Organ Trail: Director’s Cut
“Oregon Trail” was one of the first games I ever played on a computer, so writing this particular article was not only a joy but nostalgic. “Organ Trail: Director’s Cut” takes gameplay elements from “Oregon Trail” and adds its own unique spin, which happens to include zombies. Yes, “Oregon Trail” and zombies…I’m not going to complain. Before the dysentery jokes begin, I’d like to thank Ryan Wiemeyer for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu lets you play in either campaign or endless mode, see extras, and adjust game options. If you’ve quit mid-game, you’ll also have the option to continue where you left off, but starting a new game will erase that save file. In the options mode, you’ll have sliders for sound and toggles for control scheme and Twitter, should you wish to keep others updated on your progress. Before the game loaded up, I was able to address full screen toggle, screen resolution, and keybinds via a window pop-up. The extras menu lets you view scores, achievements, skulls, tombstones, credits, and participate in “Clements Quest”…more on that in a bit.
When starting a new campaign, you can choose between easy, normal, difficult, and suicide. I found easy to be pretty challenging, so I recommend starting there while you get your bearings. After that, you’ll be taught how to shoot your gun, which involves clicking / holding the mouse button while aiming it behind your character, similar to some of the billiards games I’ve played. Letting go of the mouse button fires the gun. It took a few tries for me to get it right, but it wasn’t difficult to learn how to do. A fellow named Clements drops by, saves your butt during this tutorial, and sets your game up via a series of questions. He’ll ask for your name, the names of those in your party, and what materials you’d like to start out with. Those who have played “Oregon Trail” will recognize this process.
After Clements bites it via a broken arm, dysentery (here we go with the dysentery jokes), and a zombie bite, I’m left with a station wagon, some supplies, and the four others in my party. I found it a cool idea that party members could get bitten by zombies, along with the option to put them down. Your goal will be to make it to the west coast, starting from Washington DC. Needless to say, your journey will be a long one.
Once the game starts rolling, you’ll have many, many options available. I suggest taking a moment to familiarize yourself with all of the menus and what they do. The main screen lets you view party health and party status, while giving you the option to stop and access other menus. There is a pause button in the upper left corner of the screen, which accesses the in-game menu.
When stopped, you’ll be able to rest, heal party members with a medkit, kill party members, talk to strangers, repair your station wagon, set your pace, upgrade your station wagon, view the road map, go scavenging for supplies, buy and sell supplies, do various jobs, and more. The options you have available to you will change, depending on where you’ve stopped.
Rather than list out all of the different mechanics, I’ll opt to mention what stood out to me the most. For starters, I like the fact that the party members have a physical health bar that you can see. This gave me a good idea as to when I should stop and rest up. In addition to worrying about party member health, I thought it a cool idea that vehicle health was included. In the original “Oregon Trail” game, oxen got injured and died sometimes for no apparent reason. In this game, the station wagon’s durability drops as you play, forcing you to stop and repair it with scrap.
Repairing the vehicle can sometimes be a pain, mainly due to how the mechanic works. You’ll be allowed to choose how much scrap you’d like to use to repair the vehicle when you go to do so. My initial thought was that the more scrap I used, the more of the vehicle would be repaired…not the case. Using more scrap simply increases the chance that the repairs will be a success. Whether you use one scrap or ten, quantity doesn’t affect how much the vehicle gets repaired. Using ten however, almost guarantees that the repair attempt will succeed…almost.
Supplies will run out on a regular basis and therefore scavenging for food becomes a necessity. It plays out similarly to the hunting action in the original “Oregon Trail” game, though instead of hunting animals, you’ll be shooting / dodging zombies while picking up items that spawn on the ground. The more items you pick up, the more you can bring back to your station wagon. There are limits to how much you can carry back, but you can buy “skills” that modify these default values. I appreciate the different zombies you’ll face, including bosses that show up to ruin your day. If at any point a zombie or boss touches you, the scavenging attempt ends with you injured.
You’ll be pleased to know that there aren’t any rivers that you’ll have to float across. Rather, hordes of zombies will show up on occasion, which give you the option to wait it out, break out the guns and force your way through, or sneak by. It’s similar to the river mechanic found in the older game, but occurs less frequently. Other mini-games break up the main game, such as shooting zombies before they reach you and stopping biker gangs from shooting at your car. At one point, one of my party members was taken hostage and I had to aim my rifle and shoot the kidnapper without hitting said party member.
All in all, “Organ Trail: Director’s Cut” is an incredibly fun game. It not only brings back memories, but its unique gameplay features keeps things from getting dull. Is it worth the current sales price of $4.99? Yes, yes, and yes.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about and purchase this game by visiting the following websites:
You can help bring the game to Steam by voting for it on its Greenlight page, here:
You can check out video play sessions here: