I love platformers and I love dinosaurs, but that combination didn’t work well together in Dinocide, a new PC platformer from AtomicTorch Studio.
Dinocide stars an unnamed Caveman who must rescue a Cavewoman from a gigantic monster that scooped her away from a picnic. The player must guide the Caveman through many levels of jungles, swamps, deserts, and ice caverns as he slays beasts while searching for the Cavewoman.
While Dinocide threw a prehistoric pantheon of dinosaurs and giant insects at me for my Caveman to defeat, the game oddly features dragons, skeleton dancers, pig zombies, and what I gathered to be a laser-spitting walrus-creature. The inclusion of these creatures is certainly silly, but it felt too random and disorienting. A bit more creative logic would have helped the game feel more cohesive.
The enemies all behave in the sort of mindless, run-at-you or run-back-and-forth ways that I’d expect to see in a game that is 25+ years old. That along with the audio and video give the game that NES-feel that the developers were aiming for. Those elements are spot on.
With that said, video games have come a long way in 25 years, and what people were playing and having fun with in 1991 doesn’t automatically translate to a fun experience in 2016. While I’d hate to describe Dinocide as “boring”, I will say that I grew tired of playing the game very early on in my time with it. I just couldn’t find much of a reason to get excited about what I was experiencing.
Hoping onto the dinosaurs that you can ride around on was fun, but they are all largely the same; you can use their ranged attacks to compliment your own, but other than the T-rex that allowed me to knock out boulders with its fireball attack and the Plesiosaurus that allowed me to mount it underwater, I never found any real reason to pick one over the other.
There is an interesting mechanic involving your health bar though. Once you begin the level, your health slowly ticks away, even when you’re not taking damage. The only way to replenish it is by picking up the food that is floating around the levels. The levels were always generous with the placement of the food items though, and the levels themselves were pretty short, so I never found myself dying unless I took a few hits from an enemy.
Perhaps if the food was strung out a little more it would have increased the very little tension I experienced while playing the game, into something that would create a challenge for the player.
Dinocide isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t one that I found very fun. While it successfully replicates a game experience from a quarter century ago, some things, like the dinosaurs, are best left in the past.
A review copy of Dinocide was provided to The Indie Game Magazine by the developers.