Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Men Who Wear Many Hats: Organ Trail

Remember Oregon Trail? That game you played in grade 2, eagerly stuffing a floppy disc into one of 5 of the school's computers, slyly smiling to yourself that those teachers thought this was an educational game. Little do they know!

Or little did you know. You actually did learned a lot of stuff in that game, didn't you? I bet you didn't know what dysentery was until this stage in your life. Perhaps you didn't know where Oregon was. Maybe this little game sparked your interest in 19th century American history. Or maybe it gave you the idea of one day following this trail yourself, fording streams and hunting for your own food. Real woodsy. (Of course, it wasn't until later that you realized that hunting is harder than the click of a mouse, when your wagon tips over in the stream it's actually a big deal, and writing funny epitaphs for your friends isn't so funny anymore.)

But Oregon Trail was a teaching game about the pioneer life of the past. The Men Who Wear Many Hats' game Organ Trail is all about the zombie-fighting life of the future. No stream-fording or ox-feeding here. Oh no. Here, at the end of the world, you will learn about fighting off hoards of ravenous undead, scavenging for canned soup and bags of chips, and repairing your beat-up, wood-paneled station wagon. (Okay, so that part might not be so futuristic. But you have to admit, they don't make them like they used to.)

I must admit, I didn't manage to complete the Organ Trail. In fact, it was a complete disaster. Karen wandered off somewhere near St. Louis, never to be found again. We had to leave her behind. Robert kept breaking all his limbs (who knows how he managed that, seeing as we all just sat in the car all day and night). Food was always scarce, we were all weak, and Robert and Mitchell kept getting seriously ill. Sometimes it rained. Sometimes it snowed. It was never quite clear what season it was. Despite the fact that we travelled by day as much as possible, Theo got a zombie bite somewhere around Memphis and we had to put him down. (Yes, "Kill Party Member" is an option available to you.) Soon after (perhaps of a broken heart?) Mitchell became "incapacitated" and passed away. Robert and I made it 13 miles out of Salt Lake City before disaster struck: we ran out of fuel. With his broken arm and leg, Robert didn't stand a chance. After losing all hope, he too became incapacitated and quietly passed away. Alone, I was unable to fend off the zombies. Night fell, and I surrendered to my twitchy green fate.

I was pretty pleased with this game. Food-scavenging is just as fun as hunting, but scarier. You get to chat with your fellow trailmates. Most of the mechanics work just like Oregon trail, but with zombies. My two complaints: 
1) there really isn't very much innovation or improvement from the original game; and
2)you don't get to put up a tombstone for all of your departed comrades! While this would really suck in real life, I would argue it's one of the best parts of Oregon Trail, particularly when you play the game again and get to see all the clever bullshit you wrote on all of those tombstones.

Still, this is not a bad way of spending an hour. I don't know if I really want to play it again, which tells me that either Organ Trail has failed to be quite as compelling as its ancestor or that I've no longer the same drive to play this sort of repetitive, downtime-heavy storybook sort of game. Not quite sure which. I guess I'd better mosey out once more onto the Oregon Trail and find out.

My rating:
I could...
A. probably not kill a zombie in real life.
B. Take it
C. Leave it.

1 comment:

  1. In my game, Phil got bitten, and had to be shot. Then Kay was shot as an attempt at catharsis. Then I turned off the game because I couldn't find a battery.