From Dead Drop Studios, the developer responsible for the survival horror franchise, Outbreak, comes Dinobreak. An attempt by the developer to create a spiritual successor to Capcom’s beloved 1999 game, Dino Crisis.
The year is 1999 and massive eggs have started to appear around the city. These aren’t just any old eggs though, these are dinosaur egg, and as they begin to hatch, the city falls into disarray. Players take on the role of a woman survivor looking for an escape route out of the city. Along the way, she’ll meet some other survivors, one in particular who seems to know where the dinosaur eggs came from.
Will the player be able to uncover the truth behind the mystery and escape the dinosaur-related horror?
It’s not just with the cheesy story that Dinobreak takes us back to 1999. It’s also with the gameplay, visuals, and voice acting too. Dead Drop Studios calls this a loving tribute to yester-year, but after playing it, most will see that as nothing but a flimsy excuse for a poorly made game.
Attempting to mimic the survival horror of the late 90s, everything about Dinobreak is borrowed from much better games. From loading screens between areas, to the user interface and menus, to using herbs to heal, to the puzzle-solving, and document reading. All of this is fine, it’s when Dinobreak tries to differentiate itself that the flaws become more apparent.
Seemingly aware that the ‘fixed’ camera style of classic survival horror games is quite off-putting for many modern gamers, Dinobreak gives the player three options, and each has its own drawbacks. First, there is the classic ‘fixed’ camera style, which has a detrimental effect on the controls, controls that are at their ‘tankiest’ here. Then there is the modern ‘over-the-shoulder’ perspective, which is mostly playable, but has its own issues when it comes to combat. Finally, there is a ‘first person’ option and it’s a nightmare when it comes to dealing with multiple dinosaurs at once.
While it is nice to have these options, Dead Drop Studios should have chosen one and worked on making that the best it could be. It’s padding, just like having weapons that need repairing is padding. What could have been a fresh challenge for survival horror fans is rendered pointless when the game gives you more weapons than you need and an egregious amount of tools to repair your damaged weapons.
In fact, Dinobreak lacks in almost all areas of survival and horror. With the former being rendered pointless because it gives you plenty of weapons, tons of ammo, and plenty of healing items. Whereas the latter is completely absent, aside from the visual gore of previous dinosaur victims.
Speaking of visuals, as far as capturing the spirit of 1999, Dinobreak does a good job of this. Thankfully, choosing to still smooth out a lot of it so it’s not as ugly to look at. There’s nothing special here, but it’s one of the few areas of the game that does manage to feel like a tribute, rather than laziness.
Which brings this review to the area that most will find unacceptable, and that is combat.
There are plenty of dinosaurs to deal with, plenty of eggs, and some variety in what you have to deal with. However, how you deal with them is exactly the same with no strategy needed. It’s simply shoot them until they fall down dead. Bigger and meaner dinosaurs take a few more bullets, but it’s rinse and repeat, and it is mind-numbingly boring.
The lack of weight to the weapons, the lack of impact they seem to have, any the repetitive dinosaur reactions makes combat so unsatisfying. Dino Crisis made every dinosaur interaction something you wanted to avoid because of the danger. Dinobreak makes every dinosaur interaction something you want to avoid because it’s so bad.
Across its two to three-hour length, more and more niggly issues will crop up for players. Turning an initially pleasant experience into something quite sour. Issues that then cross over to the game’s other mode – Operation: Feral Raptor. Here, players are tasked with killing as many dinosaurs/destroying as many eggs as possible and rescuing survivors within the time limit.
This is the better mode as limited pick-up items and more dinosaurs means getting the best rank possible is actually challenging. At least until the player learns the most efficient routes to take. Yet, all the gameplay issues are still prevalent, so most players won’t want to spend much time actually playing this mode.
Overall, it’s not a good game and barely manages to pass as a tribute to 1999’s Dino Crisis. While players can find some enjoyment within it, mainly because of its nostalgic beats, most will come away thoroughly disgruntled by the lack of effort put into it.
Dinobreak (Xbox Series X)
The Final Score - 4/10