Peter Molyneux is a familiar name to those who enjoyed the likes of Theme Park and the Fable series. He's also part of the team behind The Trail, a mobile game that tasks the player in heading down trails, collecting resources, building items, and trading with others. It's an interesting experience and one that attracts those who enjoy spending hours in Minecraft placing blocks in the correct formation.
The Trail has entered into the PC space as the Frontier Challenge, changing a few things here and there and optimizing everything for the big screen. To my surprise, it works rather well. That said, it's a casual PC game in the current state and will no doubt only appeal to those who are die hard fans of resource collection titles and walking simulators. Still, it's a fun world to spend a few hours.
The road ahead is loooong
The goal of The Trail: Frontier Challenge, is to "discover the undiscovered." You'll be tasked with traversing mountains, earning a few pennies and even building a community in a new land. Thing is, there are already a bunch of people on the new land, as is apparent when you set off on your travels. Players met along the way are actual representations of other players, not mere placeholders.
As someone who hadn't played the mobile version of The Trail prior to this PC release, it's a strange initial experience. While the tutorial does run you through various basic functionality, I found it to be a slight struggle to figure out exactly what my aim is between camps. Should I not compete against other players? Can I interact with them? Can they pick up items that are shown on my screen? Can they sit down at camps that have no more spare seats? So many questions, so little time.
In fact, players can snag those resources you see on-screen, which makes things a little interesting should it be a little crowded. You'll not only need to keep an eye on health and stamina but also others around you to ensure you have access to items on the way.
When at a camp — and you'll head to many camps in The Trail, think of them more as checkpoints — you'll have the opportunity to unwind, pick up new challenges from Beatrice to gain XP, trade with other players in a strange auction-like mini-game. As for mini-games, The Trail allows you to compete against other players in a number of challenges, including racing and collection. The main reason to bother with these slightly repetitive challenges is for XP.
Reaching Edan Falls
But you don't have to take these challenges. You can simply head out from camp and make your way to the next one. You can walk (this is handled automatically), run or even stand still and have a look around. Using the mouse and keyboard, I found it rather tricky to click on certain resources that aren't nearby the beaten path, which I assume is to combat those who simply leave the game on auto-pilot and click on everything on-screen. There's also the backpack, which can only hold so many items before you slow down and things fall out.
Resources collected along the way, alongside XP, are used in the production of items. Ingredients require you to place specific resources in a formation, but luckily they are displayed on-screen to make things easier. XP is used to unlock various skills within the five professions: lumberjack, hunter, cook, tailor, and explorer. Purchasing skill points will allow you to level up your character, learn to craft more valuable items and
take over the world switch out your outfit.
It's worth keeping an eye on equipment as everything degrades at a rather fast rate. After you've spent ample time chopping down forests, hunting animals, and gathering resources, there's a town called Edan Falls where you can purchase a house to live in. It's even possible to do this in other player-ran towns and even run a business. This is where the social interactions come alive somewhat.
But much like the walking, the towns showcase just how casual and relaxed this game is. But you don't have to take it easy. It's absolutely possible to sit there for 10 hours and grind resources and money. Communities can be formed, furnishings purchased for properties, and do other actions in the best interest of the town and fellow neighbors. With everyone pitching in, it's possible to get a bank, town hall and other buildings constructed.
Everything looks pretty
The game is pretty and you will pass through a number of biomes to help keep things interesting. It isn't perfect, there are some bugs, weird UI glitches and other areas where you can tell things have been overlooked in the move from mobile to PC. That said, as an initial release, it's not bad and is certainly worth picking up if you're a fan of The Trial on smartphone or walking/crafting games in general.
Overall, The Trail looks pretty on mobile, and Frontier Challenge brings the appealing aesthetics to PC. There doesn't appear to be too much here for more hardcore gamers. It's a casual, walking simulator with resource gathering, crafting, and social features baked in. If that sounds like something you'll enjoy — and there are plenty of people playing — then you'll likely have a blast.
It's good to see something positive come out of 22cans, and for just $13.49 it's also priced well.
- Nice aesthetics.
- Cool crafting/ RPG mechanicals.
- Social development.
- Bugs and glitches/issues.
- Repetitive gameplay.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.