The Oregon Trail Switch Review
If you’re a millennial, chances are you’ve encountered the Oregon Trail on the Apple IIe computer. It was a brutal game of survival as you and your family made from Independence, Missouri to the Oregon Valley. Chances are, you wouldn’t make it.
Now, years later, Gameloft, maker of freemium cash grabs on mobile, has come out with an updated edition of The Oregon Trail, and I have to say, it’s very good. It can be brutal, and yes, you can get Dysentery. It’s free of micro-transactions and honestly seems like a passion project considering the care that has gone into it. Note that the game is $30, I’ve waved the $20 limit on games I review for this as I think its worth reviewing.
The game bills itself as a “modern twist” on The Oregon Trail. It comes in two forms. First, the game play has been significantly updated and vastly more complex. There are now classes, visible character stats, a wagon inventory management system, quests, and tons of random encounters. The second form is best shown in this screenshot:
The original wasn’t exactly known for historical accuracy beyond dying of Dysentery. Here, they’ve added in Native Americans. It think its fine and only adds to the game. There also African American playable characters, which is also fine. The game is not pushing an agenda and it is to its credit that it does not.
The Oregon Trail’s Nitty Gritty.
In addition to the standard Oregon Trail, there is now the California Trail mode, a completely separate trail. There are several side journeys which are critically important. These get unlocked as you make your way along the trails. They are not long, but unlock new classes and items in the store. The first one is you taking your son to a winter camp. It unlocks the physician class, which excels in healing. Beating this will also unlock more journeys to complete.
Now, when you start the regular Oregon Trail mode, you are given a randomized assortment of characters with the various classes, from Missionary, to Banker, to Farmer, to Carpenter. These will affect all stats and their ability for good outcomes to random events. They will also have various personality traits which will have an effect on events and their stats. You load up your wagon from the store and head off.
There are four main stats: Health, Morale, Stamina and Hygiene. Obviously health is most important as get it to zero and they die, but so are the others. If morale too low, they’ll get forlorn, or run off. Get stamina too low, the characters will get exhausted, which decreases all stats. Get hygiene too low, they’ll get sick more often. There are also personality stats, like wit and composure. These will have the most effect on random encounters. A character with low composure can get scared easily and therefore fail encounters. Finally, ability stats like shooting and carpentry. The former affects the hunting mini game, and the latter effects the ability to repair the wagon.
The Brutality of it All!
Things start off very easy, then supplies run low, money runs low, people get sick and die. There are five legs of the Oregon Trail journey, split into a sub-legs or individual landmarks. Then within those sub-legs, you choose the path you take. You cannot freely camp or hunt here. You must go to a camp spot to camp, a hunting area to hunt. There is also a brand new fishing mini-game as well. The path you chose may make the difference between life and death.
You will have to make tough decisions. Winter may come and everyone may die. But you try and try again. And that is where I think the Oregon Trail nails it, the sheer brutality of survival. It’s just how it was.
I never thought much of Gameloft, but I think the new Oregon Trail is incredible. I said at the start I thought this was a passion project, and it shows. For one thing, no micro-transactions, which would have completely ruined the brutal nature(pay $4.99 to bring a character back). Gameloft knew this and kept it out. There is a lot here, and the main mode is much longer than the original, taking about an hour per
I’m proud to give this game a Must Play!
Overall: The Oregon Trail is a great update of a classic game, that teaches you survival is difficult and just how good we have it.
Verdict: Must Play