In the fictional 19th century the unexplored lands of the world are filled with dangerous creatures, rude natives and killer sheep. But for the bravest of explorers there are also many treasures to be found! Can you and your intrepid team brave the voodoo apes, the hillbilly highlanders and the gun toting pirates to find enough treasures to become the world's most renowned explorer? And will you fight, charm or talk your way out of sticky situations?
Your adventure begins with the careful selection of your three man/woman crew. At first you only have four captains available, one from each of the categories (charm, aggression, intelligence and speed). Each captain has two team members that they work well with and a fighting style they prefer, or you can mix and match. I first started out with the cold-hearted scientist, the fleet footed archer and the manly luchador (luchadora if it’s a woman?). Once you have your team you set out on your first mission; to find an intact viking ship known to be somewhere in the Highlands. Side note: I assume these highlands are in Scotland but all the natives are flannel wearing lumberjacks so maybe it’s the highlands of hipster island, I have no idea.
A brief tutorial teaches you the basics which I recommend reading, rather than skipping it and having no idea what you’re doing, dying and having to go back and read it anyway (suggestion not from personal experience). Once you find the viking ship you discover that you are not the first ones there! The French explorer Rivaleaux has arrived at the same time and informs you that he's hijacking your ship so he can keep his title of the #1 explorer in the world. You of course resist so he sends in his strong man Tommy to convince you, initiating the first boss fight of the game. As you return to town without a ship you vow to make Rivaleaux pay! the yearly explorers convention is coming up where they crown the world's best explorer and this year that will be you! You now have four remaining expeditions to build your fame before the convention.
On each mission you have a specific amount of supplies which dictates how many moves around the map you can make. Each point on the map has the chance for you to gain resources; science from researching cool things, status from gaining an entourage or fame, gold, or military points from fighting encounters. Each of these resources will boost your fame and help you become a renowned explorer. Should you run out of supplies, bad things start to happen like one of your crew members gets grumpy and stops speaking resulting in a decrease to their speaking attacks.
Combat is may favorite part of this game! It’s a rock paper scissors style where you can either fight, charm or insult your enemies. My first team specialized in devious fights so I slung insults all over the place until my enemies were so terrified of my eclectic crew that they fled. I may have implied that their mother was a hamster and their father smelt of elderberries or something like that.
Each mob starts the encounter using a specific style; the sheep come in all cute and charming, the voodoo apes are aggressive etc. You then chose how you will counter them with each style granting you bonuses or debuffs depending on what emotions and fighting styles are in play. You can take the advantage against an aggressive opponent by being devious and scaring the bejeebies out of them and gaining a significant increase to your speaking attacks. If you come out looking all cute and charming though you lose a significant amount of armor. Some encounters will reward you with extra resources if you use a specific fighting style and you can change your tactic halfway through by changing which types of moves you use. Confuses the heck out of your opponents.
On the flip side your opponents might suddenly switch tactics as well, blindsiding you. Each character can use charming, devious or aggressive moves but are, of course stronger with a specific style based on their stats. All together is creates a complicated and funny turn based strategy combat system.
Once back in town planning your next expedition the games gets even more complicated. Those resources you collected can be used to purchase equipment, gain followers who increase the resources you pick up on expeditions or research that goes towards giving you certain advantages. The more you travel, the more shops and baths become available to you allowing you access to better gear and followers. Each treasure you gain gives you insight that can be spent at the universities and on the world stage to gain even more resources depending on what character you use. Needless to say, this game takes some learning and multiple play throughs to get even close to beating Rivaleaux.
At first I was disappointed with how short the game was but after selecting different teams and trying new routes I discovered new story lines on each of the maps. It does get a little repetitive though and I would have liked to see more levels available. The game lost some of it’s charm when I found myself just clicking through the dialogue boxes because I had already read them.
My one word of caution: this game is hard!! My first play through I managed to get all the way to the end and I was only a few points shy of beating my rival. I thought “this game is easy, this game is awesome, I’m awesome at playing strategy games ha ha ha”. I then went on to systematically die in my next five play throughs! This game is challenging, it’s meant to be challenging but the funny comic style and light-hearted story kept me from getting too mad at it. It’s hard to rage quit when you just got trounced by fluffy sheep. Though the titan ape who kicked my behind repeatedly made me feel the need to go try to conquer Europe in Civilization 5 for a while.
Overall this game is both challenging and eccentric. And other than the length I can find no fault with it, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. One day I will beat Rivaleaux, get that boat back and sail around plundering villages in my vintage Viking ship! The hipsters will be so proud!
Article by Breanna