Thule Trail is a re-imagining of the grade school classic, Oregon Trail, as an advergame for Thule Sweden, makers of outdoor sports equipment carriers and accessories. But instead of playing a family of 19th century immigrants, you play a group of 20 somethings road-tripping to a music festival. Instead of going to Oregon, you're going to Santa Barbara. The game takes its name from the 20th century occult society that sought the road to Atlantis; the music festival you travel to is called Atlantis, so it works. The rest of the game follows suit like a friendly slacker.
The interface is retro, like the 8-bit music, trying to cop the Oregon Trail feel. You select from a menu by typing in a number and pressing enter, this is how you select items to buy and things to do, when to rest, and so forth. While driving, pressing [Enter] takes you to a menu where you can take stock of your situation, rest, check the map, stop for gas, whatever. Along the way you're given the option to participate in random events — like hitchhikers — and there are also scenic side stops to check out. Most notably, you can enter "competitions" like snowboarding or mountain biking, and win cash to spend on the road. These mini-games are basically the same: move left and right, avoid obstacles press down to go faster and get across the finish line before time runs out. There's also a hunting mini-game where you shoot tacos and pizzas, and a traffic dodging mini-game towards the climax, as you approach the festival.
The game comes on a bit strong with its writing, all the idioms recall those naive days of the late 90s when California was better known for its culture than its natural disasters and predatory politics. As a friend, Paul Eres (Immortal Defense), commented, "the game takes itself so unseriously that it's too serious about its own unseriousness." Some of it, like the "pins and needles!" outbreak, are pretty funny, but overall it comes off as too intentionally unfocused for its own good.
But, its an Oregon Trail re-make. You ought to take a trip down the Thule Trail.
(In case you're scratching your head over a feeling of deja vu, Thule Trail was featured in a recent Friday link dump.)