Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Renowned Explorers [official site] is the game that isn’t The Curious Expedition. Both games involve gangs of adventurers searching for treasure and fame in far-flung lands, and both have a distinct whiff of British imperialism and derring-do about them, though neither was developed in England. Where The Curious Expedition allows you to flatten entire regions with explosives and dark magic, Renowned Explorers is all about the power of friendship and good humour. Or at least, it can be.
In a just world, this game would have found a huge audience and plenty of critics willing to write opinion pieces about its wonderfully inventive and thoughtful combat system. I should call it an encounter system really because fisticuffs and firefights are rarely (if ever) necessary. Encounters are all about controlling the mood of your party and the creatures or people that they come into contact with. You might be able to befriend a bully or embarrass an assailant.
As well as providing non-violent solutions, this system allows for a diverse set of skills and a pleasing back-and-forth during encounters, which often demand careful attention to the knock-on effects of any changes to the overall mood. Irritate somebody too much and all the charm in the world won’t go very far, whereas if you attempt to mollify a furious villain and make no progress, you might have weakened your own hand when it comes to threats and bluster.
It’s a splendid game, full of flavour and colour, and made all the better by a recent expansion.