Posted: November 25, 2013
The Men Who Wear Many Hats originally created Organ Trail as a flash game and after some fund raising they were able to release an expanded version of their original title on mobile devices and now PC. Organ Trail takes it's primary inspiration from the original Apple II iteration of The Oregon Trail and opens with your character encountering Clement, a fellow survivor who kick-starts your odyssey across a post apocalyptic United States. Much like the game it parodies, Organ Trail is about balance. You will need to ensure that your party is fed, rested and your car in tip top mechanical condition. With every mile that ticks by your parties health degrades as well as your trusty station wagon. Injury and disease are common occurrences on the road as evidenced by the many tombstones that can be encountered on your journey. These tombstones are not only reminders of the peril that face your party but also opportunities for upgrades and supplies. Party members can be bitten on your voyage and may require a euthanizing rifle blast to the head. Of course, if you are a misanthropic sociopath you could always off your healthy party members and not have to worry about keeping them fed and healthy. Dotting the trail to safety are landmarks and cities that allow your party to trade, buy and sell items, upgrade your car and purchase perks for your character. You can also take on jobs to earn some cash or supplies and chat the locals up for information.
Scavenging is often the easiest way to stay supplied on your journey. By opting to scavenge an open field pops up with random items spawning. Little green zombies home in on your character as you attempt to scoop up scrap for car repairs, food for nourishment, and cash for additional supplies. It's possible to defend yourself from the zombie onslaught while scavenging with a rifle. You must click and pull your mouse back which brings up a line of site on the screen which you can then spin while in a fixed position to dial your site in on the revolting rotting flesh heaps that converge on your position. Releasing fires and these controls take a bit of time to acclimate yourself to. A couple of seconds to reload between each round ensures a bit of tension as you scramble for goodies. Bosses are also randomly encountered on these scavenging excursions. They are more robust creatures that put up a bit more of a fight than your average walking corpse.
The jobs that are on offer use variations of these mechanics. Some require you to defend a position by taking cover and killing zombies before they reach your position, some have you locating an item in a scrolling field while zombies swarm and the last variant has you trading gun shots with others humans in fortified positions. These mini games can feel repetitive after a while since your character doesn't receive new weapons and enemy types are limited. The randomness of these events will keep you coming back however. Also, random encounters with biker gangs and hordes of zombie deer mix things up while in your station wagon. Random interactions with other travelers on the road also spice up the core game and offer a little bit of narrative. Prompts will appear that ask if you feel inclined to investigate something on the road. Doing so kicks off an old school adventure sequence that often results in a reward of some sort. This touch adds quite a bit of re-playability to Organ Trail. While the randomness of Organ Trail ensures a new experience every time it can also lead to frustration. It's not uncommon for tragic events to occur in quick succession and take out a party member or even your party leader. It can be upsetting, perhaps off putting for some, when a well supplied and positioned expedition fails because of a bout with dysentery and broken ribs...
Ultimately Organ Trail: Director's cut is one of the best games to emerge from the zombie zeitgeist that has gripped popular culture over the past half decade.