Sunday, May 5, 2013

Oregon Trail – Zombie Apocalypse Edition

For most people the phrase Oregon Trail brings back memories of a wagon train across the US complete with challenges like fording rivers, hunting for food, and fixing broken wagon wheels along the way. This old text based computer game no doubt provided hours of entertainment, and frustration to many of you as you made your journey to a better land. Well get ready for Oregon Trail with a twist; a full blown zombie apocalypse.

Organ Trail Title Screen
The game is built right on top of the old Oregon Trail game and so the sound and graphics are of the same quality, harkening back to the good old days when you could create all your games artwork in MS Paint without it taking 12 years for a single picture. For some this might be an issue, but really the graphics aren’t the reason to play this game.

The game starts off much as the original Oregon Trail did, with you preparing for your journey across the country. Rather than head to the general store to pick up the things you need for the trip, you instead start with 16 hours to scavenge items from the dead to pack into your wagon; your station wagon that is. You get to decide how much time you’d like to spend gathering food, ammunition for weapons, gas, car parts (batteries, mufflers, and tires), medical supplies, and money before you head off. Once you’re loaded up you start driving for the next landmark and the city you once lived in is nuked to clear out the zombie hordes (which is why you left)

Your course takes you southwest toward Texas, then back up northwest as you drive around large areas that have already been the subject of nuclear attacks. Along the way you can meet other survivors who will give you helpful hints and offer the chance to trade for things you need or purchase supplies.

As with the original game, as you’re driving you’ll encounter different situations you have to decide how to deal with. If you run out of food you can always stop and try to scavenge for some which has you enter a mini-game where you chase after food icons of various size as zombies pop up on screen and you shoot them with your gun. The process is surprisingly nerve racking, but can be very rewarding especially if you get a grocery cart. Illnesses naturally pop up with car members as you’re traveling which typically require you to rest in order for them to heal properly, which cuts into your food reserves quite heavily. Instead of rivers to be forded you’ll encounter hordes of zombies to try and get through along with a number of options for trying to get past them. If the crowd of walkers is not particularly aggressive you can always try to sneak through, driving really slow and hoping none of them notice. This strategy worked well for me, the first time at least. You also have the option of gunning your way through driving really fast and shooting from the windows as you go. If you prefer a less risky approach you can wait to see if the crowd eventually dissipates, or you can try and hire some mercenaries to escort you through, but this takes precious cash, a commodity you’ll want to try and preserve as long as you can to use for those vital supplies when you start to run low.

The only downside I found to the game was that the original scavenging mechanic was no longer available once you left your starting city making acquiring anything besides food on the road a challenge. As such it’s a good idea to stock up on your major expendables when you first set off (gas, money, and ammunition) to make sure you have enough to see you to the end of your trip.

While it’s really just a new twist on a really old game, I have to admit it’s surprisingly compelling. If you’d like to check it out for yourself you’ll find the game here. Organ Trail offers a source of entertainment for anyone who’s got a day to blow just hanging out in their N3rd C0rn3r.