Telltale Games Jurassic Park review
Telltale games, the studio behind such excellent episodic adventure franchises as the recent Sam & Max reboot, Monkey Island Adventures and Back to the Future, has taken something of a leap of faith with its latest release. Based on the hit Hollywood blockbuster, Jurassic Park attempts to explain what happened on Isla Nublar after everyone escaped the island at the end of the film.
However, unlike the rest of Telltale’s portfolio, the exploration and puzzle-solving elements have been stripped back in favour of a linear path interspersed with repetitive quick time events. In the opening five minutes, we counted no less than twelve, and that’s even before the credits rolled.
Switching perspectives between a female mercenary tasked with recovering the dinosaur embryos stolen by Dennis Nedry, a park vet and the rescue team sent to save them, the game moves between characters at such a fast pace that you’re not given enough time to connect with them. Locations fly by quickly too - fans of the film are sure to enjoy seeing familiar locations throughout Isla Nublar, but unfortunately you can’t explore them as you wish – players control the camera, rather than the characters, moving onto the next scene once the puzzles are completed or conversations exhausted.
With no inventory system, the puzzles themselves could hardly be considered head-scratchers. There was no point in the game’s short five hour storyline that had us stuck for more than a few minutes – in most cases, choosing all the dialog options will be enough to move the adventure on to its next scene, making the game feel more like an interactive movie in places.
Unusually for an adventure game of this style, it’s possible to make a wrong decision or, more likely, fail a quick time event, and end up dead. During these sequences, dinosaurs pop out at you and keyboard commands pop on-screen – complete them in time and the dinosaur will be defeated or dodged, but miss them and your character will meet the business end of its teeth or claws. You’re forced to complete the entire sequence again if you fail, which can quickly get frustrating if you weren’t paying attention.
Telltale’s trademark visual style returns, with a little more emphasis on realism than the absurd eccentricities seen in Sam & Max, although character animations are still fairly stiff and the graphics verge on the simplistic. The dinosaurs themselves are slightly more impressively animated than the humans, but they don’t feel like the deadly predators they should because of some baffling design decisions that, in one section, sees you fighting off velociraptors in hand-to-hand combat. If the films have taught us anything, it’s that a human wouldn’t stand a chance would that situation happen for real.
Of all the developers we would expect to dumb down their games for the console crowd, Telltale certainly wasn’t one of them – it’s a real shame that mass appeal has stunted what would otherwise have been an interesting new look at a beloved franchise. Had it followed in the footsteps of Telltale’s other games, Jurassic Park may well have been a more enjoyable experience – as it is, there’s not a lot of gameplay for anyone that isn’t a die-hard fan of the film.
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