IFComp 2020: Big Trouble in Little Dino Park

We start with the wry premise of a world where jurassic parks are cheap and plentiful but not always reputable or well-run. The player takes the role of an entry-level employee at such a zoo, earning minimum wage by throwing buckets of fish to the dinos, but it doesn’t take long before a dinosaur rights extremist gets at the button opens all the electronic locks and sets everything free. Chaos and carnage ensue. The rest of the story is spent dodging large predators in a choice-based interface, usually three or so options at a time, often including backing off to try other routes: go through the cloning labs where scientists are menaced by what the game calls “velociraptors” (although they’re considerably larger than the real thing), or head for the docks and leap from boat to boat as a mosasaur smashes them, or whatever.

In a way, it reminds me of a certain genre of game I remember from my youth: dreadful little branching peril dungeons written in BASIC by bored middle-school students. That is, there are lots of choices that lead to immediate death, without much of a way to predict which ones they are other than by replaying it. It’s more entertaining than those, though, and also has a more of a world model. Come back to an area later and it’ll be in a more advanced state of devastation. If it works, anyway — at one or two points, I repeated an action and found myself stuck, without any choices to select. This frustrated me enough to give up before completing the game, even though it’s apparently fairly short. I imagine such glitches will be fixed before long, though, as the author solicits bug reports on the Twitch page housing the game. (Yes, this game is hosted externally, and the Comp’s “Download” link just gives you a page with a hyperlink to Twitch instead of the actual game content, even though it’s ultimately just made of HTML and Javascript and doesn’t require a server or anything. And yes, I’m going to gripe about this every time it happens.)

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