Jerrod Wilson, a journalist living in 1848 Brooklyn, apparantely never got over 'losing' his brother Jake who was forced to leave town ten years ago. Now the protagonist receives a letter from this lost relative. Jake has found gold in California and he urges Jerrod to join him there. And it would be much of a game if Jerrod didn't go along with this...
Gold Rush has some interesting things in it. For example, in the first episode (Brooklyn), the game tries its best to make the city look alive. Carts are driving along the roads, people are walking around carrying on their business. The game's highlight is the travel episode. There are three alternate routes you can choose from and each plays differently. Much appreciated!
Unfortunately, Gold Rush is also cram-full of the typical Sierra sins. It all starts with those carts which will mercilessly run you over if you don't jump off the road quickly enough. Similarly, many puzzles deal with ludicrous lethal situations in which you have a few seconds to decide something to escape or you're dead. Of course, there is no option to retry - better have many saved games ready.
Another problem with the puzzles is that almost all of them are completely backwards. I.e. you have to use trial & error, fail and retry. Everything. For example, on each way to travel, you'll need an item in order to avoid being killed. However, you'll only know what to get back in Brooklyn after you've died on the way once. Many scenes even involve time limitations. For example, take the first episode once again: After about 15 minutes of real time, the Gold Rush will increase the prices by so many times that you won't be able to buy anything anymore - game over. Arriving in California, you might find the stage coach which is supposed to take you further has already left - game over again. And so on. Nothing you can do to avoid this really. It may be realistic, but it's no fun.
As usual with Sierra, the parser is quite problematic (dumb), objects which can't be seen have to be searched manually all over the screen, the player's sprite is painfully slow even in 'fast' mode and the graphics are quite ugly. Ever seen a city which has rivers of blood instead of streets? Here you are! To make things even better, the same colour is used for people's skin.
In spite of those certain qualities mentioned earlier in the review, Gold Rush is once again an almost unplayable game from the worst Adventure-making company ever. Pity.