One of the best and most unique edutainment titles ever made, The Lost Tribe is a fun survival simulation that is reminiscent of MECC's Oregon Trail, but with much more sophisticated gameplay. The premise: a tribal village was recently destroyed as a result of a violent volcanic eruption. The only course of action is to find your ancestral seat, a place rumored to be a sequestered paradise on Earth. After the tribe's leader is killed, you are elected to lead the tribe to this promised land. Your objective is to keep your tribesmen happy and well-fed, and find your ancestors' home before winter sets in. Otherwise, your tribe will simply revolt against you and leave you to your own fate. |
After you start a new game, you can choose between six different routes to lead your tribe to safety, each one more difficult than the last. The game has a very user-friendly interface, and it doesn't take too long to understand what each icon represents. In the middle of the screen is the map, comprising hexagonal tiles similar to turn-based wargames. Your position is marked by the hexagon with two tribesmen, and the yellow areas are the places you can travel to (you can only travel one square at a time). The left menu column shows your tribe's status, including how many days you have left until winter, the contentment level of the tribe, the amount of food supplies, number of spears, and the hunting capabilities. The right menu column is where you choose what to do during that turn, e.g. hunting, practising spear-throwing, resting, and worshipping an idol. Clicking on the last icon brings up an excellent on-line survival guide, which is packed with information regarding everything you'll need to know including the profiles of the tribe, hunting instructions, and the landscape and its conditions. The action icons also change according to what you are doing. Click on one of the yellow hexagons, for example, and you can choose whether to travel slowly or quickly, or to send a scout party ahead. You will also face random events, which require you to make a decision from several possibilities, similar to the multiple-choice questions in Interplay's Castles.
What makes The Lost Tribe a lot of fun is the excellent balance between education and gameplay. You will always learn something new about survival skils (even if the tribe in the game is a nondescript, generic "tribe" that does not represent any real-life tribal culture), and success relies much more on careful planning than random luck (as seems to be the case in Oregon Trail).
With solid gameplay, fascinating concepts and excellent graphics (the game mixes cartoon-style animations and humorous digitized film clips to good effect), The Lost Tribe deserves to ascend to our hallowed Hall of Belated Fame. Two thumbs up, way up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs