On my list of ideal pets, a T-Rex doesn’t rank very high. They probably eat a lot, potentially including yourself, the back yard fence probably won’t keep them in, and I cant even imagine how hard it would be to clean up when they shit. Nevertheless, Robinson: The Journey starts out with the player character, Robin, stumbling across a T-Rex nest where he decides to adopt a freshly hatched female T-Rex named Laika, against the better judgementof his HIGS unit, an AI companion.
AI and Dinosaurs? You bet. Robinson: The Journey is set in the far future, where humanity sends a colony of several thousand people to Tyson III, a lush planet more than a century away from Earth. However things don’t go as smoothly as they hoped, and the spaceship ends up crashing into the surface of Tyson III, stranding Robin in an escape pod by himself in the middle of the thick primordial jungle. Together with his HIGS unit, Robin does his best to survive against a world full of dinosaurs, while looking for traces of other survivors among the wreckage that rained down on the planet.
I was excited for a first person adventure game in VR, until I learned why most VR games have you stand in one spot most of the time. The game was one of the first VR games to give me motion sickness, at least when I started playing. Eventually I think I got used to it, and despite this, Robinson: The Journey features some nice visuals including stunning vistas as you look over the jungle from atop cliffs and trees. The jungle feels very dense and organic, even with linear, clear cut paths for you to follow, and the environments you’ll find yourself in throughout the game are rich and varied.
There’s actually a surprising amount of depth to the backstory that can be found scattered throughout data logs found around the jungle. After a while you start to piece together the events that lead to the disaster, as well as the dynamics of a society living aboard a giant space ship. It’s nothing revolutionary for games to leave tidbits of story for players to discover on their own, but it serves as a reward for exploration.
You’d think the gameplay would be packed full of Jurassic Park type moments, but you’d think wrong. The first hour or so of the game is actually kind of boring, and doesn’t sell itself well on the dinosaurs. Instead, it has you running around your camp, doing chores. Actually running around probably isn’t the best term since they left out any sort of sprint function, which can be frustrating at times to say the least. That’s not to say there aren’t any tense moments – there are parts where you’ll have close brushes with pterodactyls, or you’ll need to sneak past raptors, and coming face to face with them is a terrifying moment even in VR. These moments are a bit too few and far between for my liking though.
The game features some puzzle elements, particularly the electrical puzzles are enjoyable. These involve having to route power in a way that distributes the required amount of power to each node. However I felt that most of the puzzle aspects were overshadowed by the excessive amount of climbing sections. These involved scaling cliffs, trees, and space ship scraps to reach new areas, either as part of solving a puzzle or to reach new areas, but they just ended up feeling like padding at times.
While there are some impressive moments to behold, Robinson: The Journey isn’t the action packed dinosaur fest I was hoping for. While there’s plenty to discover, there are times where it just feels a bit too tedious to properly get into. The fact that it can be completed in about 4-5 hours doesn’t warrant the full release price either in my opinion, but I guess it’s the closest we’ll get to Jurrasic Park being a reality.