Dinosaur Fossil Hunter Review | GameGrin
Raise your hand if you always wanted to be a paleontologist as a child. Go ahead and raise it, it’s good. Many children (and adults) develop a strange fascination with dinosaurs; something that jurassic park certainly encouraged. The problem is, paleontology is an incredibly competitive field that’s hard to get into, so the idea of a simulator that lets you live out that dream is certainly very appealing. With my emotional support Orthocera fossil in hand, I jumped at the chance to try Dinosaur Fossil Hunter.
As your escapades begin, the tone is immediately set with music reminiscent of old adventure movies and a charming narrator. You are guided through an interactive introduction as you are told the story of the main character and how he grew from his childhood love of dinosaurs to paleontology. Making a dino drawing by numbers was a highlight and as the idea of asking my mom to put it on the fridge came to mind, the Steam hit “Dad I drew a dinosaur” popped up, which was pretty funny at the time.
Unfortunately, once that’s over, it starts to go downhill. There was more explanation of how to put together wooden dinosaurs than the actual mechanics of the game. There’s very little to point you in the right direction and you’re often left floundering until you finally understood it.
Navigating the dig sites can be quite a pain, as you often get stuck, buried under other rocks while digging, or struggle to get up and out of the hole you’ve dug. It doesn’t get much better when you get in the car because it’s hard to control and crashing into the nearest ditch just can’t be good for the fossils in the back. Cutting through fallen trees and large rocks blocking the road isn’t necessarily a bad feature, but it does feel like filler content that’s generally useless.
The environment design is a bit boring; there doesn’t seem to have been much care or thought in creating the dig sites or the museum, but this is somewhat compensated for in other areas. Being accompanied by orchestral music while admiring the scenery certainly uplifts it. Without some polish, the graphics look quite nice and aim more for realism.
Once you have “safely” brought the fossils back to the museum, you need to clean them up! Sure, cleaning isn’t the most fun activity in the world, but somehow when you do it in games (especially with dinosaur bones) it’s a lot More fun. That being said, I’m probably going to have nightmares trying to clean tiny little bones and desperately brushing over them. I swear you need to aim really small better than you do in most FPS games. There’s a small zoom window to let you see better but it’s quite uncomfortable to use. It might be better if you could focus on the bones individually rather than having them all hanging awkwardly in the air in rows.
Going through the preparation process is worth it, however, when you finally get to piece together a tyrannosaurus rex. Building the skeletons is a lot of fun, although I wished there was a hotkey to automatically pick up the next bone. Once assembled, you can actually build the exhibit it will be displayed in. Choosing the terrain, vegetation, and rocks to use allows you to let your inner Cretaceous designer out.
The camera controls are not intuitive and hard to get used to, especially when driving the car to and from the dig site. While some aspects of the game’s design are frustrating, it’s nice to see that Dinosaur Fossil Hunter has the option to change the font to a more basic/simple version (as opposed to the original handwriting), which is great for accessibility.
A visually appealing game with an amazing core concept but unfortunately quite frustrating to play. In general, it feels like the focus is on quantity over quality – with a lot of filler content that doesn’t really have much to do with the intent of the title. Luckily, in the latest patch notes, developer Pyramid Games said they plan to improve things in future updates, so there’s still hope.
Bonus picture of my Orthocera fossil.