During Facebook Connect in September last year, a wide range of titles were revealed to be coming to the Oculus Quest that DEFINITELY got gamers excited. A new Star Wars release, brand new virtual reality entries in the Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed franchises, a re-imagined release of the puzzling classic Myst – it certainly painted a bright picture for the future of the stand-alone headset.
One of the titles that I was most drawn to was Jurassic World Aftermath; a stealth-orientated escapade that sees players escape the wrath of patrolling velociraptors as they search for confidential materials in a now abandoned facility. I mean, come on, that description ALONE is enough to make you want to play the game, right? Well, it released at the back end of 2020 and certainly managed to offer as tense of an experience as you would expect, even if it did fall short in some elements of its design.
Set two years after the events of the 2015 movie Jurassic World, Jurassic World Aftermath takes place at a time when dinosaurs are roaming free on the island of Isla Nublar with very little in place to stop them from… you know… eating people. It’s not the ideal time to visit then really, is it? Unfortunately, that’s what you end up doing when your plane crashes down right in the midst of all of the dino-danger, with a pulsating interaction with a t-rex setting the tone for the rest of your mission.
Fortunately, you have a companion named Mia who’ll guide you along your journey via radio, so you’re not completely alone on your adventure – you’ll even hear interactions with some iconic characters from the movies along the way, with the ever-lovable Jeff Goldblum’s soothing tones one of those that you’ll get to hear.
Unfortunately, you’ll also hear the iconic noises of the velociraptors who are stalking your every step along the way. It’s a game set in the Jurassic World universe… what did you expect?
At its core, Jurassic World Aftermath is a stealth adventure in a similar vein to Alien Isolation (except you’re being hunted by dinosaurs instead of a xenomorph). You can’t actually do any harm to the creatures stalking you, so instead have to resort to carefully sneaking around, hiding under desks or in lockers, and using distractions to keep the velociraptors off your tail. You’ll solve simple puzzles along the way as you complete your objectives, with the gameplay loop following a fairly straight-forward routine.
Find yourself getting caught by a dino? You’re probably going to die, with the last thing you see being the dropping jaw of a velociraptor leaping at your face. It might be a little unsettling to some, but experiencing this in virtual reality was actually pretty awesome. It makes the process of dying and having to restart from a checkpoint a little less painful, even if it’ll get your spine chilling every time it happens…
What could be a little painful though was the repetitive nature of the game. Don’t get me wrong, Jurassic World Aftermath offers an enjoyable stealth-romp and escaping the wrath of the patrolling dinosaurs offers a mighty satisfying sense of tension, but there isn’t a whole lot of variety to the things that you do. The facility itself is fairly linear in design too, so it’s not as if you ever really get to venture off the beaten path to take in more of your surroundings – it’s just a case of heading to your objective, avoiding dinosaurs, completing a small puzzle, and repeating.
That’s not to say that there isn’t excitement to be found though, especially in the more action-orientated set-pieces where you might have to trick a velociraptor to get it out of your way, have to deal with carrying an object around that’ll constantly get a dino’s attention, or even just managing to keep yourself safe by blocking off your stalker’s path at the very last moment. Heck, there are even some nice surprises found across the adventure that’ll bring a smile to the face of fans of the movies, with Jurassic World Aftermath certainly having its moments where it really shines. It can just feel a little bit TOO scripted at times, with the player rarely doing much else than playing a dangerous game of ‘hide and seek’ as they try to complete their mission. It makes for an enjoyable experience, but not a very varied one.
The game also ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, with the conclusion coming in the form of paid DLC later in 2021. I don’t recall seeing an episodic setup advertised about the game prior to its release, so this did leave a little bit of a sour taste – it made Jurassic World Aftermath feel like half of an experience more than anything else, even if it did take a good three-to-four hours to actually beat.
At least Jurassic World Aftermath nails the immersive element of its design, with the constant sense of threat felt in virtual reality making for an array of genuinely unnerving moments. Looking around your surroundings carefully and patiently waiting for the moment to make your move never stopped being gripping, whilst listening out for the clattering of claws around you gives you some sense of knowing when a velociraptor might be lurking out of sight. It’s something that would be suspenseful when played on a normal TV, but in virtual reality? It’s INTENSE… I loved it.
I was a big fan of the comic book-style visuals too, with the world of Jurassic World Aftermath embracing a cartoony aesthetic as opposed to a realistic one. It keeps everything looking slick and sharp in the Oculus Quest headset, whilst it also felt unique to be a part of. They might have been a bit more colourful in design, but believe me, the dangerous dinosaurs of Jurassic World Aftermath are still as menacing as ever.
Jurassic World Aftermath’s unnerving stealth-adventure will certainly keep players on their toes, even if it can get a little bit repetitive in places. Thankfully, an array of gripping showdowns with velociraptors ensures the excitement never wanes, whilst the fantastic presentation and added immersion of virtual reality ensures you’ll constantly be on edge from start to end.
It’s a bit of a shame that the game is a little linear and unvaried in design, whilst the fact that some paid DLC coming later this year wraps up the story was a bit disappointing too. Still, there’s more than enough going on in Jurassic World Aftermath to keep both fans of the franchise and virtual reality gamers excited, even if it doesn’t quite strive to greatness just yet.
Publisher: Oculus Studios
Platform(s): Quest 2 (Reviewed), Quest