I took a recent road trip on the Organ Trail that ended in the death of a lot of great bloggers. Released last August on mobile platforms, the game finally made its way to PC via Steam’s Greenlight program. The game is a riff off Oregon Trail, which I played as a kid, but don’t remember getting too far or being that into it. I remember dysentery, and that’s about it. Organ Trail’s version tasks you with taking a road trip across post-apocalyptic America in a very finicky station wagon. Of course, as with most wastelands, there are hordes of zombies, backer gangs, and rabid animals to contend with while you gather the necessary resources to survive.
It’s quite fun, if mostly just for the sick/fun feeling of watching things go completely wrong for your party. The shooting controls are really quite terrible. To aim and fire, you click and drag the mouse in a line toward your character. I have no idea what that is intended to simulate, but it gives the game an added level of difficulty for no apparent reason which is something, I guess. But shooting factors in as a major mechanic throughout the game in a wide variety of different game types. There are shootouts where you try to pick off gang members hiding in windows while not getting shot. There are defense missions where you stand in one location and pick off an oncoming zombie horde. Finally, there are the scavenge missions where you walk around firing at zombies (and sometimes bears) while you pick up supplies. With all the shooting, you’d think they would have picked something less clunky for their controls.
Still, these types of games are fun and exciting not because of gameplay, but because of dynamic, sandbox moments. For example, my friend over at Counter Attack, Chuck, clearly took a zombie bite to his penis when he was out taking a piss. As much as it saddened me, I had to put him down before he’d be too far gone and just get up again to try to eat me. (I am sure there is also a place there for a joke involving zombies, rigor mortis, up and down, and penises, but this is a classy blog, so you’ll have to make that joke on your own.) As a game largely about managing a wide assortment of resources to maintain the livelihood of your party and your station wagon, Organ Trail perfectly captures the fight for survival you’d expect in a zombie-infested hell. Few games allow your car to break down and force you to scavenge in the woods for a battery, and even fewer kill you off with an unlucky pothole, but Organ Trail has those moments in spades.
It’s a little long, but I happen to of captured a recent play through while testing out a stream on my new Twitch account. I took my friends Rich (who is in the Stream via Steam as Humanshield), Chuck of Counter Attack, Pixel of Pixel Bubble, and Chris of At the Buzzer, all because they were unlucky enough to have tweeted me recently. Ignore most of my chatter, though. I haven’t done any of this newfangled online stuff to have any practice (plus I am naturally a little crude).
If you are interested, Organ Trail is on sale on Steam for $3.99 and also available on iOS and Android.