If you ever wondered what happened to that Barbasol can full of stolen dinosaur embryos, Telltale has just the adventure game for you. Jurassic Park: The Game picks up after Dennis Nedry gets a face full of Dilophosaurus spit (also, eaten) and drops the can, which, it turns out, has a locating device inside. So the plot of the game runs partly parallel to the 1993 movie; at one point, for instance, you'll see the last chopper out of Isla Nublar flying Dr. Grant et al to safety.
It also deals with what happens to the park after the events of the film (fans might recall the second film takes place on a different island). Except for Gerry Harding, the park's chief veterinarian and a minor part in the first movie, all of the characters are original. As the game begins, we join Miles, who had been waiting for Nedry to deliver the embryos, and Nima, a former Isla Nublar native hired as a guide, as they arrive at the site of Nedry's abandoned jeep, which is balanced on a ledge in Dilophosaurus territory.
The game takes the form of a point-and-click-style adventure in 3D environments, laced with cutscenes and dialogue options. It combines slower, puzzle-based sections and quick-time-like action in the same vein as cinematic adventure Heavy Rain. Mark Darin, one of the lead designers, says Heavy Rain had "a lot of influence" on Telltale's approach to Jurassic Park: The Game. "I like the way they told a story," he says, though notes he found it occasionally "tedious in the controls."
The can is nowhere to be found around the jeep, leaving Nima, a tracker and smuggler by trade, to decipher clues left in the shape of footprints, broken glass, a gnawed corpse, and the like. There's no direct steering of a character around the environment; instead, you select the area you want to investigate and then find and examine the items within.
The clue finding is followed by an action sequence; when they are inevitably attacked by dinosaurs, Nima has to get into the jeep, start it, and drive off before being spat on or chewed up. This is accomplished via quick-time prompts, with a combination of left bumper press and analog stick twirl, for instance. The scene plays out differently according to player skill, with allowances for greater or lesser degrees of success, though the player character can also die. In that case, he or she will be respawned a few steps back in the sequence.
With the likeable Back to the Future game recently under its belt, Telltale should be comfortable adapting another much-loved sci-fi flick. Alan Johnson, Telltale's head of PR and social media, says the studio isn't about cheap cash-ins based on popular non-game properties (there's a Walking Dead tie-in game in the works, too). "We're not just slapping logos on things," he says. Jurassic Park: The Game will draw on the movie's original soundtrack and iconic sound effects, such as the T. rex roar and Dilophosaurus screech.
It'll also flesh out areas of the island that get only fleeting mentions in the film, such as the park rides and a marine facility for water dinos. The game is coming to the PC and Mac in episodic downloadable form from November 15, with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 releases to follow. Though Johnson says Telltale is still "very committed to episodic games," the Xbox 360 will be receiving a full retail version; that is, all four episodes, each a few hours long, on the same disc.