It’s been a while since I’ve played a park simulator and I honestly can’t think of any other game to jump back into it than Jurassic World Evolution. Frontier Developments are known for their park sims. Heck, their games are the only ones that I’ve played. I can safely say that a bit of my childhood gaming experience was with their games and I loved them back then. Now, they’ve brought the world of Steven Spielberg to life and once again we can actually run our very own Jurassic World (remember Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis?).
Right off the bat, I need to say that this game looks absolutely gorgeous. The game looks incredibly lifelike. From the texture of the dinosaurs’ skin to the individual blades of grass, not one thing was devoid of attention (to detail) and the end result is this gorgeous park simulator. Even park guests are quite unique to each other, with individual outfits and a variety of hairstyles. You can even spot couples holding hands, and I thought that was really cute.
Expecting to be put into a tutorial, I was surprised to not even realise I was already in it until about half an hour later. There wasn’t anyone telling me where to put this or that building (except for which building I should build) although there were nudges to which dino I should create first through a sort of quest system. It didn’t through me in the deep end like Frostpunk did but it didn’t hold my hand through the motions and that is the balance I really appreciate in a game like this. Though just like Frostpunk, I was given the freedom to build the park that I wanted from the get-go. Also… Jeff Goldblum narrating as Dr. Ian Malcolm brings you into the park and that was the best.
If foot traffic isn’t making you enough profits, you will also be able to gain money from selling fossils or your dinos (if you’re desperate), or by accomplishing Tasks given by the three Divisions of your Las Cinco Muertes Jurassic islands. Accepting one Task from one Division might not be a move favoured by the other Divisions. So on top of managing the park(s), you will have to play a balancing game with your reputation against the Science, Entertainment and Security divisions. If one gets too low further into the game, they’re going to play a game of sabotage and it’ll fall onto you to do damage control. Not bloody Cabot Finch. You. So keep an eye on your Reputation meters.
Then comes the waiting game. There are no time manipulation buttons here, so if you find that a dino has started to wreck the fence of its enclosure, you can’t pause and then assign a ranger to go fix the fence. Your awareness and reaction speed will be tested, and at the least expected of times. Not to worry though, the real challenges start rolling in once you’re on island number two. With each new island comes new challenges to learn to avoid and overcome (once again, with haste). From adverse weather conditions to sabotage, each challenge you face is as important as the other.
If you get ahead of yourself, you’ll find park funds running extremely low and if any damages occur, you’re in trouble. Watch your dino’s comfort levels closely or you’ll find that its gone and broke its encounter fence and started to terrorise the guests. It won’t be long before you find yourself swimming in legal fees. There are so many facets to this game and it makes me adore it so much more. But if you feel too overwhelmed, there is a nifty “Reset Island” button that lets you start the island over. As of yet, I haven’t had a reason to use it. Seems that I’ve good management skills in my blood...at least in video games
It was quite easy to get the hang of things. By hour 3 I’m on island two, clicking away quite automatically and by hour 4 I was mostly spending quality time with my dinos, snapping photos with my Rangers and making sure that darn Corythosaurus doesn’t break the fence for the umpteenth time. I haven’t had a moment of boredom as of yet, but my experiences might not be the same as yours. So let me know in the comments if you’ve played it and share your experience!
Jurassic World Evolution is available now on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We got a review code for the Deluxe version courtesy of developers, Frontier Developments. All screenshots were taken in-game by the writer.