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Score: 50%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: AtomicTorch Studio
Developer: AtomicTorch Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Classic/Retro/ Action/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

Dinocide is made for the retro gamers among us who miss the days of 8- and 16-bit titles. If you're in that crowd, you can likely stop reading now and go play the darn thing, but if you're on the fence, we'll say that there are some flaws that kept us from feeling the '80s revival. Happily, graphics aren't one of those issues. Dinocide truly does look like a throwback, like something that sprung virtually unchanged from a living room 30+ years ago.

A sure sign of how dedicated the dev team was in making this feel authentically retro is the fact that everything from the initial menu to the closing screen is "in character." Sure, it's a modern wrapper around a revival title, but the sound and visuals could easily be drawn directly from NES or similar system libraries. It's especially fun to see dinosaurs designed in this minimal style, versus the Turok treatment most of our hardware can support these days. There are also some nods to beloved games of the period, which makes for great fan service.


For the audience old enough to have played games like this in their original context, Dinocide has to first pass the nostalgia test, which it clearly does in style. Once we get past acknowledging that it looks and sounds great, there's the matter of playability. To be sure, Dinocide takes us back to the days when games were harder and much less forgiving. This shows up in the controls and in some core aspects of the gameplay. Maybe it's just a lifetime of playing games like this that leaves us a bit flat on the experience, but your mileage may vary depending on your love for retro experiences.

The structure of Dinocide reminded us a lot of a Super Mario World game, with a series of levels you'll explore across the gameworld, gaining new dino mounts and equipment along the way. At first, your caveman character is pretty puny, with little more than rocks to throw at enemies. Basic jumping (no butt bounces here) is as fancy as things get from the start, but the ability to discover and ride new dinosaurs makes it possible to tackle new challenges. The persistent enemy you'll never vanquish is time. You'll need to grab food items for nourishment along the way, or it's game over.


The food-gathering mechanic felt to us like an attempt to make Dinocide feel more frantic than it would otherwise, based only on level design. Rather than have an overall level timer (as in Mario and others) or platforming challenges that urge you on, there's a dwindling food meter that instantly kills your character in about 90 seconds. This does force you to play Dinocide like an old-school Platformer, but not for the right reasons.

The core gameplay is all about timed jumps and using dino mounts to good effect. The enemies and food are strategically placed to force you to make hard choices about the order in which you tackle each level. There's not nearly as much incentive to kill enemies as there is to grab food. There's also no major adjustment or workaround to make Dinocide more accessible, so it's strictly for retro gaming addicts.

Game Mechanics:

Like you'd expect from a retro title, there's little to say about the mechanics in terms of game control. A controller is almost a necessity for this one, and we're always glad to see another Steam game will full controller support. Playing Dinocide on the keyboard is possible, but much less fun. Controls are limited to running, jumping, and attacks with either a primary or secondary weapon. This comes into play especially with dino mounts, who have attacks of their own that can get you through otherwise impassable spots or enemies.

As fondly as we remember gaming's golden age, we're not convinced this is the best way to bring it back. If you're a completionist and need to play every retro game out there to feel like you're being true to the art, there's nothing bad or offensive about Dinocide. It's full of tried-and-true formulas for gameplay, and even a relatively unique theme, but it otherwise feels like it's trying too hard to start a retro revival. It's good for a specialized audience, but the other 80% of us may be better served elsewhere.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Minimum System Requirements:

Mac: OS X 10.9+; Dual Core 1.6GHz or equivalent; 1 GB RAM; 128MB of Video Memory, capable of Shader Model 2.0+; 300 MB available space

Test System:

Mac: El Capitan 10.11; 2.8GHz Intel Core i7; 16 GB RAM; Intel Iris Pro w/1536 MB VRAM.

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