Big Trouble in Little Dino Park

by Seth Paxton profile and Rachel Aubertin


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Should Have Spent 60 Days, December 6, 2020
by Joey Acrimonious
Related reviews: IFComp 2020

Big Trouble in Little Dino Park puts the player in the shoes of an ennui-afflicted young person working a menial job - until you are thrust into a struggle for survival.

Apart from a few typos, I found the writing enjoyably witty, with some amusing riffs on the little (and not-so-little) absurdities of life. The introductory part of the game, which situates the protagonist in the vacuous world of commercial dinosaur exhibition only to plunge it all into chaos, showcases some of its best writing and does a great job of setting the tone quickly and concisely.

The game’s weak point is in how it executes its choice structure. The thing is, there’s a certain finicky path to victory. Once you’ve felt out that path, then you can work deliberately toward a couple of clear goals, and make a couple of decisions that have some moral/emotional weight to them. Good stuff. But until you’ve stumbled across just the right event to set you on that path, the choices mostly consist of pressing random stuff and hoping it doesn’t get you killed, with little apparent tactical or emotional reason to choose one option over another (except perhaps the knowledge of what got you killed last time). This phase of the game, I think, doesn’t play well to the strengths of the choice-based format, which is at its strongest when each choice comes with a sense of gravitas and agency.

I hope the authors will keep at it and give us more games in the future. With a different and more refined game design that more fully takes advantage of its engine’s strengths, their compelling writing could shine even brighter.

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