Renowned Explorers: International Society, released 2nd September 2015, is an adventure-strategy game set in a fictitious 19th century.
You play as a budding explorer who aims climb the ranks of a group known as the Renowned Explorers, and become the most renowned explorer among them all.You can gain renown in different ways such as: writing scientific papers and doing jobs in different cities (i.e. campaigning/giving lectures). The main source of your renown is from expeditions with increasing difficulty. Renown is gained at the end of your expedition ranging from: finding secrets, treasures, making scientific discoveries, collecting status and successfully winning an encounter.
To begin your adventure, you first need to create your crew composed of three different members. Choose your members carefully as they have different personalities which will make them better suited to a certain play-style, and have different skill-sets which will make them better suited to certain challenges. For example, if you have Victor Signac as your captain or crew member, his personality is best suited to either friendly or aggressive play-style. Victor has tactician training due to his military background but can also work as a diplomat if needed, so if you find those challenges, you’ll have a higher chance of passing those challenges.
In renowned explorers, you can resolve conflict by either being aggressive, friendly or devious. Aggressive equals physical attack influence by attack power. Friendly is convincing the opponent that your cause is the best, by influencing their state of mind. Devious is all about breaking your opponent’s mind by using insults, taunts or humiliation (speech). The effectiveness of friendly and devious skills is influence by the member’s speech power, instead of attack power. Resolving conflicts with a certain attitude can influence what rewards you get.
These three having a ‘rock-paper-scissors’ relationship: Devious beat aggressive. Friendly beat Devious. Aggressive beat Friendly. Enemies will typically have a predominant personality or become more dangerous when the mood becomes a certain state. Your preferred method of attack will influence the ‘mood’ of the battle. Players need to pay attention to the mood of the battle, as depending on the mood, it can either give your crew and enemies positive or negative effects. It is recommended to influence the mood to give you the advantage, such as influencing the mood to become positive (friendly) allowing your aggressive attack to deal extra damage.
As you progress further into the game, you will build a reputation based on your dominant play-style and what you believe is more important. In my first play through (with Victor as the captain), I resolved most conflicts by being aggressive and often amassed a large amount of gold, which lead to Victor having the reputation as a ‘Tyrant Tycoon’ where “whispers of your aggressive attitude and riches spread quickly”. I always found this odd considering I always collected more research compared to gold, so I am not entirely sure how I became a tycoon. My second play through with a different captain, lead to her gaining the reputation as a ‘Sly Scholar’ as the team often resolved conflicts with a devious attitude and I answered the druid at the beginning that I was all about scientific discoveries.
Now on expeditions, you can choose to explore up to at least four exotic locations before taking on a last expedition. The expeditions will increase in difficulty before leading to the two final locations as your last expedition prior to the explorers’ ceremony. The last expedition acts final push to be the greatest explorer, taking over the spot that once belonged to your rival, who coincidentally is named “Rivaleux”.
Also, screw that guy.
As you travel between the nodes on the map, you will collect resource tokens: gold, status, research, treasures, secrets and status. Some of the nodes may give you special challenges such as technique, wits, nature and cultural or give you a special event unique to the expedition itself. You have limited supplies which you need to reach your goal while trying to amass as many of the other resource tokens as you can. However, you can restock on supplies if you find a trader or nodes with supplies marked on them. You can increase the number of supplies by either writing papers or unlocking barterers in your entourage hall. Running out of supplies will have an adverse effect on your team the longer you go on without supplies.
Expeditions are split into two parts: passing challenges and events while travelling between nodes on the map, and combat. The expedition map is covered in fog of war, revealing more as you move to the next node. Exploration and combat terrain is always procedurally generated, so you never know what is around the next corner. Both the combat arena and the expedition world map appears as a hex grid.
There are times where combat is unavoidable. In combat, you can use the terrain to aid you with its natural choke-points and healing zones. To be honest, I did not even realize there was healing zones. I always saw there was specific areas that were highlighted in gold which I assume where healing zones. My bad.
Once you finish the expedition, the game will take into account of everything you amassed before giving you a final amount of renown you have earned. Afterwards, you go back in the world map where you can spend your insight points on jobs in the cities. These jobs will help give you extra renown, helping you climb further on the ranks and earn extra status, gold and research points. You can use status to upgrade entourage halls or use them to gain perks from specialists or hire helpers which increase your resource tokens at the end of expeditions. Research points are used to unlock new research branches and to write research papers. Each branch will aid you in your quest, such as helping you advance through research quicker, aiding you in become renowned through a specific resource (i.e. status).
Renowned Explorers is a rogue-lite game, meaning it has to be played many times to unlock every achievement possible and to learn how to use the combat system to your advantage. I would love to try to get all the achievements, but considering I take nearly an entire day for each run due to my tendency to try get as much resources as I can before going for the actual goal. I think my first run took me about two days. The second run took me about a day but was much harder since I was trying to resolve all conflicts with devious attitude.
Overall, I really enjoyed Renowned Explorers but it is not a game I am going to heavily invest my time in. It did take me a while to get the gist of the combat system, but I still have not fully mastered it. The combat system is surprisingly more complex than I initially thought. Aggressive play-style is so much easier since you’re just using brute force. I did enjoy the second run using devious, but damn, it was challenging at times. I am dreading on how my third run, with the challenge to resolve all battles as friendly will go.
I still think the last battle, if you chose the expedition where you meet Rivaleux at the end, is incredibly difficult, even with all the keys. The battle always takes more than a few minutes (to me anyway) before securing victory as mine. It is the only battle that has me the most tense and intense concentration. I do enjoy that when you beat the game, you can continue with your team on marathon mode to explore the places you missed out on. It was my favorite aspect of the game actually. If you enjoy rouge-lite, strategy or adventure games then Renowned Explorers is right up your alley.