Organ Trails is a resource management indie game that tasks you with surviving the zombie apoclypse as you drive across the USA with a group of parasitic survivors .It is your job to manage your resources, escape from various encounters with the undead and bandits, all the while ensuring the ultimate survival of yourself and your gang of rag-tag survivors.
I began my first playthrough of Organ Trails with absolutely no foreknowledge of the game except that it was about zombies and looked like an old Amiga game from 30 years ago. It’s about 100mb of a download, so out of sheer boredom, I decided to give it a go, and, after spending a couple of hours with this little indie title, I was glad I did.
The game itself is reminiscent of an old Atari or ZX Spectrum game, but is similar in execution of the story to one of the old Fighting Fantasy adventure books, where your adventure is determined by choices presented to you at certain points of the story. The gameplay consists of you managing items like food and ammo while you travel from location to location in your station wagon. At each new location you can perform jobs for the locals, which will earn you valuable resources, or you can scavenge, where you partake in quick mini games, like shooting zombies in the head while running around gathering as much shit as you can.
The game started with me being saved by some old bum, who very quickly becomes a zombie and gets his face blown off. Before he dies he gifts me a station wagon and tasks me with ensuring the survival of a group of random people. They’re a decent enough bunch, with some unusual names and I quickly grow to love them, despite some of their short comings.
We traveled from town to town in search of supplies and helped out folk where we could. After about a dozen or so little adventures, we got attacked by bandits that stole all our stuff. This didn’t discourage us, and we kept trucking, but bad luck was to find us again all too soon. In an attempt to get supplies from a stranger we came across between towns, “dirty balls” got kidnapped by cannibals. I didn’t have the ammo to get into a gun fight to save him and the cannibals were willing to negotiate, so they suggested that they could pay me $300 compensation in order to retain Dirty Balls as one of their pantry staples. I was faced with a moral dilemma. Sure, we were struggling with our resources but Dirty Balls was an integral part of our group and I had come to care for him like a brother…..Deal struck and one party member down, we journeyed to the next town $300 richer.
Unfortunately, our luck didn’t improve much at the next town. Maybe the deal with the cannibals had cursed us, or maybe the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to my health meter lead to my untimely demise. I took a job from the locals to clear out a building of 2D maniac bandits that had being terrorising them. It was a job too big for the likes of me and in my eagerness to prove I wasn’t the same scumbag that sold out one of my friends a whole two minutes earlier, I got killed. And just like that , my game was over. No “do you want to continue” messages, just a screen with a tombstone. Like many other games in the survival genre, in Organ Trails – when you die you stay dead. Upon death, your save is deleted and you have to start from scratch again. It’s harsh but it makes you reflect on your choices along the way and makes you invest a little bit more effort into caring about your character.
One of the major things I liked about this game was that it empowers the player with the ability to create and craft their own story, much like Crusader Kings. The graphic are minimal and a lot of what you discover about the world is text based. This leads to the player having to use their imagination and create a narrative around the game, just like reading a book. Through this, I found myself getting more sucked into the game and having more invested in it as I was creating my own story within this little 2D world. While the graphics are reminiscent of the early 80’s, there is a certain charm to them. It could be just striking my nostalgia bone just right, but I really don’t think so, as if the gameplay wasn’t as solid as it is, I wouldn’t have played through one game, let alone return for numerous others. The mini games are slightly challenging and the closer you get to your destination the harder it is to manage your resources and ensure the safety of your team.
This game won’t be for everyone and despite how much I enjoyed it, I probably won’t play it again for a while. After my 3rd game, it was all becoming a little over repetitive and a bit too easy, but saying that, I did pump about 10 hours into the game before getting to that point. I bought the game for around £1.50 in a sale, and 10 hours of enjoyable gameplay for that is a bargain. Anyone bored of the usual AAA FPS Quick Time Event shite that’s infecting every game at the moment should check Organ Trails out. It won’t change your life, but will tide you over until the rather similar Walking Dead season 5 is out.