Game Reviews

The Trail review: Exercise your mind while walking The Trail

The Trail is a the newest game from Peter Molyneux (Populous, Fable, Godus), 22Cans and Kongregate. My first thought before playing The Trail was, “So, I just walk?” Oh, how wrong I was!

In The Trail, you play a traveler in the New World seeking a new life and a new home. Along the way, you gather materials on the side of the road to eat, craft, and sell. When you reach your destination, you can settle down, buy & upgrade a home, and help the town grow.

The best way to describe The Trail is part survival, part crafting, and part simulation. The core of the game is traveling on the trail, gathering and crafting items, inventory management, selling items at a rest stop for money, then continuing along the trail. Throughout the game, the environment and scenery change, there are mini-games – trading, chopping wood, hunting – and a surprisingly deep crafting system to break up the monotony of simply walking along the trail. There is plenty to see while moving through the game. The environments are delightful, and it’s fun watching the animals, playing the mini-games, and seeing other players/travelers along the way. You can even interact with passersby using some limited dialogue choices. One of the things I like about The Trail is that I don’t feel the need to play the game constantly, despite an apparent lack of energy or stamina (more on this later) that’s so prevalent in many other mobile games.

The graphics are a bit quirky, but I soon warmed up to them. It helps that the NPCs show distinct personalities and are quite memorable.
My one nitpick about the graphics would be the initial character creation system. Instead of being able to design your own character, you must scroll through a random assortment of 6 random looks. I easily spent 20 minutes searching for a character with the hair, ears, eyes and nose I wanted. I’m still not too happy about the nose.

And now for my nitpicks. I know, again? But it’s my way; I like to criticize. My friends would say it’s written in the stars.

Remember how I said there’s no energy or stamina? Well, there is, to some extent. Each piece of clothing adds to your health, which is lost as you move along the road. Clothing has a durability that also depletes as you travel. Early clothing has a very small durability, usually lasting less than a full kilometer; so I found myself constantly crafting clothing to move from one camp to the next. Since this is only my second ever survival game, I asked an expert who assured me this is typical in most survival games. I find that I have limited patience in doing repetitive tasks, but your mileage may vary (pun intended).

After a short while, I was able to choose my own quest. Fulfilling quests allow you to craft new items, but it was difficult to find some of the items I needed to finish my quest. Thankfully, I was able to drop my current quest by tapping & holding Koko, the cute little quest bird, and cancel my first quest. Once I reached the next camp, Beatrice asked me to choose an easier quest to finish. Mental note: the missing items were further along the trail in the next area, oy!

A few days after I started playing the game for review, Android pushed a security update. After the update, I could not log back into The Trail. After several uninstalls & re-installs, and finally a bug fix from Kongregate, I was able to play again. However, I lost my previous save due to uninstalling the game. I wish there was a cloud save feature. Thankfully, I was at the beginning of my game, but if I had been much further, I doubt I would have been so forgiving.

My final negative about the game is the incredibly limited amount of inventory space available in the beginning of the game. The small space doesn’t allow much  room for collectors like me. I had to be incredibly strategic and decide which items I needed to pick up along the way for crafting and survival. I did say they were nitpicks, right? Most of these are traits or features in survival and crafting games. Even though it’s not my favorite genre of game, I do find this game very appealing.

There is a lot to love in The Trail. It has a zen-like quality that I truly enjoy; and the characters, environments, and social aspects of the game will keep you interested for many hours.

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