In late January, AtomicTorch Studio, previously known for VoidExpanse, released Dinocide as a casual singe player adventure game that uses RPG elements to provides a satisfying indie tribute to 8-Bit Gaming. However, for the atmosphere, graphics and sound this game brings, it lacks the content and innovation to justify the price tag.
In Dinocide, the players take on the role as a prehistoric caveman. The story begins with the caveman relaxing on the beach with his girlfriend, when the evil ‘Dinosaur god’ then kidnaps her and returns to the other side of the world; it is your job to rescue her and endure on an adventure across the prehistoric world. In itself, the plot is very simple but effective as it gives a short cut scene in the beginning of the game. The cut scene itself was enjoyable and well animated, introducing the player to the prehistoric world and giving the little context the game needs to provide an excuse for an adventure.
While the simplistic plot adds a nostalgic sense of value to the game, it is the two game modes that begins restricting and compiling the game into a basic formula. The modes are either the adventure or speedrun. The heart of the game is the adventure mode while speedrun is seven random levels that give you a grade based on the time the player can complete each one. The completion of each level in both modes depended on the approach players would take through the gameplay.
Unlike many other traditional platformers where the player has a health bar informing them the amount of health they have, in Dinocide the health bar acts as both the health and time the player has to complete the level. The mehanic was clever; it gives the player a level of urgency and skill that many platformer games simply dismiss with a timer. The caveman character himself will die if the player does not pick up the food scattered across the level which, when picked up ads health back to the player. This adds a layer of strategy because players could either rush the level or take their time to survive by platforming up to the food. It is because of the players need to survive by eating food that the caveman prehistoric theme fits so well. Dinocide is a game that also provided a fun experience with dinosaurs. Players can find the egg of a dinosaur and pick it up to ride a dinosaur that gives one additional ability. For example the T-rex could breathe fire while a triceraptors could release ice beams in all directions. The four dinosaurs that players encounter are from each of the environments the game provides.
While the mechanics of the health system was innovative, the rest of the game mechanics were similar and stale in comparison to other platformers such as Super Mario Bros and Adventure Island, for example — holding the jump button can increase the height of the jump. The frustration of Dinocide lies in the mechanics behind the item system. Players can progress throughout the game, they can attain items such as an axe, arrows or even a dinosaur. However, if the player dies once with the item/dinosaur equipped, they will lose them permanently. This added a level of disappointment and punishment that felt undeserved because each of the dinosaurs themselves are rare in the game. The only way to earn dinosaurs again were to buy them from the in-game gem shop with gems you found hidden throughout the level. While the shops were uncommon, the problem Dinocide encounters is that players can not travel back to play the previous levels to earn weapons, dinosaurs or even to simply use a shop. The biggest issue of the game was the lack of content and replayability, Dinocide is a game that merely lasts a couple of hours, however provides a satisfying nostalgic 8-bit game experience.
While the general gameplay has no difficulty, the controls were easy to use and familiar to any player who has experience with any platformer. They consist of moving, using a weapon and the dinosaur ability. The dinosaur abilities and levels gave a great sense of nostalgia as the 8-bit sound design came into play. The sound design along with the fantastic atmosphere was one the most memorable moments of the game as it felt immersing, engaging and emotional. Some of the best moments of Dinocide was admiring the sound, 8-bit graphics and atmosphere as it provided a sense of nostalgia and brought back fond memories of 8-bit gaming — whether it was the evil and mysterious Dinosaur God kidnapping the girl in a pleasant cutscene or simply admiring the environments. Along with the commendable and satisfying sound/atmosphere Dinocide provides, the graphics felt reminiscent of the NES games and gave a sense of travelling back decades. Dinocide is a game that can easily convince parents that it was a part of their childhood because of the 8-bit art, sound and atmosphere Dinocide provides.
In conclusion, Dinocide is a game that reaches the levels of nostalgia felt from the old days of gaming. The prehistoric platformer provides a great tribute to 8-bit platforming with the graphics, sound design and atmosphere. However, the bland gameplay of Dinocide can only provide so much entertainment as the levels are generic and are only broken up by the refreshing boss fights.
Dinocide is a strong recommendation for fans of nostalgia, platforming and dinosaurs. If the game goes on discount, it is worth the investment. However players will be left questioning whether the couple of hours of content is really worth the price of admission.
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