Avoid zombies (and dystentery) on the Organ Trail

The original Oregon Trail was a classic (and challenging) educational game. This modern parody changes the location to a zombie apocalypse. Can you survive the grueling trip across the wasteland?

Oregon Trail is a classic educational PC game from the 1970s (revamped in the 1990s) that still haunts those students who tried to make it from Independence, Missouri to Oregon's Willamette Valley, hunting bison and bear and losing party members to cholera . Some say Pong or Tetris launched video gaming into the mainstream--but neither Pong nor Tetris had you struggling to control an internal tantrum in the middle of math class when you lose your wagon while fording a river.

Here's the plan, we'll grab Liz, go to the Winchester and wait for all this to blow over. (Credit: Screenshot by Tuong Nguyen/CNET)

Originally a Flash game and Facebook app, Organ Trail garnered so many positive reviews that the developers launched a successful Kickstarter project, which allowed them to fund the creation of the game's "Director's Cut." The first version of Organ Trail was a dead-on parody of its namesake, while the DC version (commercial release for iOS and Android) adds a slew of extra features that allows the game to stand on its own.

There are many ways to barter. I like Jay as a person. I do. But 50 fuel cans and getting rid of dead weight is a sweet deal. (Credit: Screenshot by Tuong Nguyen/CNET)

For those who've never played the original, your objective is to cross the now zombie-infested United States in, most appropriately, a station wagon. You take with you: four of your buddies, food, ammo, fuel, and parts for your car. Instead of predetermined roles (e.g., banker, carpenter, or farmer in the original game), the DC version lets you create your own story with the option of selecting the difficulty mode.

Gameplay will bring a nostalgic tear to any fan of the original. Stock up and hit the road while taking care of the well-being of your companions (fighting off infections and diseases) as well as keeping an eye on provisions. Keep yourself well supplied through bartering, trading, taking on jobs, and when it gets tough, scavenging.

Zombie hordes and biker gangs. 'Go west,' they said. 'It\'ll be safe,' they said. (Credit: Screenshot by Tuong Nguyen/CNET)

The modern version of hunting and scavenging involves you trying to find supplies while fighting back the zombie horde, and sometimes when you're really unlucky, the boss zombies. The shooting mechanic has been updated with a slingshot-style control, making the game more interactive as well as adding a new level of challenge. Other minigames include fighting off biker gangs and going on bandit shootouts. The infamous river crossing of the original has been replaced with navigating through massive zombie hordes, which are still as treacherous and luck-dependent as the original.

Oh no ... zombie BEAR?! (Credit: Screenshot by Tuong Nguyen/CNET)

Organ Trail is a true zombie-survival simulator. You will have some bitter choices to make, whether it's trading your last bit of ammo for food or putting down one of your friends because he or she has been bitten. The game will punish you for being unprepared, and sometimes sheer bad luck will cause you to lose through no fault of your own. All said, it's an incredibly fun and addictive game to play, albeit frustrating at times. You can trek across America in one sitting or pick it up whenever you have the free time. Fans of the original or curious gamers trying to see what the hype is about will have a great time while surviving (or not) in the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic world.

About Tuong Nguyen

Raised in the Bay Area but educated on the sandy beaches of San Diego, Tuong writes for Download.com specializing in Windows Security and Mobile Apps.