Wednesday saw the release of a new video game from famed developer Peter Molyneux and his team at 22Cans. Yes, we were surprised by the news, as well.
While new mobile game The Trail leaked to some extent in September thanks to a soft launch on the Philippines’ App Store, the game is remarkable in that it’s easily the least-hyped game to ever bear the Molyneux name. The British designer’s legendary status in the industry hinges as much on his earlier, brilliant creations as it does his tendency to over-promise and under-deliver—a fact that fueled a pretty incredible Eurogamer feature about his hype-filled tendencies (which he humbly participated in).
But The Trail, which launched for free today on both the iOS App Store and Google Play, may very well benefit from Molyneux’s apparent new leaf of minimal hype, proven out by zero pre-release interviews describing the game in any way, shape, or form. Considering that this game follows the duds that were Curiosity: What’s In The Cube and Godus, expectations couldn’t get much lower, and that might make the free, simple play in The Trail a little easier to swallow.
Your avatar, who starts out dressed in rags, takes a relatively linear path (on the titular trail) through a sunny, Appalachian wilderness. Players must manage their stamina, hunger, equipment, and more while walking from campsite to campsite, gathering resources along the path, and crafting useful items on their way.
Most of this revolves around moving the camera as you walk, then hunting-and-pecking with your finger for collectible items scattered around the wilderness. Meaning, to some extent, this game is about mood and comfort, where you look around a prettily rendered, primary-color wilderness while accumulating stuff. That breezy, introductory system will grow at least a little more complicated as survival becomes tougher, and according to an objectives list, your character will eventually settle down, raise a family, and start a business. Whether those systems add a lot of complication or difficulty is unclear so far, and while we haven’t yet run into any in-app purchases, the game is advertised as having them.
As a leisurely, pretty smartphone game with a pinch of survival mechanics, I am hopeful that I’ll find more meat on top of what I’ve tested so far—or that I’ll get bored and give up before 22Cans tries smacking me over the head with microtransactions.