Dinosaur Fossil Hunter by Pyramid Games is a simulator game where you get to live out your childhood dream of being a palaeontologist. If it wasn’t your childhood dream then you can just pretend to be Ross from Friends instead!
Dinosaur Fossil Hunter – We Have a T-Rex!
Having come from an initial concept, further developed with the help of a Kickstarter project, Pyramid Games have certainly pushed the boundaries on what I was actually expecting Dinosaur Fossil Hunter to play like! As you read on in amazement, feel free to check out our other reviews or give me your best Dinosaur quote in the comments below!
So let’s get down and dirty straight away and make something very clear. Dinosaur Fossil Hunter is not just any old run-of-the-mill simulator with some dinosaur bones thrown in for good measure. In fact, I was actually quite blown away by the gaming experience I received.
Starting the narrated story as a child you learn how you found your love of dinosaurs many years ago. Rather than just sit back and listen to a story playing, you get to interact by completing dot-to-dot drawings of dinos as well as building them out of wooden shapes. All are easily achieved using the mouse. You learn that as you grow up you inherit your Grandfather’s garage along with the secrets that it stores. Again all is fully interactive and feature you clearing out the garage as you get to an awesome-looking military truck and pickup. The money that you make from selling some of the wares in essence funds you to start your journey into the world of palaeontology.
You work for a museum and very soon you are on your first expedition. Every step of the way you can watch short video tutorials to understand what to do as well as call up onscreen displays for controls. This I absolutely love as one thing I do get frustrated with is when a Simulator game tells you to do something and it is very unclear where to find the tool or how to carry out what is required.
Quickly you will learn that when out exploring for fossils, the area is actually pretty large. Getting into your pickup truck you drive to your site following a map. Along the way, you may come across obstacles such as rocks or fallen trees. These prove easy to remove thanks to your large rock-breaking hammer as well as a chainsaw.
Muddy roads require you to switch to 4wd mode on your pickup. Remember to watch the fuel gauge otherwise, you will need to use the extra jerry can in the back! As you finally get to your exploration site the area boundary is marked up and a tent erected. Onto the dino finding!
While the tools are many, the controls are actually pretty simple to get the hang of. Using a scanner you walk across the soil parts of the landscape looking for unearthed rocks. As the display gives you a rainbow rock shape on the screen you can then deploy a red flag to come back to later on once you have finished your scan.
Digging is carried out either using a shovel or a pickaxe and involves clicking on the ground with the mouse to the area you want to be cleared. The physics feels quite realistic as the ground gives way and any nearby rocks roll down into your hole.
As you unearth rocks you can use another detector to scan for any bones. If you are lucky then the indicator turns green. Your next job is to dust off the rock and encase it in clay for safe transportation. Once you have carried your dino rock back to the tent you can place it into a crate and then once you are happy with your findings it is time to load them onto the pickup and make your way back to base camp.
All the time I have been spent so far I kept thinking to myself “the simulator will end here”, however Dinosaur Fossil Hunter just kept on giving!
The next step is to send the crates to the museum where you next go in order to complete the next part of the fossil discovery process. Once at the museum you get to unpack the crates one by one and begin cutting the clay off the rocks. Now the finer cleaning and slow breaking up of the rock can be skipped thanks to a helpful museum department that will do it for you however I decided to try cleaning manually the first time around.
All I can say is wow! The devs have really thought about this process thoroughly. Every step of gently breaking down each part and the careful cleaning of each bone is painstakingly recreated. It is highly impressive and very long-winded! Fine brushes, cleaning agents, and drills all come into play to leave you with a polished bone ready for assembly.
Similar to when you were putting the dinosaur wooden blocks together, assembling a dinosaur is very similar. You click on the bone and select where it needs to go. Slowly you build up your dinosaur until it is complete! The outcome is truly magnificent.
“Ok,” I thought, “that has to be it now surely”. Once again I was wrong. You make your way to another part of the museum where you get to design your own gallery in order to show off your dinosaur collection. You can change the walls, ceilings, and floors, position the artefacts as well as create the entire appearance of the display as you see fit. Make sure to add the information board! There are a number of items to unlock as your career progresses.
Finally, I was led to a huge room that featured a distinct-looking, but partially constructed dinosaur. “It couldn’t be could it?” Yes, it was a T-Rex! Although the task was to finish the assembly of it, the sheer size of the skeleton was brought to life having two scaffold platforms on either side so that you could reach the higher sections of the body. Once completed a new area of the map opened up on my tablet and it was off for another adventure!
Graphics & Audio
Clearly, the bar is set high on Dinosaur Fossil Hunter when it comes to graphics. The amount of passion put into this project oozes out through gameplay however the polished detail of the dinosaur bones and structures as well as the terrain, vehicles, tools and night and day environments help to create a hugely immersive experience.
The fully voiced narrative serves to drive the story along as you go from child to adult. Once more the enjoyment and excitement is instilled in you as you play along to further anecdotes. Meanwhile, the supporting orchestral soundtrack is at an almost Hollywood level, making you really think that you are in the movies of a certain Jurrasic franchise.
How long is a piece of string?! Dinosaur Fossil Hunter is way more than just a digging simulator. I felt bad for thinking that it was going to be that way before I started to play. As you can read from my gameplay section there is a huge array of things to do and see. Digging is just one aspect! There are hours and hours of fun to be had and many dinosaurs to discover as well as unlockables back at the museum. Looking at the goal plan on Pyramid Games’ Kickstarter, there could certainly be a lot more features added depending on how sales go such as museum crowds, more dino species, eggs and even statues to paint!
Dinosaur Fossil Hunter is in a world of its own when it comes to simulators. This is simply one of the greatest simulators that I have ever played. When it comes to levels of detail and processes to follow the simulator does not want to stop. The museum interior design aspect in itself feels like its own game. For anybody that wants to experience being a palaeontologist or has a dino mad child in the household, this is a game you do not want to miss.
Dinosaur Fossil Hunter scores a Roarsome Thumb Culture Platinum Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.