Big Trouble in Little Dino Park

Big Trouble in Little Dino Park is a choice-based game made in Ink. In this game, dinosaur cloning has become commonplace, resulting in lots of dinosaur theme parks around the country. You play as a teenager working at one of these parks when something goes awry.

At first glance Big Trouble in Little Dino Park looks like a cross between Big Trouble in Little China and Jurassic Park. Knowing little about the former, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of its influence on the game. Perhaps just the name. But it was pretty easy to guess at the Jurassic Park aspect. I was expecting another variation on Michael Crichton’s tale of scientific hubris – how our rush to produce new science and new applications for that science without concern for the consequences can have disastrous effects. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should, after all.

That is not what Big Trouble in Little Dino Park is going for. Yes, disaster strikes. But this is an action-packed dark comedy, not an action-packed morality tale. I was reminded some of Animalia from IFComp 2018. And I laughed out loud when the game revealed the source of the disaster: That was some well-done misdirection.

Gameplay-wise, there are a few puzzles to solve if you want to successfully navigate the disaster. I died on my first try. After replaying a few times, I solved some of those puzzles and achieved a good ending – if not the best one. Unfortunately, in one area of the game your choices sometimes lead to the game freezing, and this area is where I think I still needed to do some work to get the best ending. And, also unfortunately, you can’t save your game. So I stopped, content with my good ending.

Overall, I enjoyed the sardonic humor and dark comedy of Big Trouble in Little Dino Park. The puzzles I did solve weren’t too hard, but they added some depth and complexity to the game. Unfortunately, my experience was marred somewhat by the game-ending bugs I found.

Side note: I have now played two games in this IFComp whose blurbs say something about a job that “you can really sink your teeth into.” One game is set in a dinosaur theme park; the other is set in academia. The reader is invited to draw her own conclusions.

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