Reviewed on: PC
Developer: Iguana Entertainment, Night Dive Studios
Publisher: Night Dive Studios
Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, one that’ll make you pine for the strangest things. It’ll make you fondly remember the music of your teenage years, it’ll cause you to forever seek out a flavor of ice cream that meant the world to you as a kid, and it’ll make you think that games you played were great then and would be just as much fun to play now. Trouble is, when you experience these things out of their time and out of their context, things usually take a turn for the shocking; the music you treasured is revealed to be manufactured commercial noise, the ice cream turns out to be nothing but a slightly different flavor of sugar, and the games you adored don’t hold up as well in hands that have become accustomed to modern mechanics. That last bit is vitally important to this piece, as I have just played the remastered version of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for the PC…and aside from the upscaling of resolution, some additional lighting effects and the switch to mouse-and-keyboard controls, absolutely nothing has changed. This marks a trip down memory lane that didn’t feel quite as good as I expected it to.
That’s not to say that Turok is a bad game. It’s not, it’s just old. Like, twenty years old. I remember getting this for Christmas in 1997, and I played the hell out of it. I know the original Turok backwards and forwards – where the keys are, where the Chronoscepter pieces are, you name it. The thing is, none of that’s changed, and that’s a good thing. Everything is just as I remembered it, and for a trip down memory lane, it’s a fun rehash. The only problem is that this particular trip is a few hours long, and the more time you spend on it, the more you lose that rose-tinted quality in your perspective. Flaws start to show themselves easily, and I began to see where the design philosophy of 1997 no longer fit my definition of a compelling, engaging game. That isn’t the fault of the game itself, and I won’t knock the game for being what it is, but the design of the levels, the enemies and objectives feel radically out of place in a post-Halo world.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is a game about a Native American who travels dimensions and time to a place where dinosaurs still roam the land. He has a bow, a knife, and a mectic asston of guns to choose from when destroying not only caveman-like tribal warriors, orcs and mercenaries that have found their way into this alternate plane, but the dinosaurs and lizard-like creatures that roam within it as well. This sort of plot and setting would not fly today for multiple reasons; perhaps it would work it were done in a self-deferential, Blood Dragon kind of way, but even then it would be a tough sell. You search for keys to open new areas, and you seek to put together a major weapon known as the Chronocepter, which has only three shots and no more ammo in the entire game but is able to absolutely wreck the game’s final boss like nothing else. You can beat the game without it, it’s just a much, MUCH tougher boss fight.
The major thing I noticed about the remaster is that the draw distance was extended from the N64’s ever-present fog, and the resolution was upped to match whatever value you can take it up to, which I assume would be 4K. These are toggled options, and while I certainly recommend the resulution increase, I felt that turning the fog off made the game easier by orders of magnitude when compared to its original N64 release. You used to see something running at you from the mists, and you scrambled to counterattack or dodge what was headed your way. Now, without the fog, you can hit enemies before they notice you. The sense of tension is gone, and in a game that’s already boring in the face of two decades of genre evolution, it pushes “boring” into a whole new level.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Remastered is quite literally like finding an old toy you loved as a child, having a nostalgic moment with it when you pick it up, and putting it back down soon after that moment has passed. You’re older, you’re wiser and you’ve seen and done more advanced things since the time where that toy meant something to you, so the resonance you feel with it is fleeting at best. Most cherished, hallowed classics of the medium — Megaman, Mario, etc. —are considered as such because they never feel too old, but that isn’t the case here. That’s where I am with Turok. It’s fun for a few hours or so, and going through the levels – especially the speed-run begging tutorial – was like hopping on the old bike and popping wheelies like I was 14 again. It doesn’t take long for that feeling to wear off, and due to this, I can only recommend Turok to those who loved the old game so much that they feel compelled to spend money on it again. It’s not likely to be worth the twenty-dollar purchase, otherwise. That said, it’s still a very fun game and the remastered package is done quite well, so I’m going to grade the game based on the quality of the remastered port, with however bored I became with it notwithstanding.
The review copy of this game was a digital code provided by the publisher.
It’s a fun trip through the good ol’ days, but Turok wears thin quicker than a charging velociraptor.