21 November 2017
Try to survive the jungle in this beautiful and challenging co-op puzzle
Few games manage to capture the mystery, beauty and danger of the jungle as evocatively as The Lost Expedition. Inspired by Percy Fawcett’s infamous disappearance in the Amazon while searching for the so-called ‘Lost City of Z’ – a gripping tale recently brought to the cinema screen – designer Peer Sylvester translates the innumerable threats and discoveries of the rainforest to a deck of cards stunningly illustrated by comic artist Garen Ewing.
The main game mode (a competitive variant is included) involves laying down cards one at a time to represent the morning and evening journeys of three adventurers. The first round rearranges the numbered cards into ascending order, while the second keeps them in the order they are played, subtly but notably altering the strategy required each turn – especially when playing multiplayer, as companions can’t discuss their hand. The group then travels from card to card, spending or gaining food, ammunition and health as required to progress. Forward planning is a must to keep the explorers alive as long as possible – ultimately trying to advance along nine stage cards that symbolise the hunt for ‘Z’.
Each card often presents a simple but difficult decision – for example, spend food to gain expertise in a particular skill or lose health to move closer to the city. Some actions are compulsory, many decisions necessary but a few choices optional, opening up a variability and presence of skill to counterbalance the luck of drawing cards. The gameplay events thematically mirror the incidents occurring on the cards, sucking you into the atmosphere like a boggy swamp and getting under your skin like worms. Oh, god, the worms.
The Lost Expedition is a gorgeous set through-and-through, yet backs up its looks with gripping and meaningful cardplay. It plays best with smaller groups and is an ideal solo experience, with the co-op campaign the main draw but the head-to-head mode an interesting inclusion. Venture into its depths and enjoy getting lost.
Time: 30-50 minutes
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