We don't normally review role playing games here at Polyhedron Collider, mainly because we rarely get the chance to play them, and it's not from want of trying. But when a Beta version of Expedition came along, an app integrated RPG that's hitting Kickstarter right now, it gave us the chance to take part in the RPG experience without any of the faff.
It's the app integration that really makes Expedition work so easily. The game can be played as a traditional role playing game, where one player takes on the job of the games master; writes a story, controls the plot and creates all those role playing experiences but due to a lack of time we didn't experience this side of Expedition, instead we played the game as a cooperative experience, where the story and the decisions available is controlled by the Expedition online app.
The app can be accessed via any mobile device, and it works best with multi touch. We used an iPad and this is probably the perfect item to play Expedition on, it sits nicely in the middle of the table and has plenty of room for everyone to touch, which is important for the combat, and we'll come to that later.
At the time of writing, Expedition has two adventure modules available. We played the first, which was a very cheesy story in more ways than one. It may not have been the most in-depth and complicated adventure but it illustrated the combat and showed off the potential of the system.
As you play, the app presents you with the story in written form and offers options to the players at each stage. If you have played a Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy novel you'll get the idea and as we're in the land of Fantasy adventure of course you'll have to fight beasties and gribblies of various types.
Everyone takes the same damage which means you really have to think fast about the skill to use. If you're faced with a difficult choice or a poor hand then your indecision is going to cost the entire party which means a peer pressure comes into play, you don't want to be the player that is adding to the damage count. It's very stressful as you have to think really fast and although there's nothing stopping you conversing with your party over the best option the panic it evokes means players just yell out their actions; "I'm hitting it", "I'm healing".
Defeating foes allows you to grab loot or level up. Levelling is just as straightforward, allowing you to draw new skill cards and tweak your player deck. Loot is useful items such as weapons, scrolls and potions.
Your mileage out of Expedition is going to depend on two factors, how you're going to play the game and future support for the app. If you play Expedition as a traditional role playing game you're going to have a light and easy to play system. It lacks the depth of your typical RPG source-book and therefore lacks rules for complicated actions but as a super light RPG Expedition does everything it needs to do and does it well. To play as an RPG you're going to have to construct your own adventures but taking apart a typical game book would be an easy place to start.
If you plan to play Expedition in the cooperative mode then the future of the game is going to rely on the availability of new and more complicated adventure modules. At the moment the adventures are merely demonstrations with an hour or two of gameplay available but the potential is here for epic multi session modules.
Whether you should back Expedition on Kickstarter is going to depend on what your thoughts of the crowdfunding platform are. If you look at Kickstarter as a pre-order system and are looking for a complete game delivered to your home, then Expedition probably isn't for you. It's still in its early part of its life so there are a few rough edges that need sanding down but it currently holds great potential as a light yet frantic dual purpose RPG and cooperative adventure system.
But if you see Kickstarter as a method of funding the creation of something new and exciting then Expedition is worth getting on board with. Expedition is just beginning its journey and although it shows in a couple of places it is definitely something new and exciting.
This Kickstarter preview is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.