Have You Played… The Curious Expedition?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Select an explorer, form a team, and go on an adventure in a distant, procedurally generated land in search of treasure. Make it back alive and achieve fame and glory, or die alone in some hostile wasteland. Either way, The Curious Expedition will give you a story to tell.

Remember that time I woke up to find one of our party members being attacked by our dog and, when he wanted revenge, I refused? He died the next day. Remember when the local tribesman we invited to travel with us turned into an abomination in that cave, yet remained mostly friendly for the rest of the journey?

This is, increasingly, what I want out of games: anecdotes. Little nuggets of story I can tell other people and tell myself. It’s better if they come from a game that doesn’t have a pre-scripted story of its own, and it’s best if I can extract those morsels in an hour or less. They give the time I spend playing a game structure and value long after I’ve stopped.

Curious Expedition is particularly great at it. The decisions you’re making, about where to move, what to carry, who to take in your group – a clergyman who increases fortitude but is a bit racist, or a trader who reduces prices at stores but can’t help and steal things – all domino together to shape your encounters.

Those encounters will be with native tribes and travelling salesman, but also frightening things in dark caves, mystical things in dark tombs, and consequences don’t just affect you but re-shape the entire land. Causing a dozen new mountains to grow and block your chosen path, for example.

It’s a great game, and in a year with Civilization 6 and XCOM 2, my favourite turn-based game of 2016. Read Adam’s review for more.


  1. GeoX says:

    I dunno. I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did. Everything’s so constrained and random (yet repetitive) that there never really feels like there was that much strategy. Also, character cracked and became cannibals WAY more frequently (and with far less provocation) than I feel like is especially plausible. I can’t say I really got many of these vaunted “stories” out of it.

    Still, it’s short enough that it can be fun to play a quick round now and again.

  2. Shiloh says:

    I have (and recently) but didn’t really enjoy it all that much, emergent stories notwithstanding. In fact, I much preferred Renowned Explorers’ take on it – not just because of the graphics (which as well know “don’t make a game”) but also the combat.

    In RE, you feel like you can work out a strategy and win through (picking on weak enemies and making them cry, for example), whereas with CE it just felt random all the time, and a bit opaque – just keep chucking dynamite at the tiger till it dies.

  3. Safari Ken says:

    I liked Curious Expedition okay, but not as much as I wanted to. I like the premise a lot, but haven’t played it since Renowned Explorers: International Society came out.

  4. second_hand_virgin says:

    A nice coffee break game but a bit too easy (finished first on second playthrough) and quickly becomes boringly repetitive. Better than X-Com2? Doh. But it could be fun on mobile devices.

  5. Neurotic says:

    I’ll be another voice chiming in for RE, although I wouldn’t mind giving this a punt too, one day. RE is just so damn good though.

  6. AmazingPotato says:

    It’s a lot easier now than it used to be, but to be honest I’m quite happy about that because it used to be bloody SOLID. I do agree though that the crazy stuff (like cannibalism) is a little too repetitive. Bonus points, however, for the full, finished game keeping in those goofy giant face statues.