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Organ Trail Review

review by Malero on April 15, 2013, 4:30 p.m.
Organ Trail Game Review Released

Organ Trail is a remake of the popular 1980's game, Oregon Trail. Instead of early 19th century pioneers traveling across the continent in pursuit of land and new opportunities, players try to survive the journey to “Safe Haven” amidst a zombie apocalypse. Shortly after starting the game, you meet someone that tells you about a safe haven on the west coast, and that's where your adventure begins.

If you like zombie survival games and/or enjoyed Oregon Trail, you'll surely love Organ Trail. The game contains many references to zombie pop culture and, of course, to the original game.

7.5 Gameplay

Survival

Organ Trail Map Thumnail

The primary goal of this game is to stay alive so that you can reach your destination. There are quite a few components to Organ Trail that will test your ability to construct a solid strategy and make some quick mouse movements. If you fail, you lose everything and will have to start a new game. Games usually last anywhere between one to four hours depending on the difficulty you chose and the amount of time you spend scavenging, looking for people to trade with and completing tasks from the job board.

Balancing Resources

Scavenging For Groceries Thumbnail

There are a number of items in Organ Trail that you will need to manage. To keep you and your friends alive, you will need bullets, food and medkits. To keep the Wagon rolling, you will need scraps, batteries, tires, mufflers and fuel. Money also has maintained it's value somehow. You can use money to purchase necessary items. The prices of items are never the same in each place you stop, so make sure to keep an eye out for people trying to rip you off. You can sell items to get more money and you can also find money when scavenging.

Organ Trail Trading System Thumbnail

Some areas won't have what you need for sale, so you will have to find someone to trade with. This usually means waiting a day or two for new people to show up. Every action in the game that takes time will slowly deplete your food stores, making it crucial for you to maintain a steady supply. Resting also requires food and will heal your friends by doing so, but for some reason it will not heal you. For that you will have to use medkits.

Traveling

Bad Pluck Thumbnail

Traveling tests your strategy of balancing your vehicles components. Random events like getting a flat tire, a thief stealing your muffler or using batteries in ways they were not designed for will remove one unit of that item from your supply. If you're unlucky and have two or more events that remove/destroy the same item, you will have to set up camp and wait for someone to trade with. Fuel is an easier resource to manage, but random events can effect it as well. Before leaving for your next destination, it's a good idea to check your fuel level and the distance you will need to travel to get there.

Scavenging (Combat Mini-Game 1)

Boss Fight Thumbnail

Scavenging is a very fun part of Organ Trail. You leave the safety of your camp and go out exploring alone with a rifle in an effort to find food, scraps, bullets and money. There are a few combat training techniques that make other items available while you're scavenging, such as medkits. The combat system is a lot of fun once you get used to it. To shoot your gun, you have to aim the gun by clicking on the enemy you want to shoot and then drag your mouse towards your character and let go. The longer you drag towards your character, the more precise the shot will be. After playing for a while, you will get quite good at aiming and you won't have to drag your mouse as far. The less dragging you have to do, the more zombies you can take down.

Low Zombie Activity Thumbnail

One important strategy of scavenging to keep in mind is the zombie activity in the area. Unless you have combat upgrades that allow you to take on hordes of zombies, we suggest you only scavenge on low and medium zombie activity levels. When you sleep, repair your car, or wait for people to trade with, time passes and zombie levels will change as a result, so be sure to check the status again after completing a task that consumes time.

Shootouts (Combat Mini-Game 2)

Shootout Thumbnail

Shootouts are a little harder to get used to than scavenging. While you're outnumbered just like scavenging, your enemies are equipped with guns as well. It's also in a different layout. You're taking cover behind a small wall and the objective is stand up and shoot all of the bandits in the windows. The hard part about this mini-game is that they also take cover. There's not much room for error, so you have to time your shots almost perfectly while trying to dodge enemy fire.

Biker Gangs (Combat Mini-Game 3)

Biker Gang vs. The Wagon Thumbnail

Fighting off biker gangs is the easiest of the mini-games. The bikers will try to ride up next to you and shoot you. Their bullets do a pretty hefty amount of damage to the Wagon, so you need to ram into them with the side of the Wagon before they shoot.

7.0 Graphics

Clements Has Dysentery Thumbnail

The graphics in this game are similar to those in Oregon Trail. If you haven't played it, you may not be able to appreciate and enjoy the graphics as much as those who have. Organ Trail also has city and landmark art that is really quite good. The developers were obviously hoping to emulate the visuals in the game's predecessor and they succeeded in achieving that effect.

3.5 Character Customization

Upgrading The Wagon & Combat Training

Car Upgrades Thumbnail

While making your way to the Safe Haven, you will stop by many cities and landmarks that have a combat trainer or an auto shop that will sell you upgrades. The upgrades that are made available to you seem to be completely random, so there's not too much strategy involved in selecting them. With that in mind, take what you can get. It's important to note that if you already have a fully upgraded wagon or all three combat technique slots full, purchasing something new will over-write one of your current upgrades and you will not be able to get them back unless you find another auto shop or trainer that offers them.

Upgrading The Wagon

Air Freshener Car Upgrade - No Thanks Thumbnail

There are five upgrade slots on the wagon: Front, Misc., Top, Back and Bottom. Auto shops sell upgrades for you to install on your wagon. While they are one of the more expensive items in the game, they're still easily obtainable if you spend a little extra time scavenging. The wagon upgrades didn't excite me as much as I'd hoped on my first play-through. I was cursed with the Air Freshener upgrade at every auto-shop and it wasn't all that appealing to me.

Combat Training

Combat Upgrades: Faster Bullets Thumbnail

There are 3 combat technique slots. While there are fewer slots to upgrade than the wagon, the combat techniques seem to be much more beneficial. Upgrades such as a 50% faster reload speed or the ability to find medkits when you are scavenging seem to make a huge difference in your survivability.

6.0 Replay Value

Short Play Sessions, Never The Exact Same Game Twice

The beauty of games like Organ Trail is that you feel like you gain something from each play through. You get a little better at scavenging, you learn a new strategy, you memorize the prices of resources, etc. The game continues to be fun until you feel like you've mastered it. Unfortunately it's too easy to master zombie killing in the scavenge mode, which makes it too lucrative and therefore game breaking. While there is a limit (mainly ammo supply) to how much you can scavenge each time you stop, the amount of food you can gather and sell allows you to easily stock up on everything else you need.

Leaderboards

Score Screen Thumbnail

If you're the competitive type, you may enjoy competing against other players with Organ Trail's leaderboard system. After you're done with a game, it tallies up your score based on the number of survivors, resources you had remaining and the condition of the Wagon.

1.5 Story/Setting

WARNING: This Portion of the Review Contains Spoilers

No Time To Think Why, Just Go!

The story of Organ Trail is pretty simple: zombies are taking over and there's a Safe Haven on the west coast which you're attempting to reach. The story starts out in Independence, Missouri (like Oregon Trail) which is thousands of miles away from the Safe Haven. For reasons unknown, you feel compelled to get there. The worst part is the means by which you discover the Safe Haven. Towards the start of the game, you meet an old man named Clements who somehow knows the whereabouts of your friends and tells you that he will help you find them. He then convinces you to take a station wagon and drive to a shelter in Washington D.C. where he claims your friends are. When you arrive, your friends are there, but the shelter has been overrun by zombies. Clements helps you escape and and then with this one simple statement, makes you want to travel 4,000+ miles in a zombie apocalypse: "I heard there was a Safe Haven on the west coast".

Who is Clements? How did he know where your friends were? How does he know that Safe Haven is actually safe? Out of all of the vehicles to hijack, he points to an old station wagon. Other than his disturbingly inexplicable knowledge of your friends whereabouts, his advice doesn't seem to be all that helpful and your reasons for following remain a mystery.

In the end, it's not important that the story doesn't make sense. The funny dialogue and events that transpire throughout your journey that give the “story” it's few merits. If you haven't played the original, or haven't seen many zombie movies, you may not get some of the references which make the events, art and dialogue which give Organ Trail much of its charm.

9.0 Bang For Your Buck

The game costs about $5 on Steam and I've gotten over 10 hours of gameplay from it. Each games takes anywhere from one to four hours to complete depending on the difficulty you choose.

7.0 Overall Score

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