Out now on PC and consoles, Dinosaurs: Mission Dino Camp is technically aimed at children. But as a very blatant Jurassic Park rip-off, it had us intrigued. To be honest, pretty much anything with dinosaurs does. Aren’t we all just eight-year-old kids on the inside, still getting excited over T-Rexes and Stegosauruses? Naturally, we couldn’t resist jumping in, and despite the awfully bland environments, the god-awful acting, atrocious characters and monotonous gameplay, we still keep playing. Why? Because dinosaurs. And because we’re hoping that maybe it’ll get better (spoiler: it won’t).
Arriving in a helicopter as a new guy, you’re immediately recruited into a very questionably-run dinosaur sanctuary. There seems to be only a handful of members of staff, and we’re not sure we’d trust any of them with the welfare of a goldfish, let alone a sick pachycephalosaurus. But, for some reason, they’re running a vast dino park in Africa (rich parents, we’re guessing) and doing a pretty bad job of it. In our first two days, both our jobs comprised of helping two sick dinosaurs, with ne’er a healthy one in sight. Hmm.
And so, Dinosaurs: Mission Dino Camp sees you set to work as a skivvy, running left, right and centre to repair ladders, tranquilise dinosaurs so they can be treated, take photos of them (?), and generally do the jobs nobody else can be bothered to do. Oh, but before you can tranquilise the dinosaurs, you’ve got to gather the plants to make the tranquiliser. Seems to us like something a reputable sanctuary should already have on hand.
Alas, the dinosaur department of the RSPCA is nowhere to be seen, so hopefully with your help this shoddy wannabe Jurassic Park can get whipped into shape. Unlikely, since the game seemingly only covers your first week on the job. We’ve not got that far yet, so we’re assuming things are so bad that even your character ups and leaves back to civilisation. We’ll have to wait and see.
Talking to your colleagues is a painful experience, because watching their faces as they talk to you is uncomfortable and unsettling. And the less we say about the voice acting, the better. Wooden doesn’t even come close. Each day, you’ll be given a series of tasks from them, which generally see you running backwards and forwards across the site. Purposefully awful mapping makes getting around an unpleasant experience: you’ll need to climb ladders, jump over obstacles and navigate tight paths. None of which is fun to do, because the platforming mechanics here are, well, none-existent, really. Fall off a cliff – which you will, frequently – and you’ll simply get a loading screen, taking you back to where you just were.
Perhaps our favourite thing is when Dinosaurs: Mission Dino Camp lets you loose behind the wheel of a jeep. This is when you’ll really feel like Sam Neill. Well, for a second or two, until you go over a bump in the road and end up tipping your vehicle upside down. Ah, there’s that loading screen again.
There are far fewer dinosaurs in Dinosaurs: Mission Dino Camp than one would have hoped, too. In our first two in-game days, we saw only two: both injured and laying down on the ground. We’re hoping more will rear their faces later on in the game – and hopefully they’re in good health for a change – but our dreams of driving a jeep through the legs of a Brachiosaurus or coming face-to-face with a T-Rex have yet to be realised. We’re not holding out too much hope, either.
Dinosaurs: Mission Dino Camp has been entertaining us for all the wrong reasons, and while it’s got a laugh or two out of us, we can’t emphasise just how bad this game is. If you like the idea of running around a dull and boring knock-off of Jurassic Park, by all means, have at it – but wait until it’s deeply, deeply discounted. It’s a shame, because with toy brand Schleich sticking its name on it, we expected a bit more quality to be found here. Instead, there’s shoddiness around every corner, and gameplay that’s way more boring than something involving dinosaurs has any right to be.
Dinosaurs: Mission Dino Camp is available on PS4, PS5, Switch and PC.