I still have fond memories of spending free time in my school’s computer lab playing Oregon Trail on an Apple IIe, killing off my settlers because I sucked just that badly at getting them through the frontier. Which is why I looked fondly towards playing Orion Trail, a homage to this classic and a parody of Star Trek. And I will have to say that I wasn’t disappointed in the least from the point of loading the game up and picking my crew to join me across the stars. My only problem? I found it hard to put down to write this review.
Orion Trail, in a nutshell, is a game of going from point A to point B all the while trying your damnedest not to kill off the entire crew or destroy your ship. Not as easy as it sounds, though. After picking which galaxy to go exploring, the next one unlocking after you complete your current mission, you’re taken to your crew assignment. Pick your captain and three officers to help you out on your trek across the stars. Each one has their specialty, marked by what skills they provide. I tried to keep an even spread throughout each of my playthroughs but I quickly discovered that’s not necessarily the best choice of “point allocation”.
Here’s where the fun begins, though. As soon as you get your crew online you’re taken to a space chart to start plotting your course to the station at the end. You’re given a limited number of crew, food, fuel, and hull. Run out of crew you’re officers start taking damage until you fail. Run out of food your crew starts dieing. Run out of fuel and you’re stuck until someone comes along to trade with you. Run out of hull and your ship explodes. Simple as that. And it’s not easy to juggle these limited resources.
Each stop on the way to the end will either end up with a challenge or a planet to explore, with a few other surprises here and there. These challenges run the gamut and you have to decide on one of three or so options, using one of your skills totaled up amongst your crew. The higher the skill the better because it increases your chances to succeed on the “Probability Drive”, an RNG that’s as ruthless as space itself. The first couple galaxies were pretty simple but as soon as I got to the third the frustration started to kick in.
While Orion Trail can be frustrating in regards to the difficulty of the “Probability Drive” it’s still quite worth playing just for the humor alone. There are plenty of nods not just to Oregon Trail (Space Dysentery anyone?) and Star Trek (redshirts galore) but also other pop culture references. Including a dance-off with Michael Jackson zombies and a trip to a Willie Wonka inspired planet. Did I mention Space Dysentery? Sure, it gets repetitive at times, especially if you keep encountering the same things, but even so the quest to make it to Orion is just too damn addictive. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to deal with my nemesis Baxxstar.