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One of the more in-depth strategy games of late, Renowned Explorers: International Society on the surface seems like a straightforward concept where you pick your captain and two followers to travel the world in search of fame and riches. How you choose to approach this mission though is completely up to you. Will you use brute force to carve your way or will you instead use charm or even intimidation to achieve your goals? It’s really up to you.
When it comes to who you include in your explorer party there really are plenty of options to choose from, so finding a team which suits your playing style should be easy while at the same time the variety of the characters means that you’re likely to experiment with different party members. Of course choosing just three is no easy task especially when the game comes with a colourful cast of characters, such as the burly Russian Ivan Dashkov, the masked Mexican wrestler Dolores Garcia or the electricity-loving scientist Anna Proskurivkova who fights with a cattle-prod. The roster is also broken into the categories of Scientists, Fighters, Scouts and Speakers, so it’s easy to build a balanced party to match your playing style. With each of the characters coming with their own strengths and skills, each can be utilised to help the party on their quest.
So once you’ve assembled your team and actually get out into the world map, the real fun of the game begins as you start in a randomly-selected location for your first quest but from here it’s really up to you to choose where you go next with each completed location opening up multiple paths of where you travel to next, giving you a real sense of freedom while the variety of locations really keeps things interesting. You can go from searching for lost Viking treasure in the Scottish Highlands to battling Mummies in Egypt or trekking through Jungles looking for Aztec treasure.
Where the game gets more complex is in the options available for your character evolution as they are numerous to say the least as you can spend gold to buy new and better equipment, invest in research or even try and gain additional influence to add additional bonuses to your actions during missions. At first, this can all seem a little overwhelming but fear not as something the game has in spades is Tutorials. In fact, when you first start the game it will seem that you can’t do anything without a tutorial popping up. Thankfully, there is an option to just skip them, which is certainly a plus for multiple playthroughs.
The main meat of the game comes with your expeditions, which see your party venturing around different points of the map with each location offering something, be it treasure, research or an encounter and you have to not only decide which path best suits your own goals but the abilities of your group as certain events will be made easier by character skill sets. At the same time your moves are limited by the supplies you have with each move costing you one supply token and while there are occasionally locations which will appear to replenish these supplies they do frustratingly appear to infrequently to rely on. This has the knock-on effect of making what would seem like huge areas to explore seem smaller as you have to give up on exploring half of it to ensure you make it to your destination before your supplies run out.
What truly makes this game stand out though is its unique combat system, which requires you to adapt to the mood of the situation with aggression beating friendly, which in-turn beats humilated, which in the end is powerful against aggression. As such, you can choose not only to hit your opponent but also intimidate them or just charm them into submission. It really brings something new to the table than just being another hack and slash strategy game. It’s unquestionably amusing to see characters trading thumbs up and using the powers of seduction to send their enemies fleeing. Yes you can of course just wade in fists flying but the successful player will be the one able to work the battlefield mood to their advantage.
As of the time of writing the game has also recently been updated with the “Emperor’s Challenge” DLC which not only adds new locations but an additional four characters to the already colourful roster. The DLC also enables you to play the titular “Emperor’s Challenge” where you must once more compete with your rival explorer Rivaleux to complete a variety of objectives for emperor Guangxu of China with the one who completes the most objectives winning.
With the wealth of options available to the player it can seem baffling when you first start, but this is a game that is certainly easy to pick up but difficult to master while the unique 18th century setting calls back the likes of Phileas Fog makes for an enjoyable world to get lost in. For strategy fans wanting something different this is a title certainly worth discovering for yourself.
Game description: Renowned Explorers: International Society is a globe trekking strategy game that heads back to the golden era of explorers as you battle with your fellow explorers to become the most renowned explorer in the International society.