It’s been on my wishlist for a while now, I must have missed the sales. It’s in the May Humble Bundle, making it an easy purchase. Doesn’t include scenario DLC, but it does include some extra dinosaurs.
It is a “tycoon” type game. You build a park, fill it with murdering monsters, and hope you get people to come buy t-shirts. Replace the dinosaurs with caged clowns and there really isn’t a whole lot that changes. ‘Cept maybe I wouldn’t feel as bad when one passes away.
Anyhoot, the main campaign has you build 5 main parks, all with the same goals, though there are slightly different factors for each. Either you start in the hole, or it’s an island that gets a lot of storms (damage), or it’s some weird shape. Before I go into the game mechanics, I will say that the transition to one park to another is dumb. Say you have $40m in park 1, you start park 2 with $500k. All your research transfers. All your dinosaur research transfers. You can even transfer fossils (which you can sell for quick cash) but it’s still dumb. I know how to run a park. I just did it. All it does is forces you to swap back to park 1, do some digs, then sell the fossils in park 2.
The game mechanics are simple enough. Run digs to get fossils. Research fossils to get % increases to dinosaur genomes. Use those genomes to breed dinosaurs. House/feed dinosaurs. Breed different ones and raise the cool factor of the park, which brings more visitors. Visitors want to poop, eat, and play. Build stuff for them to spend money. Repeat. Become millionaire.
Of course it’s Jurassic Park, so stuff goes sideways. Herbivores are simple enough, they get along. Nearly every carnivore hates other dinosaurs, so you need to spread them out. They will break their cages, so you need double walls. You need people to feed them, repair cages, cure diseases. You need people to tranquilize dinosaurs who get out and see people as a buffet. Manage power, prices, roads, and a bunch of other stuff and things work (more or less). This is sort of like disaster management, and some dinosaurs are much more annoying than others (raptors especially).
It may seem complex, but after park 1, it’s all pretty simple. Where the game comes into play is in the faction management. There are 3 factions (science, entertainment, security) that offer contracts (mini quests, 3 total at any time), and missions (more complex lists of tasks, 1 per faction, per park). Raise the faction standing, and there are some minor monetary benefits. The larger benefit is that the faction stops sabotaging you (like, wth). Security doesn’t like you? They turn off the power and dinosaurs eat people. Faction going up for one, drops the other 2, and doesn’t transfer between parks. Fine.
Contracts are simple steps. Sell a dinosaur that’s like X, build Y, make Z dollars. There are weird ones, like staging dinosaur fights. There are some monetary rewards, but frankly you just want to raise the bar to unlock some research options.
Missions are multi-step items that explain game concepts. How to breed special genes. How power works. How storms work. How comfort works. In general, these are straightforward. The missions that force you into a negative state often cause cascading failures. And if things go really wrong, you fail the mission and need to do it again. It’s cool to teach concepts, but it seems like it was designed by someone who understands everything about the game. It assumes you know how to complete the tasks without saying how.
The Real Stuff
Frankly, that’s gripes over smaller bits. You know what matters? I’m breeding DINOSAURS. And they look AWESOME.
And really, taking a step back, the gaming cycle feels good. It doesn’t get old to have a T-Rex come out of the shop. It’s amazing to see a diplodocus eating from the trees. The monorail is neat. Building pens feels fun. Terraforming just works.
And it feels good to go back to a previous park with all the knowledge and upgrades you unlocked down the road. There’s some optimization options, and getting 5 stars seems much more doable.
Some minor gripes aside, the game is fun and well worth $20. More than that.