I’ve always been a fan of adventure games – or point and clicks as they became affectionately known as. As a gaming genre, it’s capable more than any other of giving players a deep and cinematic story, with puzzles that require thought and logic. Well, that’s not always strictly true. There’s always the one completely illogical solution in which you end up going through your entire inventory until it turns out you actually had to combine two completely random objects.
Sadly, the genre fell into disarray, becoming perceived as old fashioned and too slow paced for modern gamers. Telltale Games set out to change this, spearheading a revival of classic adventure gaming. Not only this, but they’ve quickly become known for their fantastic storytelling and emphasis on plot. Previous games and licences like Sam and Max, Wallace and Gromit and Monkey Island have all been adapted into Telltale adventure games, remaining faithful to the original sources.
Back To The Future marked another turning point for Telltale; adapting a film series for the first time. Taking on the guise of a fourth film, the game admirably continued the time-travelling adventures of Doc and Marty, with Telltale also experimenting with more cinematic gameplay. More impressively, the game felt like a loyal extension of the film series. It was a well written adventure which delighted fans with its particular care taken to the beloved characters of the franchise. As part of a two film licensing agreement with Universal, they now follow up Back To The Future with another classic film licence – Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.
Set both during and immediately after Spielberg’s film, the game follows a number of different playable characters and a features an ingenious plot device which picks up on a loose end from the film. In Jurassic Park, Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) was seen trying to steal dino embryos and smuggle them out of the park. Nedry doesn’t quite achieve his goal, instead being blinded and eaten alive by a deceptively cute Dilophosaurus. We see him drop the fake shaving can containing the embryos, and that’s it… The plot point is left hanging for Telltale to continue 18 years later. It’s a clever idea and one which Telltale inform us remained the favourite pitch throuhgout the early inception of the game.
Interestingly though, Jurassic Park marks something of a departure for Telltale. Instead of following in the footsteps of Back To The Future with a traditional episodic point-and-click style, Jurassic Park incorporates a large amount of QTE sequences and interactive cut-scenes. The DNA of adventure gaming is still here, but Jurassic Park is far more akin to the cinematic gameplay of Heavy Rain. Telltale suggested that although many games now feature these sequences, particular care and attention has been paid to make these action sequences relentlessly thrilling and intense. The desired result is that fans will feel like they are playing through an interactive version of the Jurrasic Park movies.
The demonstration introduced us to an early level in the game, with Nedry’s jeep being discovered for the first time. Playing as Nima, a professional smuggler hired to retrieve the can of embryos, the opening scene was a great example of how Telltale work alongside the narrative of the film. Watching Nima approach the door of Nedry’s jeep, with us already knowing what’s lurking within, immediately creates suspense. The demo also showcased some of the more adventure style investigative gameplay, with Nima tracking footprints and discarded items to find her way to the crash site. It’s clearly different from the puzzles we’ve come to expect from Telltale, with no sign of the usual inventory system.
The main focus here though was the action set-piece, as Nima finds herself surrounded by a vicious Dilophosaurus pack. Actions such as opening doors or prying dino jaws are performed by rapidly tapping a required button, whilst some actions are done by mimicking the movements with the analogue sticks. It’s also possible for the player to die in a variety of gruesome ways if the quick-time events are failed. These intense set-pieces look more than capable of bringing the same level of suspense and tension from the movie over to the game.
Telltale have also gone to particular lengths to create a game which looks, sounds and feels like the 1993 film. The game’s production has been backed and supported by Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, providing the team with the entire Oscar winning library of sound effects and music from the original film. As well as this, much like the production of the movie, its been assisted by palaeontologists and extensive research to make the dinosaurs themselves as realistic as possible. Players will also exploring both areas and locations seen in the movie, as well as some which are brand new to the game. Telltale mentioned that one of these new locations includes an awesome sounding Jurassic Park rollercoaster.
It’s hard to tell how Jurassic Park: The Game will be received by Telltale’s devoted fan base. Whilst the usual attention to detail is here, the inclusion of quick-time events will no doubt irritate those who feel the mechanic is overused or uninteresting. Likewise, the simplified approach to puzzles and investigation also has the potential to result in a mixed response. Personally, I came away from Jurassic Park: The Game impressed and eager to play it when it’s released later this year. The authenticity along with the way it cleverly works alongside the plot of the film, give this the potential to become another successful licence for Telltale.
Jurassic Park: The Game is released in the U.S on November the 15th. The U.K release date is still to be anounced.