I was 11 years old when Jurassic Park arrived in theaters. I, along with millions of viewers, was blown away by the concept and the execution of the movie. The dinosaurs were so realistic! And the concept of an amusement park with dinosaurs still resonates with me to this day. How awesome would it be if we could explore a park with real dinosaurs? Ark Park gives us the opportunity to live out that childhood dream. Unfortunately, the technology isn’t quite there to make it a fully immersive experience.
Ark Park is a mix of exploration, crafting, shooting, and education. As you get to the park, you will begin the game in a visitor center with hologram dinosaurs, a giant interactive map, and information about the dinosaurs. The visitor center is a great place to get your bearings. Movement in Ark Park uses both joysticks on the DualShock controller (or you have the option to use the Move controllers). The movement is not fluid. It correlates with where you are looking in the game. You mainly move where the reticle is on the screen. The movement takes a little bit to get used to and made me wish the movement was more fluid. The visitor center was really enjoyable for my young kids. My 9-year-old liked making the T-rex roar and move.
In a way, the visitor center gave me a hint about what I would enjoy the most, which is the exploration of Ark Park. There are six interactive environments for you to check out. In each environment, you can explore, mine for resources, and collect dinosaur genes. The collecting of resources helps you craft upgradeable items, such as weapons (which you will definitely need). Resources also help with growing dinosaurs. The resources are very easy to find, which is fantastic for younger gamers. When you hold the pickaxe in hand, resources will have a green hue, which helps you identify what you can mine.
You will also get hints when you old the gene gun. This device is used to collect dinosaur genes that can be used to great your very own dinosaur. Collecting genes can be tricky. You need to hold the gun onto the head of a dinosaur for a specific amount of time. Of course, this makes things very tricky in VR, as dinosaurs move around a bit and it’s challenging to get a lock on them. Don’t expect to get all of the dinosaur genes in one sitting. There are some that can only appear with specific resources. I personally enjoyed that aspect of the game and made me return to specific environments to see what I can unlock.
As you collect genes, you can create your own dinosaurs and have them roam around your very own enclosure. You can even ride them through a small section that is filled with other dinosaurs. It is very relaxing and a good reward for hunting the dino genes. Just to warn you – there were moments where I was riding a dinosaur (or a jeep) that made me very nauseous. It got better over time, but I would recommend taking a small break before moving on.
The part that I enjoyed the least is the battle levels. Imagine a VR horde mode where you shoot down wave after wave of dinosaurs and protect a piece of equipment. That is basically the concept of the battle environments. Unfortunately, the shooting feels tedious, especially in the early parts of the game when you only have a pistol. And without fluid movement, it is very hard to move around and defeat the waves. Things are a little easier when you play co-op, but it’s still difficult to pass. I would recommend upgrading weapons for these battles.
Ark Park is a wonderful concept. I just wish the technology was there to make it completely immersive. I would love to see a few upgrades to the graphics and sound. I wish there was some rustling leaves or swaying trees. I would love to see some environmental reactions to Pteradactyls flying overhead. I wish there was some movement in the water as you take the train to enter the park. Little things like that kept me from being completely immersed in the VR.
I also wish there was more to do, so I really hope that Snail Games continues to update Ark Park with patches and updates. 6 environments are a good start, but eventually, we will need more things to do and more dinosaurs to find. I would say that Ark Park is a great VR game for younger kids. My kids are 10 and under, and they enjoyed it. For me, it is a wonderful concept that needs more depth and things to do.
Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch received a code from a PR firm for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Exploring and learning about dinosaurs
Crafing and hunting resources
Puzzles to find more dinosaur genes
Battle mode is tedious
Clunky VR movements
Would like to see more environments or things to do