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Game Info:

DinoSystem
Developed By: Capribyte Studios
Published By: Black Shell Media
Released: June 25, 2015
Available On: Microsoft Windows
Genre: Survival, Simulation
ESRB Rating: None specified
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $7.99

I'd like to thank Black Shell Media for the preview key for this game.

Games that ask the question "what would it be like if humans lived in prehistoric times" are not new. Games that take this anachronism and still try to apply realism to it are a bit more unusual, and DinoSystem certainly tries to be the latter.

DinoSystem has two modes. One is "God Mode", where you have the game editor at your fingertips and can shape how the game world develops over time. This mode is little more than a placeholder at the time of this writing, so this review will not cover it in detail. The other mode is a survival mode where you play as a human living in the Pre-Ice Age to post-Ice Age period.

Given the game wants to examine how this latter concept would work if you applied reality to it, survival mode takes into account the following: heat, cold, water, food, need to defend yourself, and all the other things a game based on survival would take into account. Building shelter, establishing a food supply, and otherwise not dying in a hostile land where dinosaurs roam is very important. Worse, given this covers the pre and post-Ice Age periods, you must adapt to the drastic changes in climate, flora, and fauna this change causes.

DinoSystem
Highlights:

Strong Points: Cheap yet very realistic survival simulator
Weak Points: Simulation mode not well developed; Survival mode crafting system not well fleshed out 
Moral Warnings: Partial nudity; hunting and survival-based violence against various creatures; some blood display, though some can be disabled

Graphically, DinoSystem uses a top-down camera angle and a 2D world with a colorful though gritty looking prehistoric setpiece design. Given the quality of the resources, this is not the most beautiful looking game by a long shot, there is a bit of blurring and some fuzzy textures.

The control scheme is a mix of the WASD keyboard movement type and mouse control. While they do provide some tutorials and tips to do basic actions, it's a fairly trial and error system that requires some work to get used to. Crafting and other actions are available via menus you can access with the right mouse button, while the left is the general action button for equipped items. There is little to no music, nothing stands out in that regard. There are some good sound effects for the various creatures and your actions, all of which are acceptable at worst, but they are little more than adequate at best.

Stability is dependent on the options chosen for setting up the game world. While the requirements are so modest a middling laptop would be capable of running it on average, load times increase if you use the best settings. This is primarily because a lot of procedural generation runs in the background for the generated game world. I encountered no hangs, crashes, or other issues.

Morally, we've got some definite issues.

Violence is generally restricted to hunting animals and defending yourself against predators. Blood can be disabled, but you'll still see it on dead bodies regardless. Given corpses generally disappear after a while, even that is not permanent, but since this is a game adhering to realism, corpses of animals don't vanish immediately after death.

DinoSystem
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Language is nonexistent. Sexual content is another story, as you start as a naked male or female human, but the top-down perspective means you are seen from shoulders up only, and the nudity is drawn in a very unarousing style. Again, this is a realism element, as you are supposed to find animal pelts to make clothing out of, and there are penalties for letting the elements attack your naked body (like cold or heat), so partial nudity from the perspective mentioned is present, but not for arousal.

This game precedes on the premise of being set pre-Ice Age and assumes as much. This is a very science grounded game, humans living before the Ice Age aside. There is a "God Mode", which is not blasphemy, rather it's because it simulates the actual God putting life on the Earth and influencing its development, much as He did in the Book of Genesis. This mode is again for education about the realistic theme, as this puts you in control of the development and ecology of the setting as if you were in God's shoes, and is not intended as sacrilege. Given it's barely alpha test worthy and the survival mode is more fleshed out, it amounts to a glorified early game editor beta test in practice.

Morally and ethically, survival mode is about survival and the simulation model is about being in charge of the ecology of the world around you. Neither theme is objectionable to any extent and both are intended as an educational entertainment experience.

For the price, it's not bad if far from the perfect game as far as the survival mode goes, and the other mode is more a bonus at this point than anything. For the sake of realism, there is some violence and nudity, though this is still not suitable for non-mature audiences as a result. Overall, it's like a cheaper, 2D Ark: Survival Evolved (which is more fleshed out but is much more resource-demanding) for those who want the same basic experience with incredibly modest system demands, and if you can't play ARK or can't afford it, this is far from a terrible substitute, albeit one still early in development and needing a lot of further polish.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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