Choose a fossil hunter and begin your mission of exploring the depths underground. You are tasked with putting together bones to create dinosaurs. While not being really a puzzle game, it is a puzzle game in relation to actual assembly. You need to put together pieces to match a blueprint that is on the ground. You can also create your own to gain money on the side. There are plenty of levels and tons of different bones you can use to put together your own creations of what you believe a dinosaur may have looked like. Or, you can just make goofy looking ones. Utilize dynamite, portable bridges, and supports so the cave-ins don’t destroy your goods. All in all, you will know pretty quick if you’re going to like it. If you find yourself getting bored early on, you probably won’t complete all of the caverns.
Here’s what I liked:
Casual and relaxing – The game is meant to sit back and relax. You do your puzzles, find the journal entries, and basically take your time with the game. After you complete a level’s blueprint, you can still create skeletons to earn gold to buy items for other levels. You may even enjoy trying to create gigantic dinosaurs or create unique ones. It’s a shame they don’t have an area you can play freely and just pick whichever fossils your heart desires to create a dinosaur you can be proud of.
Progress stays with you – It’s surprising to go back to a level you played hours ago and seeing everything the way you left it. Even after you exit the game, the next time you play, all is how it was before. This can put you at ease that you can drop in and out of the game whenever you’d like. Items will never just disappear and if you have to leave something behind, you can always go grab it at any time you choose. There is no time limit on anything, and the Collector’s side missions known as “requests” can be completed at your leisure.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Frustrating Fossils – While it’s a joy to pull around fossils and create skeletons, it can be a bit tedious. The caverns will have creatures that break your hard sought after fossils. I get that it adds to the difficulty and gives you an enemy of sorts, but all it does is slow down the puzzles. The moss will make the fossils impossible to move unless you clean them and that moss seems to be everywhere. The magma level lizards can’t be stopped as they walk over the puzzle pieces. You have to quickly try to save the important ones. Because the pieces are random, it can be a lot of wasted time digging, letting the cave-in happen, then digging again. You just rinse and repeat the same areas because the only parts worth digging are closest to the blueprints. Why dig across the level and have to drag fossils you need across when you can simply get them near the puzzle area? I think it would be much more interesting if the pieces were in set places. The Abyss levels, in particular, can feel frustrating. One of the latest ones has dirt and rock all around the elevator. Exiting the level can be an awful experience as you get stuck because almost every pile of dirt reveals a giant fossil you can’t walk over. You have to try digging around it, making more cave-ins happen and then you have to do it all over again, usually with more failure.
More glitches than riches – Some glitches in games can be easily overlooked, however, the plague of them encountered here actually deter your progression and are quite annoying. I almost don’t know where to start. The sound in the game can suddenly get laggy and the only way to fix it is to force quit the game. Falling into pits will sometimes become an endless pitfall where you must pause the game and choose to force respawn. Sometimes when entering a level, you will spawn stuck beside it which also makes you need to spawn yourself from the menu. It is fairly constant and questionable that the game was released with so many issues.
Items and Diamonds – There are plenty of diamonds found in the game, but you can’t do anything with them except use them to unlock certain areas. I think there was around 10 or so of these. But you gain a lot more than just 10, and you’ll have your own horde of diamonds on floor one. This can make things a little laggy. When you die in the game you lose a good amount of money, especially in the later levels where you die more often. I have been at zero gold plenty of times and needed to farm fossils just to buy bridges for some levels. Why can’t we sell the overstock in diamonds? Or at least trade them. Another issue with items is if they’re placed on objects, such as a table, they are extremely difficult to remove. The same button that grabs them also grabs the table or object. This is a struggle trying to get your item and usually just ends in giving up. The bridge item seems to need a rework. It doesn’t indicate where it will form. This means sometimes you’ll simply throw the bridge off of the cliff, or creating a bridge incorrectly. While you can buy items, they are purchased on level one. The elevator can get quite crowded, and when you need a lot of items, it means you have to go up and down through the levels to transport them. It feels like wasted time.
Lack of camera control – There is no way to control your camera angle. Rotating it would be very useful because sometimes you’re just stuck guessing where you are running. There also isn’t any minimap to help guide you around the caves, however, most of them are fairly small anyway. While not a huge deal, I just don’t know why it wasn’t added.
It’s difficult to compare this with anything else I’ve played. I mostly enjoyed it, but there were some parts that left me thinking it could have been a much better experience. I began to actually dislike the game the more I played, instead of the opposite. However, I can’t deny that overall, it was a fresh idea that I quite enjoyed. I didn’t play the cooperative mode, but it does offer up to four players at once. I’m not sure exactly what this would add, because I believe it’s very much built for only one person. The game is simple and allows for you to pace it however you please. The glitches in the game and some poor design choices leave it buried in a heap of rubble without any feeling of real accomplishment after you finish. Because of the negatives, I would have to say this game is just pretty mediocre.
Score: Limited Appeal
Fossil Hunters was developed by Reptoid Games and published by Smiling Buddha Games, LLC on Xbox One. It was released on September 12, 2018, for $16.99. A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes.