Originally given to school-age children as an edutainment title back in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s, The Oregon Trail is still about the journey that many brave adventurers took out west to find a new life and the trials and tribulations along the way, but with some serious quality of life improvements. With a fresh coat of paint and some much-needed cultural reference perspective updates, The Oregon Trail has never looked, or played, better.
Gameloft has revitalized this classic once before, but it was merely a visual update with few improvements and a hefty price tag. Thankfully, this time around they are doing the update justice with attention to detail and introducing a number of additional playable characters to take with you on your trip along the dusty trail.
The weary trek is not without its abundance of burdens, and you’ll likely fail on your first few tries. Thankfully, the game has a plethora of playable characters, and each one has its own backstory, stats, skill sets, and personality for you to fill your party with. While the original title was very behind-the-times with the way it handled Native Americans, you can now select them to join your trek and they also have stories that help flesh out their importance to the movement.
Random events and dealing with them accordingly has always been the strongest game mechanic in The Oregon Trail, and there’s plenty to keep you busy here. Between your party members becoming ill, your oxen contracting diseases, and your wagon breaking down, you’re going to be doing a lot of resource management. Camps and towns can help you fill up your supplies again, but only if you have the means to pay for them. There’s a good balance of give and take here, and it keeps you on your toes throughout each leg of the trip.
White water rafting is also back and has you steering a raft down a raging river, trying to avoid rocks and other obstacles along the way. This is not the only way that water will impact your trip, though, as crossing rivers is sometimes possible as you try to ‘caulk’ the wagon by removing the wheels and floating it across, or you can also pay a ferry to carry you across. If you’re unsuccessful in floating your wagon across, you can potentially lose it all, and it’s game over.
Beyond that, there are weekly challenges that give you tougher tasks to try to tackle in order to gain some money for your party. Each one is a modifier to the existing mini-games or challenges on the trail, but better scores earn you more money.
Each part of The Oregon Trail feeds so well into each other that the experience has you hoping for the best for the people you’re taking care of and experiencing the harshest parts of what the west has to offer. Managing what you have and what you need may seem like a chore, but in order to survive the trip, you’re going to need some help and a little luck to see it through. Having this classic title streamlined for quick play sessions makes it perfect for the format and easy to jump into anytime you’re looking to hit the road.