Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Organ Trail: Director's Cut

Organ Trail is a re-imagining of the classic, retro title known as Oregon Trail. Chances are, you know what Oregon Trail is. TO CAULK OR TO FORD?

Well, caulk and ford is sort of here, too, in Organ Trail, but instead you have to cross hordes of zombies. You can either fight your way through or go into stealth mode. Not as cool as caulking and fording, but still a good way to add the 'rivers' from the original game and stick with the theme, which, yes, is zombies.

We all love zombies, apparently. Zombies, zombies, zombies.

Well, the good thing is that this isn't an incredibly rushed, amateur iOS title that attempts to suck out your money with the lure of the undead. Instead, it is a fairly well put together port of the original PC version, and provides an experience full of retro charm, dark humor, and a few (decent) minigames. The controls are a tad awkward, though.

I found myself playing it more often then other iOS games. Just like the original Oregon Trail, you will most likely fail your first few times. It makes you want to play again, in an attempt to win or get further than you did the last time you played. This is a fairly simple way to keep people playing, but it works, and I didn't feel as if the game became a sort of 'chore'.

You will find yourself figuring out how things work. You'll only scavenge when the activity is low and you'll value supplies previously  deemed worthless. You will trade more often, in search of good deals. You will always check for car upgrades in each town and landmark, looking for something useful to upgrade your station wagon with. For a retro-styled 'parody' of an old simulation game, it can be surprisingly strategic.



Your party members can get infected, which means you are most likely going to have put them down. I'm also pretty sure the game has a built in mechanism that causes you to become infected around halfway through the game, but only if you kill all your fellow survivors. Just assuming this, as with a car upgrade specifically made to prevent zombies from biting your party members, I still got infected when I reached the west.

May have just been bad luck, or could it be a super secret, evil ploy by the developers to remove the incredible advantage to killing off your party at the start of the game?!

Probably not.

Also, speaking of that specific advantage, there is no reason to not kill off your party. Why? Well, its rather simple. Let me list off some of the reasons why you aren't really punished for getting rid of the in-game leeches that you for some reason are required to take with you.

-The less people alive, the less food you will lose per hour. With one survivor, that one being you, you will only use up 3 ounces of food per hour, if on 'large rationing'. With all party members alive, and on 'medium rationing', you will use up 10 ounces of food per hour.

-Your party members do NOTHING for you. You can't send them to go scavenge, you can't assign them to different roles, you can literally do NOTHING with them. Their only purpose is to offer you a few extra lives during the final minigame when you reach the safe haven.

As you can see, there is no disadvantage to offing your 'friends'. They are literally food-eating leeches that follow you around for the entirety of the game. Better to spend the four bullets needed to kill them, if you want to play this game as strategically as possible.



The soundtrack is fantastic, as well. If you like retro-styled tunes, you are going to love this game. The music is absolutely wonderful.

I generally felt myself getting sick of the most common minigames after playing them a few times. Scavenging can be frustrating due to the awkward controls and I feel as if it would be better to be using WASD or the arrow keys for the minigames that involve navigating your car through various hazards. Plus, they all get redundant after a while. They're really simple and can be mastered easily. You'll find yourself bored of them after playing the game for a while.

The loading times are frustratingly long. For some reason, a game composed of very simple 8-bit graphics can take a whole minute to load up. I do not know if the expansion pack fixes this, as I have not purchased it, yet. This may be just me, but my loading times are horrendous. You may have the same issue, you may not.

If you like Oregon Trail, retro graphics, and zombies, this is the game for you. If you don't, welp, this probably wasn't made for you in the first place.

It has a few flaws, but is overall a well-made port for iOS.

Pros:
-Well ported
-Retro Charm
-Well done twist on the Oregon Trail concept
-Easy to pick up and play, yet can be extremely difficult
-Fantastic Soundtrack

Cons:
-Unusually long load times
-Awkward minigame controls
-No reason to not off your party members


Find it on iTunes

Developer: The Men Who Wear Many Hats LLC

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