Renowned Explorers: International Society ReviewJustin Ling
I love treasure hunts and ancient civilizations. I love seeing the various artifacts left behind by the cities of old, and I love reading and watching adventures dedicated to finding treasures. That is why when I heard about Renowned Explorers: International Society, I knew I had to give the game a try.
Renowned Explorers: International Society is about a crew of explorers aiming not only to find treasures in faraway lands, but also to become known as the most Renowned Explorers, a title held by their chief rival Rivaleux. In order to do so, they will need to find the many treasures scattered about, from the crown of kings, to dinosaur fossils, and even exotic wildlife. As they gain more prestige, earn more money, and uncover more research, the players will get more renown, taking them even closer to their goal of being the most Renowned Explorers. Players can choose two modes of play: an easier mode where saving and loading are enabled to allow for a more relaxed form of play, or an adventurer mode that plays like a roguelike and forces players to plot carefully since one defeat ends the entire campaign.
One of the great things about this game is the replay value. The game was explicitly designed to be played multiple times, and this shows in the game mechanics. There are many treasures to find, but not all of them will show up in a single level. There are many explorers to choose from, but if you want a certain explorer as a main character, you will need to have played through a certain number of expeditions with that character as a crew member. The layout of a level will change as well, meaning players will encounter different skill challenges and different rewards.
Adding to the replay values is the wide variety of characters to play as. Each individual character specializes in a different fighting style and is built differently as well. Some prefer diplomacy and possess high speech defense but atrocious physical defense, some prefer violence and boast huge attack power at the cost of low speech defense, and many other combinations are present. The game encourages players to try out new characters in their crew through their unlock system: only a few characters can be selected as captains, and completing a certain number of expeditions with locked characters will unlock them as captains in future campaigns.
The combat system is also a very unique and interesting one. There are three different ways to approach combat: violently, deviously, and friendly. Certain encounters will provide different outcomes when resolved a certain way, and the game keeps track of which approach you take most often. The game also makes use of a mood system that affects the way characters act in combat. Certain moods strengthen a character, while others weaken a character. Smart players will need to learn how to manipulate moods to fight effectively. For instance, players may be tempted to use friendly attacks all the time to resolve a fight diplomatically, but if the friendly attack gives the enemy a mood that buffs their stats, the fight can become more difficult. Friendly attacks can heal allies, but is it worth the risk giving them a mood that makes them more vulnerabl to enemy attacks? Overall, the mood system is great for a strategy game such as this one.
However, the battle system is not perfect. While the mood system is well-implemented, the fights themselves are not always balanced. Players can only make use of three characters, and some fights stack heavy odds against characters. Players may find themselves facing several enemies at once, including powerful boss-level enemies, and reinforcements sometimes appear as well. Some of the damage can be mitigated through equipment, but equipment is expensive and players may not be able to get as much gold as they can through expeditions. The worst case scenarios pit players up against several boss-level enemies at once, though admittedly that only happens on the most difficult level. While victory is not impossible and smart planning can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, this is something that some players will definitely feel frustrated about.
The game also suffers from not having that many possible expeditions. Overall, there are only eight areas for players to explore, and players will only get to see five of those areas in one playthrough. While each area is well-crafted and provides several challenges, the game could benefit from allowing players to go on more expeditions in one playthrough and providing more levels to explore. This would definitely add to the replay value and add to the strategic value of choosing levels that best fit the skills possessed by the current crew.
While the game can be very frustrating with its battle system, Renowned Explorers: International Society is still a fun game to play. One playthrough might not last very long, but the replay value allows players to experiment with different formations and see different treasures. The aesthetics of the game are a joy to witness, and it isn't afraid to revel in some of its more ridiculous premises (such as cowing a monstrous gorilla by lecturing it like a schoolteacher or having a fourteen year old girl beat demons through magic tricks). The whole game is a charming experience, and one that I would love to see expanded upon.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.