For me, Telltale has been riding a string of successes using their episodic game format. The games which they have released as “seasons” like Back to the Future, Sam & Max, and Monkey Island have had a wit to them which has made them incredibly enjoyable experiences. Wit alone, however, is not enough. The games have also succeeded in no small part due to the cleverness of the puzzles involved.
It is difficult, therefore, for me to imagine how they have managed to miss the boat quite so completely with Jurassic Park. Yes, okay, it is by nature a darker game, but not only did Telltale jettison humor (for the most part), they also by and large jettisoned the puzzles. There are a few (small) puzzles to be found here in the first episode of the Jurassic Park season, but most of what you’re going to find in episode one is a series of timing games. These require you to press one or more directional keys at a specific moment. If you miss a stroke you may die or you may just void the possibility of your getting a gold medal for that portion of the episode. Whether you make the stroke or not though, you’re not really going to enjoy yourself trying to time it all out.
The actual puzzles you encounter here all pretty short as well. But, perhaps worse than that, they tend to be annoying – the answers are obvious and it feels as though the game time has been padded by forcing you to move from location A to location B to click one thing and then move back again.
As for the story, the game takes place during the timeframe of the original film and deals with characters not seen in the movie. Much of the game takes place in the wake of the death of Nedry (Wayne Knight) and you play as a woman sent to the island to pick up the fateful can of Barbasol. You also get to play as a worker on the island who meets up with the evildoers, and none-too-surprisingly, those plots overlap.
I have no desire to ruin for you the plot and will let you discover it for yourself if you decide to take up the game. In fact, the plot, even if it isn’t the most interesting at times, seems to be what most of the development focus has gone into. There are certainly moments playing the game when you’ll wonder why they bothered to make it interactive at all and didn’t just put out an animated Jurassic Park mini-movie. I feel as though they are definitely building a potentially good story. It is my sincere hope that the slow bits of this episode exist just because they’re introducing characters and putting pieces into motion.
It does seem as though the folks at Telltale enjoy the material and appreciate the opportunity to add to the JP canon. The real question will be if they’re able to somehow make the future episodes interesting to play now that they have established such a disappointing format in the first episode.
Jurassic Park: The Game, Episode 1 – “The Intruder” is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence. This game can also be found on: PSN, Xbox 360, iPad, PC.