Where is the Jurassic Park adventure game we deserve?

Where is the Jurassic Park adventure game we deserve?
Universal Studios | Telltale Games

Written by 

Joseph Kime


3rd Mar 2022 16:49

We've had some great games that have been adapted from the big screen.

Though the general consensus is that movie tie-in games are pretty rough, we've had some absolute diamonds over the years - Toy Story 2, Spider-Man 2, The Matrix: Path of Neo, and even the tie-in for X-Men Origins: Wolverine had some genius concepts that carried it beyond mediocrity. The worlds of cinema have proven themselves to be more than worthy of further exploration in an interactive medium - but some cinematic icons aren't getting the love they deserve.

We've seen what happened to Alien, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, even Scarface, bizarrely - but one movie franchise has quietly prospered for years - Jurassic Park.

We've had a successful string of games based on the Steven Spielberg classic now, offering an experience practically exclusive to the film's framework. But secretly, it's not what we all want from a Jurassic Park game. And there's a reason we haven't got that magical game that ties up what the film is all about.

What's Wrong With Jurassic Park's Park Builder Games?

Where Is The Jurassic Park Adventure Game We Deserve?
Click to enlarge
Frontier Developments

The Jurassic Park flag in the video game world has been waved by park builders for some time now - and it's truly no surprise. The franchise seems tailor-made for the genre, giving players a chance to build their own Jurassic capitalist utopias a la Zoo Tycoon, and allowing them to have a Jurassic Park experience without having to engage with a narrative. It works, and since Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, we've seen the launch of the incredibly popular Jurassic World Evolution and the announcement of its sequel. And it must be said, these games are fantastic at doing what they're designed to do.

Yet, it's not exactly the Jurassic Park experience, is it? It's a lot of fun to create your own theme park and inevitably unleash hordes of carnivorous genetic freaks upon your adoring patrons - but you don't get that same wonderment that we're used to getting from the 1993 cinematic classic. The magic of seeing the Brachiosaurus for the first time, fleeing the T-Rex, exploring the labs, jungles, and dusty paths of Isla Nubar - that's the experience we're after. So why haven't we got it yet?

Where Are The Jurassic Park Adventure Games?

Where Is The Jurassic Park Adventure Game We Deserve?
Click to enlarge
Telltale Games

I think it's safe to say we've all got similar dreams of what the perfect Jurassic Park game would look like. Arriving at Isla Nubar to see those giant doors creak open, gazing across vast terrain peppered with magnificent, once-extinct beasts, and pelting it away from an incoming wall of T-Rexes. It sounds like a magic formula, and one that couldn't fail - but with every passing day, it becomes less and less likely to appear by the day.

The trouble is, the magic of Jurassic Park isn't just the fact that its characters are involved in dino-themed action - it's very much a sum of its parts. The direction from Steven Spielberg, Dean Cundey's cinematography, the special effects of Stan Winston Studio and of course, the incredible score by industry legend John Williams. Without these things, Jurassic Park begins to fall apart, as exemplified by the fall from grace that came with Jurassic Park III, and the critical disappointment of the Jurassic World series. Take these things away, and it's just Turok.

With every day that passes, we move further away from a video game landscape that would champion an open-world adventure across Isla Nubar. Gamers are increasingly demanding, calling for worlds that are as expansive as they are meticulously detailed, and Isla Nubar isn't big enough of a locale to contend with other games of the genre beyond the initial draw of recognisability. With Dying Light 2 making such a dramatic deal of how long the game is, it's clear that developers are pushing to be bigger, rather than better - and it'd take a developer some convincing to take on such an iconic locale for this reason.

The only way such a small world could operate in a truly interesting way is with a strong story - and it has been attempted before in the shape of Telltale Games' Jurassic Park: The Game in 2011. But naturally, their story-forward QTE-heavy style didn't exactly make for a critical smash. It's sad, but the narrative of a Jurassic Park game would naturally sit in the shadow of one of the most impressive films of all time, and simply wouldn't stand a chance against it. Developers have the JP legacy to contend with, so it's no surprise that they're reluctant to take it up.

Jurassic Park's Adventure Game May Never Come

Where Is The Jurassic Park Adventure Game We Deserve?
Click to enlarge
Universal Studios

Perhaps around the Xbox 360 era, a Jurassic Park adventure title could really work - the likes of the Tomb Raider reboot and Bioshock Infinite prove that small worlds can prosper with the right direction. Sadly, though, without Spielberg, it's hard to imagine a Jurassic Park game that feels right. The incredibly specific magic of the film can be attributed directly to those who created it, and now, we're much too far gone to make an attempt to replicate it.

The series' park builder games are still fantastic, as they choose to lean on an entirely different format of gameplay that doesn't require much narrative heavy-lifting or intense programming. But that game that we've all been hoping for since the '90s may simply be, to quote one Dr Ian Malcolm - "one big pile of s**t."

Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.

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