I feel like I’ve had a complicated relationship with “Jurassic Park.” Growing up I loved the movies, had all the toys, etc… Yet after working with the franchise during my tenure at Ludia, I sort of fell out of love with it. Jurassic Park started to become less about everything the movies stood for, and I started to associate it more with my experiences with that project and team. While listening to “My Favorite Murder,” a true crime comedy podcast, I got turned onto a new podcast by Steven Ray Morris called “See Jurassic Right.” Let me start by saying that it’s a pretty cheesy podcast, and I could easily see people not being into it… Yet I got sucked in and began to remember my love for the franchise all over again. In preparation for the next movie, I decided to jump on board and play Jurassic World Evolution. When I was first looking into the game, it was getting pretty mixed reviews… but I decided to get it anyways and honestly I’m not disappointed. In today’s post I’m going to be talking a bit about my experiences with the game, and what it’s like to play as John Hammond.
Jurassic World Evolution is a pretty standard “theme park” sim game, with the added twist of maintaining and raising Dinosaurs. The game takes place on “Las Cinco Muertes” or “The Five Deaths,” an island chain introduced in the original Jurassic Park movie. Jurassic World Evolution does a great job at using this chain of islands as a sort of difficulty range and tutorial. As you progress through the different islands you’re introduced to new building and dinosaur types and challenges, as well as environmental factors like storms and diseases. There was one moment where my dinosaurs were coming down with a form of the Avian Flu, but I didn’t have the research to cure it yet… and money was tight. So I started air lifting the sick dinosaurs to a separate enclosure that was being built, to quarantine them. While stressed, I had to laugh at my suddenly dire strategy and hope all my dinosaurs didn’t die. Something Jurassic World Evolution does extremely well is, while the game has its own narrative, the game naturally enables players to work out their own stories. When asked about the game, I found myself explaining to friends just how fussy Ankylosauruses are and how it had caused a huge problem for me at first. The system the game creates can breath a life of its own, and at times “life finds a way…”
As soon as I made sure to have a few others around, they really proved easy to manage. Unlike the Dilophosaurus… those guys are just jerks. I had also made the mistake with my first Tyrannosaur thinking they would also be social creatures, thinking of the two T-Rexes in “The Lost World,” but I was sorely mistaken when I released two of them into the same area. I think it’s always the herbivores that shock me the most. I’m always paranoid about making sure the carnivores aren’t getting into trouble, so I typically forget about how the herbivores are doing, and suddenly they’ve busted out and are running down innocent park goers. Overall the system behind the dinosaur’s behavior makes it feel dynamic and allows you to feel like you “understand” the dinosaurs.
When you’re not managing the needs of your Dinosaurs, it’s the Park’s Guests you’re trying to keep happy. Without people coming and spending money at your park, you have no revenu to build. Jurassic World Evolution does a great job at helping the player understand the needs of the guests. While you might have some great dinos, you may not have enough variety or not enough places to “view” these creatures. Guests have pretty standard needs like food, entertainment, and lodging. When building these types of commercial buildings, you’re actually able to micromanage them pretty heavily… setting how many people work there and even how much they sell “dino nuggets” for. It allows you to really dig deep into your park and determine how greedy you really want to be. There’s also three different divisions within your park giving you quests; Entertainment, Science, and Security. Increasing your “rep” with these divisions grant specific rewards for your park, either in specific bonuses or new buildings/Dino options. The only downside being that if you favor one division too heavily, it’ll negatively impact influence in another. I found this system to be pretty frustrating at times, for instance if the Security Division wants me to raise two dinosaurs… I don’t know why the Science group would become angry at me. That being said, balancing these relationships doesn’t seem too difficult thus far yet it’s something that keeps me paranoid. If one of the divisions becomes too “angry” with you, some of their personnel might attempt to sabotage your park. This is something I’ve only experienced once thus far in the game, and it’s rough… suddenly all of my Power Stations went down, and I had to send rangers out to fix them. From what I can tell there’s no real upgrades or systems you could build to really prevent human sabotage. Although the game may introduce more aspects to this later on, it definitely adds a layer of chaos and stress into the game. Just when you become cocky enough to think that you’ve built a park that would put John Hammond to shame, it could all go down with one “Dennis Nedry.”
Overall I’ve been really enjoying the game, it’s fun to build your own theme park, release dinosaurs, etc. Although I do find it odd that the game has no “Day and Night” cycle… so much of the ambiance from the movies take place at night, and I could only imagine how cool my park might look all lite up… it just feels like an odd design decision. Also the game allows you to mess pretty heavily with dino DNA, but at the end of the day we can’t really create our own unique hybrids like the “Indominus Rex” from Jurassic World. While it’s fun to get different cosmetic options, I really want to see some changes when I add Shark DNA into something. There’s still a ton about the game I haven’t really dived into, but if you’ve made it this far and find yourself curious… I would just go pick up the game. Although the price tag is a bit higher than it probably should be, for what it is I’ve really enjoyed my time with it.
I make games, I play games... and sometimes I have some thoughts about that.