What’s the auld rascal up to now? The Trail: Frontier Challenge [official site] is a multiplayer hiking game by 22Cans, the studio headed by Peter Molyneux and responsible for the troubled and still-in-early-access civilisation builder Godus. It's been out on iGizmos for some time, but now it’s coming to Steam, say the developers. I haven’t been keeping track of it but let’s look at this trailer. Oh, it’s a walking simulator. But, er, not like that.
So it’s sort of a walking game but also sometimes a racing game but also an inventory management thingy but also there’s crafting and fashion and town building and other players and shooting pigs with slingshots. In other words, I have no idea how to classify it apart from to say it sure looks like a game you play on iPad. But here’s what some of the blurb says:
Join pioneers from across land and sea in an epic journey across an undiscovered country! Walk down the single track path of destiny at a calm and measured pace! Get out there and make your mark upon the world, adventurer!
And you are not alone in your travels! Every person you meet on The Trail is another player who will trade with you at campfires located along the way.
"The single track path of destiny"! Don't you dare explore. There are different player classes - “Lumberjack, Hunter, Cook, Tailor, and Explorer” it says - and the aim seems to be to fill your backpack with expensive trinkets and earn money on your journey so you can invest it in a town somewhere. That seems fairly straightforward and at odds with the usual over-ambitious nature of this particular creator.
Making walking games that aren’t trad walking sims seems an interesting avenue to me. I live a mostly sedentary life but I did once walk the Camino de Santiago backwards. I had to throw out stuff in my backpack to make it lighter partway through the weeks-long hike and years of sorting vidyagame inventories had trained me for that moment. One evening I met a woman who had a tiny pack, which she told me housed just two shirts, two pairs of shorts, and two pairs of underwear. I have never felt more like a noob meeting a high level player.
I might do the Romeria in August, which is a much shorter walk. It’s a crazy day when loads of main roads in Costa Rica close down so that everyone can go on a mass pilgrimage to the town of Cartago to see a little black statue of the Virgin. Games don’t really do “pilgrimage” but maybe they should. I remember looking at the twisted, rigour mortis-ed corpses of the pilgrims in Dark Souls 3 and thinking: “I want to play their journey!” Am I strange? No. I’m normal.
Anyway, sorry for rambling (ha ha ha). The Trail: Frontier Challenge is due out on Steam sometime in Summer.