Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game that comes from a small studio in Holland which released a game called Reus earlier this year for which it received good reviews from players and critics alike. Whether this game will be as successful remains to be seen, and we’ll try to persuade you to try it out, because we liked it a lot.
The game places you in the thrilling world of explorers who discover various hidden dig sites all over the world, while gaining fame and prestige that goes along with it. Many different obstacles and dangers await on this journey, and it’s up to you to get past them all and become the best in business.
At the start you’ll have to choose between two playing modes, Discovery and Adventure. The first one is easier and allows the player to re-try a sector in case they failed in their first try. The latter mode however is for those without fear, who play for all or nothing, because once you make a mistake, that’s the end of the line. We must also emphasize that the default game difficulty is set to ‘hard’, which we don’t encounter that often, so if you don’t want to start pulling your hair out and lingering on one mission for a long time straight away, take this into consideration when starting the game.
After this the game takes you to the Explorers’ headquarters where you get to pick out your team. Possible members are split into four categories: Scientist, Scout, Fighter and Speaker; and every category has its own advantages. Your team consists of three members, the leader and two followers. When you first play the game there won’t be many options for the leader, but you will unlock more characters as you play. The game doesn’t restrict you when it comes to building your team, so you can have three Fighters or three Scientists in your team – that’s completely up to you. Also, when choosing a character, his advantages and disadvantages will be displayed on the side, as well as whom he’s compatible with, all of which can inform your choice.
Once you’ve made your team, it’s time to start the adventure and go treasure hunting. You may choose to play a short tutorial first or you can learn while playing. Since the game mechanics are reminiscent of HoM&M and Stratego, you’ll have to pay attention to a few things while you explore. First, moving around the map is limited by food supply and every move from point A to point B has a requirement of a certain amount of food to make the journey, so you’ll have to carefully plan out every step to your mission goal. During the journey you’ll encounter many things – from food and other resources to hidden treasures and digs, or forgotten civilizations. But the road can also lead you to danger, so you can get attacked by bandits, or get discovered by a tribe that you’ve been monitoring and they don’t take kindly to your presence at all. Beside all that, there will be situations where you’ll need special skills associated to all follower classes, which will open up options for new adventures, and which will make you play the game again and again with different teams. In these situations the game will tell you which one of your team members has the best chance to complete the task, and if the success chance is less than 100%, a slot machine will appear and it will decide on whether you’re lucky and successful.
What makes this game stand out is it’s combat system. Every battle can be executed in many different ways depending on your team composition and their individual virtues. The combat is based on a so-called rock-paper-scissors system, where one style is stronger than the other, but weaker than another one and so on. The three battle styles are Aggressive, Friendly and Devious. The first one, as the name suggests, is based on pure strength and physical power. Friendly takes a completely different approach, in which your character tries to dissuade the enemy from attacking with compliments and praises – sometimes even making them an ally. And lastly Devious, with which you’ll try to enrage your opponent using insults, fear, and cunning, so that they lose themselves in anger, thus weakening them and winning the battle. Each way of winning has its advantages, and so you can befriend the bandits that are trying to rob you, while taking the risk of getting stabbed, but if you succeed they might even leave you some of the treasure that they stole from somebody else. Or maybe a little old granny can charm a huge gorilla and weaken it, while a solider attacks it from the other side with brute strength. The huge number of combinations and ways to win will make the strategist in you come out and make you really think about how to best use your team.
After each mission is completed you’ll get to see the news of your journey in the papers, as well as your current rank on the world’s greatest explorers list (you, of course, start at the bottom). Also all discoveries and treasures will be placed into your inventory, where you can spend them on further character upgrades, as well as their equipment and followers. So you can go to Berlin, where you will hold a lecture at the university and earn skill points to spend on acquiring new knowledge. Or maybe go to Stockholm to hire new followers who will give you more bonuses. Or take a trip to Moscow, where you can spend your gold and equip your team for future adventures, and therefore reach the title of the world’s greatest explorer.
The game is set in the past, and it’s well visualized with colorful cartoon graphics, that resembles a mix of The Curse of the Monkey Island and Deponia. Your team will look like marching ants while travelling on the map from point A to point B, while the battlefield will be zoomed in and divided into hexagonal fields on which you can move your characters. And the fighting itself gets zoomed further in, so you can see the actions and reactions of the two participating characters. The music and sound effects are nicely composed and it’s interesting to see that in a game where you fight using words, none of the characters actually speaks, instead the praises and insults are shown in clouds with pictures, like in a comic book.
Renowned Explorers: International Society is an excellent game, which will either impress you and make you want to play it over and over again, or it will make you pull your hair out because you can’t befriend the wolves who eat you every time you get too close. In any case, even one run is enough to see that this is a really interesting game which will drive you to think and explore while having fun.
Author: Ivan Danojlić