Review: Organ Trail Complete Edition (PS4/PSV)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible No
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Organ Trail Complete Edition
Format: PlayStation Network Download (654.6 MB)
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: The Men Who Wear Many Hats LLC
Developer: The Men Who Wear Many Hats
Original MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: T
Organ Trail Complete Edition is also available on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Organ Trail is an homage and fresh approach to the classic Apple ][ game, Oregon Trail. The premise is simple: travel from the East Coast to Safe Haven on the West Coast through the Zombie Hordes. You and four other survivors must travel city to city, watching your health and supplies, while the game will throw out obstacles to slow you down and make your journey more difficult.

You will have to deal with dysentery, broken limbs, biker gangs, and much more as you progress. When you reach a city or small outpost you have many options that will help or hinder your travels. One of the great surprises of Organ Trail is the humor. While low key at most times, I did find myself chuckling at some of the text prompts. It was made even better as I named my car mates after the PS Nation crew. I laughed when Glenn got dysentery, and felt a little sad after I had to put him down after a Zombie bite.

You will have the option to rest your party, which is necessary, as their health will deteriorate during the car ride to the next safe spot. Resting is a simple mechanic where you choose how many hours you want to rest, and it clicks off of the current day. The more wounded you are, the longer it will take.

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I found that resting at every stop is advantageous to your survival. Resting will not heal your character though, only medkits will do that. Strangers can be found at the safe spots as well and they are used to tell the backstory, flavor text, and give the player hints. These pieces of text are very helpful at first but will get repetitive by the time you make it to Safe Haven, and consecutive games after that.

You start your adventure with a trusty Station Wagon, and it is just as important as any member of your party. You can repair your vehicle which brings up a timing minigame. Repairs involve scrap which you can find throughout your journey, or it can be traded for or bought. Vehicles can be upgraded as well, which gives you advantages for your travels to Safe Haven.

… panic and a sense of urgency …
Auto Shops can be found in some of the areas you stop at, where you can buy supplies and upgrade your vehicle. You can also set the pace of your vehicle to travel faster or slower, depending on how much wear and tear you want to happen. There are sections of the game where your Station Wagon plays a part in combat, be it against Biker Gangs or, when you are closer to Safe Haven, a stampede of Zombie Deer.

Gathering supplies for your trip can be done in a couple ways. One is by scavenging which allows you to go out to the wasteland to gather them and it’s here where you find the most combat in the game. Combat is controlled by using both sticks, the left moves your character and the right is used for aiming. As with the other aspects of the game you have a finite amount of ammunition.

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I found combat harder on the PS4 than the Vita due to the different sizes of the sticks. You will have an easier time if you are able to line up your shots in a straight line, rather than at an angle. After a few games, I was moving around the screen lining up straight shots and had a much easier time with the controls. One of the strengths of combat is the way it sends waves of Zombies at you which can cause panic and a sense of urgency, which is a strong point of Organ Trail.

Trading is also a good way to grab much needed supplies, but sometimes there will be no one to trade with. You can choose to wait and hope you can find someone with what you need, which helps ratchet up the tension. Another system the game gives you to succeed is combat training. While not always available, it’s good to try to get all the help you can.

… very little difference between the PS4 and Vita versions …
Another source of combat is the job board. This is where you can find objectives like defending against the horde, or looking for important salvage. Your rewards will vary but are usually worth the danger. Towns and outposts give you the the ability to buy and sell goods. These are an integral part of the game and offer up a nice strategy element.

It is very important to know what you have and what you will need to finish your journey. I found myself needing supplies and not able to get them at the stop I was at, hoping the next area would have what I need. This leads to the building of tension which, along with combat, is one of the best parts of the game.

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There is very little difference between the PS4 and Vita versions. They are almost identical, with the only major difference being how it controls due to the size of the thumb sticks. I preferred the Vita version due to the sticks and the fact that the graphics seemed to be more vibrant and pop off the screen. Other then those differences the versions are identical. Organ Trail is a Cross-Buy title so it’s a win-win either way.

Visuals:
If you are looking for next-gen graphics, this is not the game for you. The graphics are based on what you would see in an Apple ][ game, just with a higher resolution. At first I was put off by the graphics, but once I got into the story and understood what this game was, I would have it no other way.

… a must try that should not be missed …
Organ Trail does a good job with a small color palette, making objects jump off the screen. The Vita version makes the graphics really pop off the screen a little better than the PS4. What is hard to believe for me is the job that the developers did with some of the smaller objects in the game. Each object is well defined and easily identified.

Audio:
The audio is done by Ben Crossbones and is an integral to your experience. From frantic beats when on scavenging runs, to slow melodic harmonies while in a safe area, the music sets the tone that belongs in the Zombie Apocalypse. The sound effects are simple at best, but fit in fine and did not take me out of my immersion.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The developers took what might be considered a niche title and turned it on it’s head into something remarkable. All phases of the game merge into a experience that should be tried and enjoyed. From the humor, to the tense situations, to managing your supplies, it’s quite enjoyable. For the price point, Organ Trail is a must try that should not be missed.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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