You’ve got to admit that a Jurassic Park VR game is a shoe-in as a concept. It’s almost perfect for the medium to be employed to bring that sense of scale and wonder that gets conveyed by the characters in the films. Obviously, a theme park sim is exactly the right tie-in to get the focus, yet Coatsink aren’t going to let that steal all the glory, so here we have the Jurassic World Aftermath Collection. This package is effectively both parts of the original 2020 Quest release, and the same game that appears on the Switch in non-VR form; though here it’s been enhanced to take advantage of both the PS5 hardware and to benefit from the Sense Controller capabilities as it makes its PSVR2 debut. Should you be rushing to don your VR goggles and take on the mighty T-Rex, or is this a more measured game that wants you to visit the park rather than engage?
As the title suggests, the Jurassic World Aftermath Collection is set after the events of the first Trevarrow film, but through drip fed bits of story you learn it’s before Fallen Kingdom. You’re playing Sam, a security expert who’s been co-opted into heading to Isla Nublar along with Dr. Mia Everett who’s a geneticist returning to the island to recover her research. With no surprise at all, things go sideways almost immediately and your plane crash lands in an abandoned research facility, killing the pilot, breaking Mia’s leg, and leaving Sam stranded with no idea of what he’s about to face. Fortunately the comms work and Mia is on hand to advise and direct Sam around the place, as well as revealing pieces of information about her time on the island and working for Dr. Henry Wu. Time is ticking though, and to ensure that you don’t become a snack for the roaming population of carnivores you’ll need to be quick… and quiet.
Gameplay is centred around puzzle solving and stealth, and I’ll not sugar coat it – you’ll spend an awful lot of your time crouched under tables and slowly moving around the hallways of the facility. Jurassic World Aftermath Collection does feature plenty of interactions and puzzles to solve, yet avoiding the patrolling dinosaurs is the bulk of the run time. Mainly you’ll be avoiding the Velociraptors that stalk the halls and rooms, and that have incredible hearing and eyesight, though expect to encounter others that will hamper your free movement. Sam’s mission is mainly to get the power on across the complex which brings access back to the right areas, like transport and genetics, and then enter these areas to recover the items that Mia needs. There’s a central hub with operations as the main base, and from there you head out with a flashlight and computer interface as your only protection.
Getting through doors, activating computers and causing distractions are all done through the VI Assist – a device that pulls up holographic displays and lets you “hack” for access. Typically these are Simon Says style button sequences, reaction based minigames, or tweaking dials for tuning out distortion; and all have to be done whilst keeping an eye over your shoulder for whatever might be stalking you. If you’re in an area with loose dinosaurs, which is pretty much all of them, you’ve the option of hiding until they’re far away, or creating a distraction with the VI Assist. Scouring the walls and tables you’ll find speakers, radios and computers that can be triggered to make noise and attract the creatures to them, giving you scant seconds to make a move to safer space, or complete the action you were in the middle of. Be aware though, every action can draw in the predators and completing a puzzle probably means a dash to safety to avoid becoming dinner.
Jurassic World Aftermath Collection’s VR controls are lovely on the PSVR2 with the Sense Controllers doing a great job of selling the virtual interactions on the screen. Haptics deliver just enough vibration to make it seem like you’re reaching out to use hand scanners, buttons and cranks; and the visuals are crisp and smooth. Whether you’re playing sitting or standing the setup for space works well, as most of the movement is via the analogue sticks rather than teleportation. For those more sensitive to VR movement, there’s a wide range of comfort options available to fine tune your experience. The audio presentation is also pretty impressive, though given what the publisher can lay their hands on it shouldn’t be surprising. However, you may not expect to hear the likes of Jeff Goldblum or BD Wong, so it’s great they reprise their movie roles to appear alongside Laura Bailey, who plays Mia.
Mechanically it all hangs together well, and the art style suits the VR setup, it’s a shame then that the gameplay itself gets a bit repetitive. After your second hour of crouching under a desk waiting for a nosey raptor to leave the room, before slowly creeping towards a door, you’ll more likely to be feeling tedium rather than tension. It’s not that Jurassic World Aftermath Collection can’t create atmosphere, because it does, especially in the opening introduction to the facility; it’s just that it’s sustained for so long that it loses impact. Your main stalkers are a pack of raptors and their “clump, clump, clump” movement sounds are supposed to be there to give audio cues on distance, but they grate. Man, do they grate as the bass heavy clomping booms through your ears and you can’t tell where the creatures actually are. That’s not to say that the 3D audio doesn’t work, there’s an excellent section working your way through a generator complex underground where you need to listen out for dinos appearing in vents, and the positioning is satisfying and integrates into the scenario perfectly. The handful of puzzle types get reused a lot too, and that doesn’t help the feeling of re-treading the same ground, which you’re probably doing anyway, especially if you get spotted and end up in a reload checkpoint situation.
Where there’s a lot of authenticity in the Jurassic World Aftermath Collection, it’s maybe a bit too authentic in the need to hide and creep around. I can bemoan VR games for not having long enough campaigns or being cursory experiences, though here it feels a little artificially dragged out by forcing the pacing to slow. I like the look and feel, and the interactions are really well implemented, it’s simply the continued enforced stealth that takes the shine off. Maybe if the dinosaurs didn’t follow you from room to room clearly on the back of an invisible trigger it would be more manageable. Definitely don’t write the game off if you’re looking for that kind of immersive experience, and fans of the franchise will get a kick out of staring up at the T-Rex, or seeing how short a Velociraptor is… before it pounces.
A PSVR2 review copy of Jurassic World Aftermath Collection was provided by Coatsink’s PR team, and the game is out now on PS5, Switch and PC for around £25 depending on platform.
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