Game Reviews

Dinosaur Slayer

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Dinosaur Slayer

Some idiot has ripped a hole in the time-space continuum, spilling seven shades of Triassic fury upon the land. Or maybe a reckless entrepreneur opened a theme park nearby or - oh, whatever, DINOSAURS ARE ATTACKING THE CASTLE!

Dinosaur Slayer is one of those ultra-niche-because-they’re-ultra-brutal castle defence games, that pit you (the hero) against hordes of stuff (dinosaurs) armed with some sort of bow weapon (a ballista).

It’s man versus monster with the most inconvenient ordnance imaginable. If the ancient Romans had invented reality TV, it probably would have been something like this.

Spared no expense

Each stage chucks a bunch of angry flying animals at your fortress, gradually increasing in number and might. Your job is to shoot these ghastly anachronisms out of your airspace before they break everything.

Every dinosaur you pop out of the sky nets you some cash, and the carcass can be retrieved by a little guy in a boat for troop rations. In between stages, you can blow gold on upgrades including additional firepower, improved fortress defence, and magic spells.

You fire your ballista by sliding a finger across the screen to aim, then holding and releasing the relevant ammo or spell icon on the bottom of the screen to squeeze one off. The longer you hold down the icon, the further you shoot. You can also tap the icon before aiming, leaving the shot to charge up while you’re tweaking launch vectors.

It’s clumsy but functional. It's worth noting if you’re one of those special people who prefer to do things with their left hands, you might feel somewhat put out by the right-handedness of this control scheme.

Don’t get cheap on me, Dodgson

As straightforward as it is, Dinosaur Slayer has some utterly inscrutable elements. I have absolutely no idea why upgrading stuff increases the number of men in the keep and what exactly the whole point of food is.

Is there a novelty Dino Diner™ fast food franchise management mini-game I’ve missed somewhere here? The in-game 'help' screens do nothing whatsoever to solve this mystery, either. I can only assume the food is there to feed the guys in the keep, but that just makes the two a self-contained, self-sustaining cycle entirely removed from the rest of the game.

Or maybe it’s got some significance later on in the game, but that’s also largely irrelevant because the game’s so absurdly difficult that you're unlikely to ever get much past the upper teens. This also applies to most of the upgrades advertised.

Dinosaur Slayer plays fairly well and the increasingly frantic pacing makes for a reasonable diversion from whatever else you’re supposed to be doing, but its relentlessly unforgiving difficulty recommends it only to the dedicated hardcore or anyone who just really, really loves shooting dinosaurs.

Dinosaur Slayer

A cool concept let down by clumsy controls and difficulty sharper than the teeth of a Tyrannosaurus Rex
Tarryn van der Byl
Tarryn van der Byl
A pathologically reclusive supervillain, Tarryn spends most of her time pretending she's shooting big, technologically improbable guns at aliens and avoiding meaningful social interaction. She also gets paid to do this. This life business couldn't have worked out much better.