimidate skills to avoid the encounter, you’ll be able to use friendly, deceptive or physical abilities during ‘combat’.

That’s because encounters don’t actually involve combat all that often. They can, if you so choose, but if you prefer to win the day using your guile or friendly, welcoming nature, that’s an option as well. Every encounter has a mood, which changes as you choose various interactions and as your opponents react with skills of their own.

On top of that, each individual participant has an emotional state that changes over time. If you insult the boss of a marauding gang, she might become enraged, causing her to defenses to drop. There is depth to the system as it can be useful to concentrate on one style of action – devious, friendly or violent – but having alternative methods available should the situation change might be helpful as well.

In between expeditions, you spend the resources you’ve gathered to conduct research, which provides buffs to your entire crew and their discoveries. There are also shops to visit and staff to recruit. Everything adds to the various stats that may help you to finish your playthrough at the top of the leaderboard (that’s a singleplayer leaderboard, packed with NPCs).

It feels like a combination of the best of Tintin and 19th century adventure fiction rolled into a smart tactical package. Everything that I wrote a year ago still applies but the finished game is expanded or improved in almost every area, and it’s a splendid antidote to the ever rolling waves of grimdark.

11 Comments

  1. Ross Angus says:

    Can I recruit Charles Darwin?

  2. Evil Pancakes says:

    Damnit, I completely forgot about this game coming out now. I’ve already spent my budget on Satellite Reign, Mad Max and MGSV. Why does everything have to come out within literal days from each other. I only have so much money and time people!

  3. Kitsunin says:

    Mm, this is quite lovely. Been playing it for an afternoon and I already want it to blow up and get a Captain’s Edition far more than I ever did with FTL.

    Saying encounters often don’t involve combat as a little untrue though. Mechanically, wishing someone a good day is almost the same as punching them in the jaw i.e. it depletes the same health pool. Still, the combat pulls being mean, nice, and stabby into a rather good system that works and is very fun (so not Spore, lol).

  4. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    What a great little game. The devs have done a very nice job of fitting all the pieces together – UI, vibe, sense of progression, sense of exploration, tactics – for a thoroughly enjoyable and polished experience. Well worth picking up and supporting these guys.

  5. subalterngames says:

    Someone actually made a imperialist simulator?! A “mystical” island full of “voodoo pirate brutes”? With the explicit purpose of extracting loot from the locals? REALLY?!?! Ugh.

  6. BuckleSwasher says:

    Why haven’t I heard of this at all until just now?

    That trailer was amazing, is this game as entertaining as it looks like it’s going to be?

  7. S Jay says:

    This looks a lot like The Curious Expedition

    • chrixian says:

      Curious Expedition has way less depth in just about every applicable comparison. (Granted, comparing a released game to one in alpha / early access isn’t exactly fair, but hey.. that’s life).

  8. Blupi says:

    It certainly looks like The Curious Expedition, altough I haven’t played any of these two games, only watched playthroughs. But I get chrixian’s words.

    What make me hugely skeptical about this game is :
    1 – the art. It’s highly non-objective but I see it at an 8 years old child’s work.
    2 but NOT the least – the really bad experience I had with Abbey Games first game : Reus.
    I loved this game : the gameplay, the art, the music, the atmosphere.. It was really refreshing. All reviews of the game were good but they missed something we can’t see when you only play the game 5+ hours to test the game : the endgame sucks ! Completely, dramatically sucks! It was awfully balanced, full of bugs about conditions of great projects, nearly unplayable for someone who was seeking achievments (I played it for 26hrs).
    So my personal experience for this game follows a path like this : an enchanted discovery, which gave the appetite to eat every piece of the game, and then a disapointment about an unfinished endgame and the fact that the devs did’nt really care to fix the bugs. In the end, the memory I kept of Reus is very bittersweet.
    The devs acknowledged that the endgame was’nt finished at release on their forums afterwards. They said the game only took its final form in reguards of some key game designs only a MONTH before release. Therefore, if the early and mid-game seemed polished, the endgame was highly overlooked by lack of time.
    I’m resentful because they had an attitude like “game’s is released, game devlopment time’s over” whereas I think the game was a a financial success. I guess they could have spent one or two months to squash all the bugs and polish the endgame. They only cared about translations, a few bug fixes yes, and they got an intern to port it on other platforms. Then they set sail to their new game, the one you’re talking today.
    So from that bad experience, I decided never to buy a game from them and I think I’ll stand the ground.

  9. Premium User Badge

    ErraticGamer says:

    Yeah, wow, the similarity to Curious Expedition is remarkable. This looks lovely, but I’m not sure I want to buy it on top of that? Hrm.

  10. jgf1123 says:

    Is there a WIT in the pipelines?