A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jurassic World Evolution is a theme park simulation and management game based on the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World film franchises. Players develop facilities and grow the business of a dinosaur park that stretches across several tropical islands. While some dinosaurs may escape from their exhibits and eat park visitors, no blood is shown during these incidents. On the other hand, fights between dinosaurs do result in small red mist clouds of blood; the same thing occurs when carnivores are fed goats. While there are tutorials to help you learn how to play the game, there are also plenty of challenging moments in which you'll run out of funding and will have to restart. Fortunately, some progress made in one session carries over to future ones, which helps reduce frustration.
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What's it about?
JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION puts players in control of a chain of islands off the coast of Costa Rica that are being developed into a dinosaur theme park, just like in the films the game is based on. Players' primary goal is to create dinosaur attractions to drive attendee interest and earn more money. This requires researching dinosaur DNA, which means sending research teams to dig sites to analyze the fossils they collect in order to create a viable genome and start growing dinosaurs. While these tasks are being completed, players must also work on creating proper enclosures for their animals, providing typical money-making attractions for guests (toy stores, restaurants, etc.), and making sure that everything in the park is properly powered and secured (dinos can escape their enclosures and eat park guests if you aren't careful). Park specialists will frequently provide contracts and missions -- such as creating a dinosaur with a specific genetic modification or keeping park attendance at a certain level for a set amount of time -- that lead to monetary rewards and help guide your growth. Additional islands, along with new facilities and more dangerous dinosaurs, are gradually unlocked as the game progresses, with research progress from previous islands carried forward.
Is it any good?
Many movie-based games feel like quick cash grabs, but this park management simulation is surprisingly nuanced -- and even a bit funny. Jurassic World Evolution captures the essence of the films, not just in the details of what it takes to create a dinosaur clone, but also the ethical problems. How do you contain and keep an animal happy when its nature makes it want to be free and hunt? How do you teach animals whose genetic makeup is that of a confident alpha predator that humans are equal alpha predators and not to be trifled with? The strategies suggested by some of the park's officials are iffy at best. But thanks to warm, authentic performances from actors like Jeff Goldblum as franchise favorite Dr. Ian Malcolm, players are able to get sage, witty commentary on what's going on at the park, predicting without fail how things are bound to go awry.
Under all of this is a competent -- and surprisingly straightforward -- park simulator. It's not too hard to understand the effects of each upgrade you research and building you construct, and adding facilities like monorails, hotels, and viewing towers to create an appealing resort is satisfying. You can even get down and experience the park at ground level, taking on the role of a jeep ranger or helicopter pilot to tranquilize sick dinosaurs and photograph animals engaged in curious behaviors for a little extra cash. Park finances sometimes teeter-totter a little too much: You may have more money than you know what to do with one moment, then dive deep into the red the next as angry patrons sue you over dino-related injuries. And a couple of tweaks here and there -- like the ability to replace fences as you build stronger ones, rather than build around old fences before demolishing them -- would have streamlined some of the more tedious mechanics. But Jurassic World Evolution is, overall, a surprisingly robust theme park simulation that accurately channels the blockbuster films' familiar atmosphere.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. With its overlapping objectives, it's easy to just keep playing Jurassic World Evolution for long stretches and lose track of time. So how do you decide when to stop playing?
What's so appealing about amusement parks? Is it the entertainment? The thrills from the rides? The food?
Should we try to clone long dead dinosaurs from discovered DNA? What sort of dangers -- both ethical and physical -- might be involved?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension
Science: animals, biology
Social Studies: the economy
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: problem solving, spatial reasoning, thinking critically
Creativity: making new creations
Self-Direction: work to achieve goals
Responsibility & Ethics: learning from consequences
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Frontier Developments
- Release date: June 12, 2018
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: STEM, Dinosaurs, History, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: T for Mild Blood, Violence
- Last updated: August 17, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.