Nostalgia is the first thing to hit home after opening Orion’s Trail by the developers at Schell Games. The eight-bit style of music fills my head, which I find specifically reminiscent of Maniac Mansion. The graphics are of a similar style as well throwing me back headfirst into my childhood; sitting in front of the hulk of a television with my brother, awkward rectangular controllers cradled lovingly in our tiny hands.
Despite those similarities, I had been told the game was more like Oregon Trail in nature, just set in space. (Oh, how many hours I spent in front of the old family computer, trying different tactics to see how fast I could get through while killing off the majority of my crew whom I had named after my family.) I decide to check out the how-to-play tab anyway just to be sure that I have a handle on things.
The controls and everything seem simple enough and easy to grasp after a couple of minutes so I close out and choose the first level; the Wilky May. Then I’m prompted to choose my Captain and three Officers, each with different stat points in Attack, Tactics, Diplomacy, Science, and Bravado. This is the point at which point I notice that almost everything comes with whimsical names and/or descriptions. The developers seem to have gone the extra mile to encourage smiles or giggles at every turn.
They give you eight credits to begin with that you are to spend on resources that you will need to get you through the level. The how-to-play tab warned me that running out of anything would be problematic, so not knowing any better or worse, I dump two into each of the four; crew, food, fuel and hull.
As one transverses across the galaxy, you come across all sorts of amusing and weird creatures; from warp weasels you can attempt to domesticate down to enormous manatees that swallow your entire ship whole. At every encounter, you are given options that can potentially take away from or provide you with resources dependent upon success or failure. This is determined by a probability drive which you can gain bonuses on bases off of the stat points held by your Captain and Officers.
Upon reaching the end of the level, you are gifted a title and shown an “Orbituary” which tells you which of your crew members didn’t make it and how they died. I must admit that is was pretty amusing to see “tossed against a Ferris wheel” listed as a cause of death. You also get your Captain Report which shows all the Encounters, Missions, Events and Graves encountered along with all your orders issued (stat points you gained along the way) and event outcomes.
Overall, I would say that Orion’s Trail is a fun game that does not require consumption of all of your time or brain power. The quizzical style is a good “pick me up” for when you are having a dull day or just have a few minutes you need to kill before work or various adult tasks that you need help procrastinating with”¦or maybe you just want to dance-off with a hippoclap. Either way, Orion’s Trail is worth looking into.