Whether you're a longtime fan of this challenging simulation or you're new to the franchise, this is a real treat, and a refreshingly different kind of game than what's found on Apple Arcade. While the slow-ish pace and dialogue-heavy gameplay won't be thrilling for all players -- especially younger gamers who prefer fast action (or might not appreciate the historical relevance) -- this version of The Oregon Trail is just great. Similar to its predecessors, the game has you make several decisions on your journey to the west, but this version offers more depth in its characters (each with their own strengths and weaknesses), greater diversity, and deeper dialogue sequences that help you stay engaged in the campaign. Since you know your decisions will affect the storyline, you'll take care every step of the way. Should you swap pelts for supplies to fix a broken wheel? Will you pay a ferry operator to cross a waterway, or ford the river instead? (Water and wagon conditions play a role here too, along with river depth and width.) Will you take a chance to eat berries if you're starving and out of ammunition for hunting? You get the idea. In fact, the game boasts randomly generated events that affect the choices you need to make (and their outcomes) across the 12 main playable journeys.
Visually, the game doesn't mess with the side-scrolling look of its predecessors, but it has a pleasant mix of pixel art characters, 3D environments (and cutscene sequences), attractive lighting effects (including sun flares), and varying weather conditions. The melancholy music and sound effects are top-notch, which also adds to the immersion. There isn't much to complain about -- it could very well be the best version of the half-a-century-old classic -- but some may find the pioneering life simulation a slow one. And there's some repetition across the various journeys. But for those willing to invest the energy, they'll no doubt fall for its charm, attention to detail, and depth.