Ark Park Review (Oculus Rift)

Written by Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)

 When I was a kid I used to love dinosaurs. These mystical creatures that once used to roam the planet fascinated me, and I always was a bit sad we would never be able to experience what they’re like in real life. But thanks to technology, Virtual Reality is now a great tool to experience what these fascinating creatures were like in person. While you aren’t physically right next to them, I must say that standing next to a huge carnivore did scare me a little: Especially when a tower explodes, and the civilization on the Park changes forever.

Ark Park is a bit cheesy when it comes to the story. From the moment you jump into the tutorial or the introduction of Ark Park as a whole, you feel like you have jumped into a new Jurassic Park movie and you are the lead actor playing an important role in restoring the park into the museum it was before. As you are slowly driven towards the park over the ocean in a train made out of glass,  you will be met by a swimming dinosaur and you just feel like you are playing in the intro for this incredible movie, only to be let down on arrival.

Since Virtual Reality is still in its infant years, a lot of games use a teleporting system that allows you to travel through the levels. Instead of walking which feels more natural, you have to keep pointing where you want to go and use the little joysticks on your controllers to navigate through the park and move from one level to the other. Unfortunately every area you’ll find is one separate level from the other, and after doing your initial tour through the very small park, you’ll find that teleporting straight to a zone for exploring or battle is just the easier way of doing things and you’ll forget about the hub as a whole. While the initial hub is very interesting to get familiar with some of the dinosaurs, and you can pick them up and even feed them, after ten minutes of playing around you’ll never really go back there anymore.

While Ark Park gives you the initial impression of being this very in-depth game with a rich story, it quickly falls apart and you’ll notice how simple and short the game really is. The story itself, as I said earlier, is very basic and comes straight out of the set of a Jurassic Park movie. You’ll visit the park as a visitor, and for some reason a tower explodes and suddenly all the dinosaur aren’t as friendly as they used to be. Before you know it you have made yourself a gun and are firing at dinosaur as if it were the wild west.

While the battles are fun, there aren’t that many of them to do. Each mission is very straight forward: You have to defend yourself against waves of different dinosaurs, gradually becoming harder with each wave, before you have to face an end boss. Let me tell you, these bosses can be quite frustrating. Especially the Ape in the first level, which got me to almost give up on the game twice. I must’ve put over several hours in the Ape alone, just to get an idea of what to do in the fight, but eventually meet the very same fate as in the previous twenty tries. In the end I just gave up, and I went exploring instead.

Exploring in Ark Park is a bit of a separate thing to do. It doesn’t really help you unlock more missions to fight the dinosaurs in, but it does allow you to unlock more exploration zones. There you will find objects and dinosaurs to scan with your tool, and gain information and resources on them that you can then craft into weapons or other useful items to help you in the missions. You can even find dinosaur eggs that you can then breed yourself, and put in your own small imprisonment for your entertainment. You can even ride on them as if they are horses. If you are feeling fabulous you can even spray paint them with this interesting, only half-the-time working spraypaint gun.

When it comes to the graphics and audio, I must say that Ark Park definitely looks very good, and tries it best just to throw eye candy at your screen with whatever you’re doing. Even on my quickly aging video card that can barely run Virtual Reality right, I had no issues whatsoever playing on the highest quality and even recording at the same time. As for the audio, well that’s where you will see the lack of effort. The sounds aren’t necessarily that bad, but they’re very simple, and are also extremely buggy. Many times the audio just pops in and out, and when it does properly work, you sometimes wonder why there isn’t just more to it. Unfortunately I am not alone with all of these worries. Looking at the reactions in the community, it is mostly negative and everyone was hoping for this special experience, but is letdown with a game that feels like an “Overpriced Tech Demo”, as someone put well in their review.

Conclusion: 2/5 (Fair)

 Ark Park looks and sounds like a very promising game, but when you put some time into it you will see the holes in the basket. The game looks stunning in Virtual Reality, and it uses the technology somewhat well to its advantage. They kick things off like you are in the typical Jurassic Park movie, but letdown with anything else they have to show for it afterward. While shooting at Dinosaur could be fun for an hour, as a gamer that doesn’t work out a lot, I already felt my muscles hurting from keeping my gun up for long periods of time. Exploring is a nice addition to the game, but it doesn’t really fill the gaps that are missing.

 I can not see this game work in its current state. While it is somewhat fun for a few hours, the game is definitely not finished and it needs some serious content to justify its price.

Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.

ARK PARK Screenshots

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