There are some games that make you do a double-take. You just hear the premise out loud and it forces you to stop and look. Dino Frontier did that for me. The concept places you in the role of the Big Mayor as you preside over a frontier town in the wild west. So far, so normal, but then the game swaps out the normal flora and fauna for prehistoric dinosaurs. Okay, now you have my attention.
It’s easily one of the most unique titles to come to PlayStation VR, but does this game push the frontiers of city builders, or is this idea doomed to extinction? Let’s find out!
Welcome to The Wild Prehistoric West
Dino Frontier doesn’t have a major story behind its concept. Instead, it presents a unique proposition for the city builder genre. You are the Big Mayor. Your job is to help your settlers flourish and build a town that withstands bandit attacks and ultimately carve out its own slice of this brave new world.
The dinosaurs are more than just set-dressing too, you’re meant to tame and train them. They’ll protect you and assist with daily activities. Your settlers will need your help to build new structures and it’s your job to make sure they’re well fed and happy.
All of this, and you’ll need to defend from bandit attacks too! What’s a disembodied mayor to do? Strap on a VR headset, and you’ll find out! It’s a unique premise to be sure, but how does it translate into gameplay?
Phenomenal Controls and Solid Mechanics
Dino Frontier requires that you use two Move controllers, which can sometimes be a good thing or a tracking nightmare. I don’t know what kind of black magic the developers at Uber Entertainment have in their offices, but they’ve managed to create one of the most responsive and accurate control schemes on PlayStation VR.
I can count on one hand the number of times I ran into tracking issues. What I can’t count, is the amount of times that everything worked absolutely flawlessly. Whether you’re hammering build sites to bring buildings to life or plucking settlers off the ground to then place in their respective roles, everything in Dino Frontier works like a charm.
Using your floating hands, you’ll be able to drag, turn, and pull or push the world to move the camera with ease. Collecting resources is as simple as picking up settlers and dropping them near trees for lumber, or plants and animals for food.
For the first part of the game, you’ll need to manually pick up resources and drop them into the appropriate structures. Settlers will then need to be placed into these structures to process the resources for consumption. It gets a little repetitive, but it’s remedied by taming and training dinosaurs.
Once you can do this, you’ll be able to lure dinosaurs out so you can wear them down and capture them. Training them allows you to utilize them for a variety of uses, such as collecting resources for you so you don’t have to pick them up each time. They’ll also assist in bandit attacks.
While you’re doing all of this, you’ll also need to check in on your settlers and your private retreat. Settlers will need to manage their hunger, health, and happiness. When you see one of these things lacking, you’ll need to pick them up and drop them on the respective building to recover. Beds work for sleeping, saloons increase happiness, and clinics will heal them.
Your retreat, meanwhile, offers a farm for you to plant and harvest crops. It also has a mine where you can use dynamite to uncover additional resources. Control-wise, Dino Frontier is absolutely perfect. Cutting down crops, pounding buildings with a hammer to finish their progress, and manipulating the world or menus all feels fantastic.
Everything works really well, but its metered out in specific rhythms that make the game feel like an ongoing tutorial. Once you get to the end of the four-hour campaign, you’ll wish you had the option to keep going and expanding.
Dino Frontier lays the foundation for an amazing city builder. Yes, the mechanics could be more complex, but what is here is polished to a mirror sheen. A free play mode with a few additional maps would have added so much more to the experience.
As it stands, the campaign is a linear progression that shows you the potential of such a concept, but it never lets go of the reigns so you can truly test all of the various features and mechanics. It’s all so incredibly fun, but when you’re finished it leaves you wishing it would take off the training wheels so you can really take it for a test drive.
Charming Presentation and Wonderful Style
Dino Frontier has an excellent art style and wonderful graphics in PlayStation VR. The pastel colors offer just enough detail to make everything look distinctive, while still retaining excellent clarity in VR with little to no aliasing. It’s a colorful and charming game that looks stellar in VR.
When you combine this with the soulful voice of the narrator, and the cleverly written songs in the soundtrack, you have a game that oozes confidence and style. It really is a shame that it’s all over so quickly, but if Dino Frontier could expand with some new maps or a free play mode, it would really stand out from the pack.
As it stands, Dino Frontier is well worth your time and money. It’s a lovingly crafted game with excellent production values and a wonderful premise. It’s a winning combination of accessible gameplay and a hilarious premise. For those reasons and much more, I hope it’s an idea that doesn’t go extinct any time soon.
Final Score: 8.0/10
A copy of Dino Frontier was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 8/22/17