Fossilfuel 2 – Jurassic lark

Are you singing the Jurassic Park theme in your head too?

Bring back Dino Crisis with Fossilfuel 2. Sort of.

With Capcom just not listening to how much people want a remake of Dino Crisis, I’m surprised there haven’t been more dinosaur-centric survival horror games. Luckily, there’s always an indie studio willing to do something to fill even the smallest of niches, and DangerousBob Studio seem to be doing just that. I didn’t play the original Fossilfuel, but I don’t think it really matters as I was more than able to have a really fun time with the creatively named Fossilfuel 2. I have no idea why there isn’t a space between the two words though.

In Fossilfuel 2, you play a special forces soldier, who I think was named Jack, who has been sent to an Alaskan research facility to retrieve data after communications stopped. This probably follows on from the first game, but really it doesn’t seem to matter much, as it becomes clear very quickly that the people here were bringing dinosaurs back and running experiments with them. If they’d ever watched any movies they’d know what the consequences would be. Anyway, you get shipwrecked on the way there and have to go in alone, occasionally contacted by other members of the team who are around the island. The underground facility is flooded, swarming with dinosaurs, and overseen by a rogue AI that really doesn’t want that data to be taken.

Fossilfuel 2
Well someone had a bad day.

At its absolute base level, this is a first-person shooter with dinosaurs, but when playing you can somewhat feel those classic Resident Evil influences. You’ll go back and forth between a selection of areas in each part of the game, finding keycards and solving simple puzzles to progress. Early on you find yourself with a pistol and a handful of bullets that barely scrape the dinosaurs’ hides, but later you’ll be packing shotguns, assault rifles, and a blisteringly powerful revolver. It has that escalation from terrified fleeing from enemies to taking the fight back to them that classic survival horrors did well. There are even one-use USB drives for saving your game, which is a nice narrative touch of not wanting the AI to mess with your saved data. Maybe that’s just me reading too much into it.

It’s a shame that the whole thing only lasts about two hours on a first run-through on normal difficulty, which really isn’t much for a game charging around £15. Luckily, there’s a fair bit more to the package. The game has multiple endings for a start, some of which are obvious, others requiring a little more work. It’s quite fun to go back through and see how wildly different the endgames are. I won’t spoil anything, but when I say wildly different, I’m not exaggerating. Hidden collectibles in the form of dinosaur fact cards can be found that unlock a sandbox mode where you can spawn in any number of dinosaurs, NPCs, and assets to just mess around. Add to that a basic horde survival mode and you’ve actually got quite a lot to play around with. The only real disappointment there is that the sandbox and horde modes don’t have multiplayer support which would have made the latter tremendously enjoyable.

Fossilfuel 2
The bosses aren’t really a highlight, but at least the first one has something beyond shooting it until it falls down.

Now, the moment-to-moment gameplay can feel a little janky at times. Climbing ladders doesn’t always work the first time, picking up tiny items is fiddly, and the gunplay is looser and less accurate than I’d like. Then there are animations, especially when killed, that look very cheap, and the voice acting that’s comedically all over the place. But the thing is, all this works. It’s like watching a B-movie in that you know it won’t be perfect, but you’ll probably have a great time whilst you’re experiencing it. Fossilfuel 2 has its tongue so firmly pressed into its cheek that it’s popping out the side of its face. The hammy over-the-top AI, the ludicrous amount of bloody chunks that fly off a shotgunned dinosaur’s head, and the glorious Robo-rex rap you can find in a hidden room. It all makes it clear that this isn’t to be taken too seriously, and that the devs probably had a whale of a time making it.

The visuals vary between quite impressive to somewhat laughable. Character models are pretty weak when you look too closely, but the lighting is really rather nice. The combination of lighting and the lack of music throughout most of the game do a really good job of creating atmosphere. Walking through the labs with just a torch to light the area and not even a sound beyond my own footsteps was a very well done section, and there are plenty of these throughout the short runtime. The guns sound meaty and show the effects of their power, at least once you’ve upgraded from the pistol, when they take apart a dinosaur. It may be low budget, but that budget is used well.

Fossilfuel 2
You spend 90% of the game underground, but the outdoor locations looks quite nice thanks to the lighting effects.

Whilst this isn’t going to be the greatest dinosaur survival horror ever made, Fossilfuel 2 is a surprisingly enjoyable first-person shooter that deserves a look from fans pining for a brief, prehistoric adventure. There’s silly fun to be had, and I feel that that’s what the developers were aiming for, so I would count this as a roaring success.

Fossilfuel 2 is available now on Xbox and PC.

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