Jurassic Park: The Game Review
Telltale makes adventure games — the slow-moving brainy click-stuff-with-a-mouse kind. Jurassic Park is one of these, but it has the fundamental problem of being a game filled with dinosaurs that move fast and attack people. So, at least on paper, I can get behind QTEs: in an adventure game, in which your role is not action-oriented and in which story is important, QTEs aren’t a bad idea of a way to add tension and fast action to a game that’s not built for either.
In practice, however, QTEs often fall short of being fun, pretty much by their nature. I’m not as adamantly opposed to them as a design philosophy as some of my colleagues, but it’s hard to spend an entire game essentially playing Simon Sez to avoid being eaten by dinosaurs. In the case of Jurassic Park, the QTE system is serviceable, if kind of annoying. Each scenario presents you with a medal (gold, silver or bronze) that ranks your performance through it. Screw up a QTE and your medal drops down a peg, eventually going from gold to silver and so on. You also run the risk of screwing up badly enough that your character is killed in an often fairly brutal (if neutered with the lack of flying limbs or blood) way.
Trouble is, these QTEs are generally kind of annoying. Many stack in sequence, requiring you to push a combination of keys (on the PC version, they’re all arrows or WASD keys, but if you play on a console or with a gamepad, you’ll use face buttons) without knowing the combination ahead of time. Sometimes you have lots of time to push the right keys, sometimes you have no time at all. Trying to keep up with the QTEs can get frustrating when you have no idea what’s really required of you, and what you see on the screen doesn’t always really translate into what you feel like you’re making happen with your reflexes. It’s an imperfect system, and it’s easy to grow weary of it.
The rest of Telltale’s approach to Jurassic Park feels out of place, as well. Puzzles put some insane breaks on the action, with characters taking time out from running away screaming to stare blankly at an electrical panel and scratch their heads. The puzzles can be challenging and work well in the Telltale style, but they feel strange here, in Jurassic Park. Clicking the right sequence on a computer terminal or figuring out the changed-daily code for an elevator just feels out of place in an intense survival situation, and the change of pace is almost always jarring.
All of this could be forgiven to some degree or another if Jurassic Park had a highly engaging story or some really great characters. Sadly, it doesn’t. This isn’t a group of likable scientists, as in the original film, but a group that consists largely of slightly dickish roughneck mercenaries. That they have sob stories doesn’t really soften the things they do. What’s more, the sequences in which you get to “play” as any of them — which refers to your ability to choose dialog options when those characters interact with other characters at certain specific points — are lackluster because whatever dialog you choose for those characters doesn’t matter. One option generally pushes the story forward, and the other exist for you to choose them only to find that they dead-end the conversation. Character interactions, then, are just clicking on dialog options until you find the correct one and waiting until the next QTE.
Jurassic Park: The Game feels like a game that really just didn’t need to be made. It lacks a core nugget of fun or interest to justify its existence — it’s neither driven by a great new Jurassic Park story, nor is it an especially gripping gameplay experience. In the end, it’s kind of like stumbling upon hatched dinosaur eggs on Isla Nublar in the film: the game suggests something bigger and more interesting was here, but is itself ultimately hollow and kind of boring. Upon finishing Jurassic Park’s four episodes, one doesn’t really come away with anything but a reminder to go pop in a really good movie from 1993.
- Continues the original Jurassic Park story
- Not necessarily a bad way to inject some action into a point-and-click adventure title
- Revisiting Isla Nublar
- Solid, interesting puzzles
- A few really great dinosaur escape sequences
- Lacks a strong plot
- Quick-time events feel somewhat haphazard in their speed and variation
- Jarring changes in pace
- Characters are all kind of annoying
- Feels like the wrong way to tell a Jurassic Park story
Final Score: 68/100
Page 1 | Page 2
Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.