My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!
#10 Dead Cells
#9 Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
#8 Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee!
#6 Jurassic World Evolution
Developer: Frontier Developments
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
I have fond memories playing Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis back in the early 2000s. It was basically a dino-themed Sim Theme Park but with excellent use of the official license and a truly impressive dinosaur AI. Fast-forward a decade and a half later and we finally get the spiritual successor we deserve.
Frontier Developments streamlined much of their also excellent Planet Coaster to make a more console-friendly theme park game, but thankfully they kept the intricate dinosaur AI that makes managing, caring for, and dealing with dinosaurs so rewarding and fascinating.
The campaign is broken up into multiple islands, each with their own specific challenges and objectives, like extremely limited building spaces, or tropical storms that knock out your power grid and soon cause running and screaming. DNA progress and unlocked research carry over between islands, letting you hop back and forth and essentially play multiple games at once.
Figuring out how the most efficient and effective ways to manage the dinosaurs is a satisfying puzzle, as each species has specific requirements towards foliage, social herds, and enclosure size. It’s even a viable strategy to feed herbivores to carnivores and let dinos duke it out, increasing their star rating and boosting sales, turning everyone into the callous, nature-strangling overlords that Dr. Ian Malcom warned us about.
I admit that 2016’s Planet Coaster is ostensibly a better, and more robust theme park game, but I’m a huge sucker for dinosaurs and Jurassic World Evolution is the closest thing to a Jurassic Park dream game I’ve been waiting over a decade for.