The game has you play the role of Meriwether Lewis, who has been given an assignment by President Thomas Jefferson to, along with your co-captain William Clark, lead the Corps of Discovery, a contingent of three dozen US Army volunteers who have all agreed to a mission to travel West along this great land, from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. It's up to you to brave the elements, hunt wild animals, and keep your troops alive as you travel the 3,700 mile journey to change the course of Amercian History.
Compare to The Council for another take on a 17th-century era RPG.
Meriwether: An American Epic contains examples of:
- Badass Boast: When Dr. Caster expresses his surprise at the sheer scale of Meriweather's task, a Soldier-type response is to say "I will carry that boat on my back if I'll have to!"
- Based on a True Story: In this case, the Lewis And Clark Expidition.
- Dialogue Tree: Used sparingly; most of the dialogues are done automatically, and you are given the ability to respond only when the choices will invariably award a skill point in one of the four disciplines. For instance, saying that his discovery of mammoth's bones raises his authority will give you a point of leadership, while describing this find as a "crusade against ignorance" gives a Soldier point.
- First-Person Ghost: Played straight, at least in the Early Access version.
- Item Crafting: Meriwether can use various things he has to craft medicines.
- Morale Mechanic: Present amongst your group, and affected by your decisions, such as whether you'll have to go hungry some days, or, on the contrary, can afford double rations at others.
- The Pioneer: You and everyone on your team, since this is the journey of Lewis And Clark.
- Point Build System: Picking specific answers during dialogues gives Meriweather points associated with Leader, Soldier, Diplomat and Scientist skill trees, which are in turn split into 2-3 branches.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: Treating the ailments of your party members is done as a minigame where you are given a 5 x 5 grid of red, yellow and green medicine bottles, and must match them in a specific order to concoct the right treatment.
- Wizard Needs Food Badly: Downplayed. Your group needs food to eat, but this is handled by a simple choice at the end of the day: consume a day's worth of rations, go hungry and suffer a hit to morale, or eat double rations and boost it.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Used inconsistently during the prologue. While Meriweather himself addresses Dr. Caster Wilstar with "you", he only responds with "thee" and "thine", but still slips towards "you" at some points.
- You Have Researched Breathing: Lewis needs to invest four Scientist points into the starting skill of the Naturalist tree to unlock the ability to...use a spyglass. Either that, or he can invest these points into the starting skill of the Intellectual tree, "Fetch" - as in, teaching his dog to fetch sticks and birds.