I’ve decided to endorse your game.
The first moments of Jurassic World Evolution filled me with such boyhood wonder as I witnessed my first dinosaur creation come to life through glasses of pure nostalgia. It was a wondrous moment, though only a Struthiomimus, as the gates opened and life truly had found a way. Even hearing the classic Jurassic Park theme when booting up the game sparked long-forgotten feelings.
In many ways, Jurassic World Evolution is a typical building sim. You’ll need to place buildings such as the Hammond creation lab, where you’ll incubate your dinosaurs before releasing them into the enclosure you’ve designed, or facilities for guests such as shops and restaurants. You’re free to design your enclosures as you wish, with a variety of fences, viewing areas and landscaping options. While there are plenty of building options, you’re fairly limited as to what you can build for most of the game, and this can cause gameplay to stagnate somewhat as you progress on a particular island. Once you’ve built everything you need, your focus will be on repairing fences and returning escaped dinos, lest your park follow the fate of Dr Hammond’s.
You can build parks on a variety of islands, and getting to a certain rank on an island will allow you to progress on to the next. Each island brings its own challenge, whether it’s being subject to repeated storms that drive away your guests and damage buildings, or taking over from an existing park that’s making heavy financial losses. These themes for each island help to keep the game fresh, as do the research and expedition systems. By investing in research you can discover new cures for various diseases infecting your dinos, improve your ranger team and add upgrades to buildings. In a similar fashion, expedition teams can be sent out across the globe to retrieve fossils – increasing the amount of dinosaurs you can raise, and their likelihood of survival.
It’s true what Dr Ian Malcolm quotes in the original Jurassic Park film; life finds a way – a way to escape from your enclosures no matter how careful you are. This can become frustrating when you’ve released more and more dangerous dinos. And if you don’t have or fail to open your shelters, you’re sure to lose reputation as the hapless civilians are chased down by an angry Ankylosaurus, or mercilessly torn apart by a T-Rex.
There’s an impressive amount of dinosaurs that you can incubate, with 40 species, pattern customisation and various different researchable genes you can apply to your dinos, increasing their combat stats, immunity to disease or even how long they are likely to live. Witnessing your new creation stride proudly out of the incubation lab never gets repetitive, and it’s distractingly entertaining just watching them explore their paddock, feed, and interact with the other dinosaurs.
It’s clear that an incredible amount of research and care has gone into every visual and auditory aspect of each dinosaur. The way they move, right down to the smallest twitch of the head at an intriguing sound seems incredibly lifelike. Watch Struthiomimus explore his paddock and it’s clear how much like an ostrich they move – as they should, given their name means ‘ostrich mimic’. The noises and cries that each dinosaur make are unique and instantly recognisable. The screech of a Velociraptor as he catches his unfortunate prey released from the live feeder will inevitably remind the player of the kitchen scene from the first Jurassic Park film.
It’s this level of attention to detail that keeps Jurassic World Evolution interesting. As does the division system. Various missions will be offered to you throughout the game from one of the three divisions: science, entertainment and security. As you complete missions with one your respect with the division increases, but decreases for the others. This allows you new research options from your preferred division, but can lead to sabotage from the others.
Missions range from having two dinosaurs fight one another to having no civilian deaths for a period of time. Sabotages feel slightly strange when they occour. Snubbing the security division, they chose to damage my power plants, reducing their output to the entire park. This can’t be good for their own goals, surely?
The pace of the game is something that could be improved. Beginning a new island feels very slow, as you gradually earn enough money for your first dinosaurs, and basically wait to earn more money before you build up your park. Midway through an island’s campaign and it’s chaotic, but a lot of fun. Churning out dinosaurs, managing your shelters, expeditions and research, tranquilising rogue dinos and returning them to base ensures there’s always a lot going on at once. Then when in the final stages of an island, trying to reach the five star ranking, your park pretty much takes care of itself – save for escapees – and money becomes useless as your earnings soar.
Jurassic World Evolution is perhaps the most beautiful-looking building sim I’ve played. The islands look amazing, whether zoomed out to view the entire landscape or zoomed right in to the visitors wondering your park. The dinosaurs themselves are incredibly detailed, from wrinkles in their scaly hides to the ferociously sharp teeth and claws. Each island that you’re able to build on has unique flora and landscapes waiting for you to tear them down and build upon.
The fact that you can drive the ranger cars or even pilot your helicopters allows you a different view of your park. You can even photograph your dinosaurs from the vehicle and sell them to earn money. The controls feel very clunky with keyboard and mouse; however, the entire game can be played via controller. Both have their advantages – the controller allows better camera manipulation, but the UI is considerably easier to navigate with a mouse.
Despite some problems with pacing throughout the game, and the division system which isn’t quite convincingly executed, Jurassic World Evolution is the game all dinosaur fans have been waiting for since watching Jurassic Park as a child.
A fan of indie RPGs, Andrew splits his time between grinding for XP, and writing about grinding for XP. As well as running our news section, Andrew eats a medically inadvisable amount of Marmite.