Renowned Explorers: The Emperor's Challenge - Steam/PC Review

A renowned adventure filled with depth, cunningness and charm.

Game Info

  • System: PC (Steam)
  • Publisher: Abbey Games
  • Developer: Abbey Games
  • Release Date: May 10, 2017
  • Price:TBD [Other expansions available]
  • Rating: E
  • Genre:Rogue-Lite, Turn-Based Strategy, Tactical
  • Players:Single Player
  • Official Website:

Renowned Explorers: The Emperor's Challenge, Trailer

Who it Caters to

Developers Abbey Games may not ring a resounding bell to many out there but the latest expansion to their wonderful title, Renowned Explorers: The Emperor’s Challenge, will hopefully grab your attention. Renowned Explorers: The Emperor’s Challenge is a turn-based strategy title that incorporates a rogue-lite element into the mix, which creates a robust experience filled with plenty of challenges along the way. Anyone who fancies a more strategic approach to gaming, we would honestly suggest giving this one a try. As a reminder, this expansion requires the base game Renowned Explorers: The International Society to play so be sure to buy that first before grabbing this! There’s also the previous expansion More to Explore which you can also grab on Steam in a bundle for $24.99.

What to Expect

Unlike the more conventional style turn-based games which have players using powerful spells and summoning creatures to come to their aid, The Emperor’s Challenge instead creates a uniquely enticing experience that places emphasis on mood and your ability to alter your opponent's emotions to come out on top. You get to choose from 4 classes, all of which come with their own unique set of characters with their own unique set of characteristics. You have the Scout, Scientist, Speaker, along with the Fighter, and depending on how you form your crew there are benefits that go along with it as well. To be more succinct, this game is all about how you communicate and the outcome is solely determined on how apt you are at doing so. It’s a lot like how we as humans communicate on a daily basis, using various methods such as being devious or using our charm, and as you master these traits the easier it becomes to get around and survive. In Renowned Explorers: The Emperor’s Challenge there’s a lot to learn but as you dive deeper into it, the more rewards can be obtained and you’ll come out on top to receive the Emperors many blessings and defeat your rival Rivaleux.


One thing that we loved right off the bat was that Renowned Explorers does an exceptional job of ensuring you really understand everything that’s happening within the game. The tutorial may be long but it sure does apply the right dosage so that you don’t get overwhelmed too quickly. Choosing your crew is the fun part of the adventure because this is where your decisions really matter, since some members may complement each other while others may not provide enough perks to go forward with. Be that as it may, the game does give you a pretty detailed breakdown of each character and what they can provide, along with character suggestions that may help making a crew a lot easier. We went along with Agata, Yvonne, and Jan Piet for our first expedition and while we did manage to die very quickly due to our lack of experience, it was actually very rewarding to see just how much our decisions impact the overall flow of the game.

Once we learned our lessons we decided to start a new game and come up with a new strategy in order to stay alive and collect as much Porcelain Points as possible. As a brief explanation, winning in Renowned Explorers: The Emperor’s Challenge isn’t just about getting through your expeditions in one piece, it’s about collecting more Porcelain Points than Rivaleux to ensure victory and respect from the Emperor himself. This is where the rogue-lite foundation comes into play because, after each expedition whether it’s a fail or success, you’ll always have to start anew either with the same team you made before or creating a fresh one to test out new abilities. As you successfully complete expeditions you can unlock new characters which can then be used to assist you on the journey. This all might sound a little overbearing for some, but we assure you that once you jump in and try it for yourself it’s a lot of trial and error. The more you play everything becomes more coherent and the mistakes you made before can now be resolved through more playtime. Speaking of resolve, this is perhaps one of the most integral aspects of playing through Renowned Explorers because once your resolve is depleted, it’s game over.

Paying close attention to your supplies and resolve throughout the game is so vital because each time you embark on a new trail, your supplies get used up and there’s a risk that you could lose resolve during one of the challenges scattered throughout the expedition. So now the game becomes more tactical in that regard because you either have to decide whether to take on these challenges, or simply back away and lose a potential gain over your opponent. Each challenge you run into will be different, with each catering to a certain ability such as wit, nature, or someone athletic. Depending on your team setup some of the challenges may not even apply to you, so being very attentive as to where you go on your expedition is another charming point about Renowned Explorers.

As you progress through the game you’ll acquire many tokens that are then converted into things such as gold, or more importantly renown. Gold will of course allow you to purchase items that will help out your team and buff them in certain areas, much like a traditional RPG would do. The unique factor here is that other tokens such as your study tokens or campaign tokens can be used to create job opportunities for people, who will go out to conduct activities on your behalf and bring back hefty bonuses. Hiring certain specialists will also garner you much reward, while using your study tokens to conduct more research. For the latter you’ll need what’s called insight in order to attend big conferences and gather more points for your team with a specified crew member. All of these play a crucial role in gathering more Porcelain Points since over the course of the game, new challenges will emerge with some lasting longer than others. The ones that last longer are the ones with red ribbons attached to them, and so over the course of your journey you’ll need to gather as much as you can to ensure Rivaleux doesn’t get ahead of you.

One thing that we forgot to mention and is yet another interesting aspect about Renowned Explorers is that, there’s what’s called Campfires which allow your crew members to get to know each other and through doing so will provide a ton of bonuses to the team. Find yourself running low on resolve? Simply make sure you have a +Resolve card handy to obtain what you lost. All of the cards however are random so you’re never always guaranteed a certain perk, so making sure to staying well prepared throughout the expedition is more important than becoming reliant on the campfire. We truly loved the dialogue throughout the game, and while there were some instances of misspelling and typos, the overall flow of conversation along with being able to choose our fate through multiple options was satisfying. We were never sure of our survival and so it really made us focus heavily on making sure to collect as much as we could to come out on top. Renowned Explorers: The Emperor’s Challenge is an exceptionally unique and surprisingly entertaining title, and since this was our first time with the game the time we spent with it was well worth it.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

We can’t stress enough how rewarding this game can be, especially when you line up your ducks perfectly, which isn’t always easy but when you do it’s pleasing. With a large cast of characters to choose from the replay value never gets dull because the rogue-lite aspects reel you back in to test your wits, and see just how far you can progress without making errors. Each character brings their own wit and charm to the experience, and you can see those strengths shine best in the encounters you have. Whether you’re lecturing your enemies with Agatha, kung fu kicking your way through aggressively with Phailin, or using your beguiling ways with Yvonne, Renowned Explorers: The Emperor’s Challenge always provide a fresh approach and that gives you a genuine sense of accomplishment when everything pans out.

Honey's Pros:

  • Procedurally Generated events add the element of surprise all the time.
  • Every challenge is worth taking on because the rewards are plentiful.
  • Very unique style of play which places more attention on communication than spells to win.
  • Love the art style in the game.
  • The rogue-lite elements provide that crazy replay value, which is a huge plus.
  • New expansion comes with a wider array of characters to play with!

Honey's Cons:

  • The game may not cater to everyone due to its unique structure.
  • The 3 star battles seemed a bit too easy at times.
  • Misspelling and typos were apparent in dialogue.

Honey's Final Verdict:

Despite how the game feels and looks, Renowned Explorers: The Emperor’s Challenge is an expansion worth picking up especially if you’ve dabbled with More to Explore. If you’re new to the whole experience like we were, we still recommend giving it a shot because it will surely be worth every penny in replay value. You’ll be spending hours playing the game and not even know it, simply because you’re so immersed in the action that time no longer exists. Given the challenging aspects of the game, you’ll always be hungry for more and willing to go the extra mile to ensure your crew comes out victorious. Let us know what you think of Renowned Explorers in the comments below, and be sure to follow us on Twitch to know when Honey’s Gaming goes live with more titles! Until next time, this is Nualphajpn signing out!

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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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