Organ Trail Review: Organ Trail is originally released in 1971 and released periodically in new iterations every few years for 50 years now. While I have been able to play different versions of the Organ Trail throughout the years, with Yukon being relatively easy and Amazon being surprisingly difficult, I have never completed a full run of the original Organ Trail until the latest game, Lap, released in Oct 16th, 2022.
This latest installment is a game that plays and looks better than ever, but this is still the Organ Trail, through and through, flaws and all.
The core of the Oregon Trail should be familiar to players who have played a variation of this type of game throughout the years. With you managing the condition of your wagon party and your supplies from Independence, Missouri to the Wellington Valley in Oregon, a few things to keep in mind include the morale of your crew, the condition of the wagon, food, supplies being topped off, and having enough money on hand to purchase new supplies.
You’ll have to pick and choose carefully, as you won’t be able to prevent every shortcoming that appears before you. Wild animal attacks, illness, broken bones, rough weather conditions, and rotten foods are just a few of these events that you will have to make the tough or easy choice on.
The same can be said for which paths to take, like a longer, safer path or the shorter but more costly one to get to the next landmark sooner. The main hook of the game is reacting to the choices placed before you and hoping that the choice you made was the correct one for you and your wagon party. The most noticeable upgrades to this version of the Organ Trail are the visuals.
This clever blend of graphics helps the Organ Trail feel new again, a series that hasn’t always had a vast improvement in visuals over the years. Not only that, but this version of the game handles Native Americans and their sensitivities much better than in games past, even allowing you to select them for your wagon party.
The other big changes are to the hunting and Whitewater Rafting minigames. Hunting not only controls better, but it allows you to carry more meat back to the wagon if your character has a high stamina rating. The Whitewater Rafting doesn’t get as many improvements or changes as the hunting mini-game, but it is available as a separate mode that tracks and scores how long you can keep your raft afloat on the river. The Organ Trail doesn’t end once you complete a full journey to Oregon.
There are scenarios you can unlock in this version of the Organ Trail by completing certain checkpoints in the main game. These extra scenarios are called journeys and have different difficulties, lengths and extra unlocks for the main game if you complete them like tools and additional people to select for your wagon party. You can also unlock short readable entries by completing checkpoints or by gaining experience points through the game by tapping or pushing a button whenever there is wildlife out on the trail.
Organ Trail Review: In addition, you can play through the main scenario at a different starting point if you want the challenge that comes with less money and fewer opportunities to increase the various stats of your Wagon party. Despite all of these changes, from a gameplay and graphical perspective, the Organ Trail suffers from one problem which factors primarily on how many organ Trail games you have played before.
This is the latest iteration of a game that has now spanned 50 years. Over the years, there have been numerous things added and taken away from the Organ Trail, like being able to pick what month and year to begin your journey out west, but the core gameplay is still the same. It’s likely that you will see the majority of the random events on your first run through the organ Trail, regardless of success or failure.
Being able to play different journeys helps alleviate some of those shortcomings, but the main draw of the Organ Trail is the Organ Trail, and the early thrill of exploring and decision-making quickly turns into regular events of wagons getting damaged or getting dysentery. Make no mistake, however, this four-out-of-five version of the Organ Trail is still a great game.
It just might not offer enough fresh or new ideas for returning players. Even then, the Organ Trail has never looked and played better, and it still balances the gaming side with the educational heart better than most edutainment games.
The Organ Trail is a great guidebook for younger players, and it still has the last-seen classic gameplay that longtime players will remember. It’s a great fit for Apple Arcade, as you can make forward progress in just a few minutes if you don’t have a lot of time to play. This 2022 iteration may not offer huge sweeping changes, but it’s a perfect example of how to maintain the legacy of the Organ Trail after all of these years.
Organ Trail will be released on Oct 16th, 2022 for PC on Steam and PS4.