STAFF REVIEW of Curious Expedition 2 (Xbox One)


Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
by Peggy Doyle

Curious Expedition 2 Box art Curious Expedition 2 starts with you sailing the seas, looking for something - Fame? Fortune? In the distance you spot land, an island that you hope will provide you and your crew some safety from the storm you are about to face. Shortly after you dock and start to take a few steps to explore, you are met by locals who take you back to their settlement. You use this opportunity to start building a good relationship with them, and when you leave you have one of their tribe along with you to help you in your expedition.

The world has a hand drawn story book style that pairs well with the roguelike structure. The charm of the graphic choice, along with the narrative driven exploration finds a good balance for the gameplay. I didn’t play the original so I was concerned that I would be at a slight loss of how to approach this sequel of the 2016 original game, however I found myself feeling quite familiar with the controls in the game quickly. That being said, there is a lot thrown at you at the beginning, so I would recommend that you play the tutorial. It gives some good advice and guidelines to help aid you in your experience.

Assuming you follow the story, you’ll find an unusual monument. Despite the warnings the islander gives you, you decide to mess with it, and it has a disastrous consequence of triggering an event that wipes the island off the map. Since this is one of the first things you can do in the game, I was really confused as to where the story was going as I destroyed a massive section of the map. In true video game fashion though, you manage to outrun the disaster and escape on your ship. Congratulations, you’ve basically finished the tutorial section of the game. Now you’re tossed into the main game of Curious Expedition 2, alone and without any real guidance.




At this point you can assemble your own crew, recruiting and rebalancing as you earn the ability to. Your choices of crew can span from hunter, chef, sailor, soldier, shaman, to dog, donkey, and even a dinosaur? Characters will have different skills and abilities so choose wisely. The longer they are with you the more you can upgrade them as well. Each will also have their own strengths and fears. I didn’t think about this too much until I had one crew member threaten to leave because he had a fear of heights, and we were of course traversing mountain terrain. He was able to be bribed with additional loot though.

You have to weigh your crew perks with each expedition. Sometimes it really pays to have a chef to cook meat you get from killing animals, or a local shaman who will give boosts when consuming local plants and animals. When preparing for an expedition you can also choose to align with clubs to assist you. These are basically the guilds you can align with. As you earn XP for the guild you choose, you can open rewards from them. Each expedition allows you to pick what club you want to align with, each having different pros and cons to them as well, so you can earn XP in multiple clubs. You also don’t have to pick one and stay with it. Mixing and matching your crew and your clubs mean that there are a lot of options as to how you approach your expeditions. Despite the cartoon aesthetic and simple UI, there was a lot to uncover in Curious Expedition 2.


Planning your crews’ movements is a functioning economy, balancing your sanity, supplies and water. You need to determine what sacrifices you may have to make if you want to explore that distant temple. I found the system a bit complicated at first, and unbalanced, but eventually become more comfortable navigating it, becoming more confident in my long movements and locating and using villages and oasis for rest and respite. As to explore the islands you will find many obstacles that impede your progress, from mosquitos, elephants, poisonous plants and even a tribe of lizard men. There are many dangers out there. Along with having to manage your crew and supplies, there is also a bit of ‘karma’ to the game. You have a reputation. As you do things, like help tribes, you can increase your good reputation. This will earn you greater discounts and additional perks and bonuses while trading or bartering for example. The worse your reputation is, the harder things will be for you in most situations.

You need to manage and use your supplies accordingly. When exploring, travelling uses up your sanity, needing a certain amount to start each move on the map. This is functionally your stamina. I shouldn’t really need to explain what happens when you run out of sanity, but I’ll just say some bad things happen. In order to manage your sanity levels, you want to move across the island in as few moves as possible. Of course, you can increase your sanity when having additional supplies like whisky and chocolate (I feel like this spoke to me on a personal level).

My biggest issue with Curious Expedition 2 was the combat. I’m already not a huge fan of turn-based combat but can easily manage a game if the combat is intuitive. Here though it felt unnecessarily complicated. You have a roll dice during your turn to determine what moves you can make. This meant that sometimes you’d only have 1 or 2 options to attack, you may have only healing or defence options, or even some blank dice. This mechanic felt like it added a layer that did nothing to add to the game, only managing to slow it down. Despite this, I enjoyed the expeditions enough, and was pretty invested in my characters who all developed their own relationships and traits in game as well. Two fell in love, a few robbed me and ran away, some went ‘missing’ around the same time others were miraculously no longer hungry – this happened to both human and animal companions. Some simply wandered off and died. When I failed missions, I’d think about what I could have done differently and try again, either with a different crew or just with a different strategy in mind. There were so many ways to play. Your dice rolls also come into play during certain dialogue sequences and events where you must roll a particular combination to be successful. This could be something like persuasive language or bartering. With the game being mostly open but still quite structured, I would have liked to see an optional sandbox mode for the game.






One thing I would like to mention is the portrayal of Indigenous cultures in the game. There has been some talk about how they are portrayed, which is fairly stereotypical in my opinion. You can choose to help or take advantage of them. You can loot their temples and shrines, or simply explore and leave them be. It’s true that colonization and exploration have historically been truly horrific towards Indigenous cultures, but I don’t think this game takes liberties and makes any of them behave in a way that is played for laughs. It is fictional, a game, and I didn’t see anything blatantly abhorrent or celebratory in actions taken here.

There is no doubt in my mind that Curious Expedition 2 plays to the romanticized and nostalgic notion of early travel and exploration, the one we read about in books or see played out on screens. You travel and discover exotic locales, find treasure and choose whether to rob ancient temples. What it doesn’t do is sugar coat everything as movies tend to. People die. You may barter away or eat your dog companion. Your crew may kill one another (and possibly eat them). You may get robbed. You may die alone in the wilderness. Happy endings are actually really hard to come by.

Curious Expedition 2 has a really great ‘choose your own adventure’ vibe to it. Although not a fan or the combat in the game, it intrigued me enough to keep playing for many hours and I can see myself going back to play more of it in the near future.

**Curious Expedition 2 was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**




Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

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