Dinosaur Fossil Hunter Review: Digging Up Dreams

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter is a paleontology simulator where you control an aspiring paleontologist starting their career. It has a touching story that reminds you of chasing childhood dreams mixed with paleontology. While the premise is great for aspiring paleontologists, its charm will be lost on those who are not interested in paleontology.

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter Review: Digging Up Dreams

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter is a first person simulation game where you take control of a young paleontologist who is starting to develop their career. This eventually leads to them filling a museum with their discoveries. As a budding paleontologist, you will be traveling to dig sites to uncover fossils, then ship them to a museum. Similar to simulation games such as Spellcaster University, you are playing a paleontologist at they establish their career.

The story has good development for a simulation game, properly reflecting the difficulties involved in pursuing your childhood dreams. The actual paleontology work is detailed and gives players a good idea of what being a paleontologist is all about. However, there isn’t much content to attract anyone other than aspiring paleontologists. Gameplay can also feel repetitive despite the different locations, fossils and conveniences you unlock.

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter — Cinematic Trailer

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter is currently available on PC.

Story – Pursuing Your Childhood Dream

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter narrates a story from the perspective of an experienced paleontologist recounting their development. From their interest in dinosaurs to getting experience in fossil discovery, you will see a glimpse of the paleontologist’s journey.

The story is told in a way that players who had childhood dreams can relate to, especially if they found dinosaurs to be an engaging topic. You remember what it was like to work towards your dream, which helps with the immersion.

We can all remember the first time we decided on our career path.

We can all remember the first time we decided on our career path.

It isn’t just nostalgic memories, there are the typical ups-and-downs that the paleontologist experiences as they progress in their career. The parallels to real-life experiences in the job market and career development are there, and it helps the player relate to the character.

There is a foregone conclusion in that the main character does succeed in achieving their dream (which is established in the beginning of the game), but that doesn’t stop you from supporting the protagonist from doing hard work in the field, or feeling disappointed when things just don’t go their way.

Job troubles after graduation are relatable, and make you want to help the character succeed.

Job troubles after graduation are relatable, and make you want to help the character succeed.

The power of the story makes you feel as if you have to prove that you are an amazing paleontologist. You will approach every fossil expedition feeling excited but determined, aiming to get results every time.

Gameplay – A Day In The Life

When you think of a paleontologist, you often think of dig sites where many fossils are scattered throughout the area. Dinosaur Fossil Hunter takes you on a more realistic take on the fossil discovery process, showing you how difficult paleontology actually is.

Excavation – More Than Just Digging

You will be selecting the right vehicle for your upcoming expedition, bringing along the necessary materials to avoid running into problems. You need to drive to a dig site, removing obstacles along the path to make travel convenient. After you have reached the dig site, you need to prepare it for excavation and then search for fossils.

You will use a chainsaw to remove trees, not cut up fossils.

You will use a chainsaw to remove trees, not cut up fossils.

Fossils won’t be common, and you will need to pay attention to your tools to detect them in the ground. When you have a lead, you will begin digging for fossils, hoping that your lead will reveal what you are looking for. You may have to go through several false positives before you find a fossil.

Once you find your fossil, you have to preserve it, then transfer it to a crate that is loaded into your vehicle. After finding all the fossils you need, you deliver the fossils back to the expedition hub to send them to the museum.

It is a process that can be grueling, but gives an accurate portrayal of a paleontologist’s work. While some aspects have been made easier for the game (such as the technology that helps you find fossils), it is a good demonstration of the work that goes into being a paleontologist. It isn’t just about finding new fossils, but making sure that your discoveries are treated properly.

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many deviations from this process. You might be searching for more fossils, driving different vehicles and even hiring workers to help you, but you aren’t doing anything fundamentally different throughout the game.

Finding potential fossil locations gets boring after a while.

Finding potential fossil locations gets boring after a while.

Presentation – Displaying The Final Result

When the fossils are back at the museum, you will remove them from the preservation material and clean them. You can then put the uncovered fossil towards a dinosaur skeleton or keep it in your storage if it doesn’t fit the dinosaur you are currently working on.

To wrap up the assembly process, you will get to create a museum exhibit. It is a nice transition from the excavation work where you get to present your latest work in a way that you find appealing.

You get to choose how your new discovery looks to the public.

You get to choose how your new discovery looks to the public.

You can choose your own plants, water levels (if you want any water), even the room decorations. Being able to come up with the best presentation for your exhibit feels like you are shaping a museum yourself, giving the public a good look at your latest findings.

Repetition – The Charm Disappears

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter has a large problem: repetition. The process has a great way of awakening (or re-awakening) your excitement when you make a discovery. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last.

The activities can be time-intensive, with only fossil variety providing anything new. The cleaning activities in particular are a big time sink, requiring precise movements and multiple tools to clean the bones.

Eventually, the charm will wear off after the routine sets in. The joys of excavation are replaced by the drudgery of repeating the same task to proceed with the game.

In a manner similar to Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, you can only do so much of the same task before the fun disappears. It will then stop being extraordinary and feel like a routine chore, even if that is actual paleontology work.

You can assign the museum workers to do some tasks for you, but it takes the joy out of actually doing the work yourself.

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter succeeds at making you feel like a paleontologist, but these activities would likely not appeal to those who aren’t already avid paleontologists. For a player who enjoys simulation games in general, there isn’t much here that would drag you in if you weren’t already a keen paleontologist.

Audio & Visuals – Realistic Discoveries On Display

Fossil displays at museums look grand, and the fossils you find in Dinosaur Fossil Hunter are equally impressive. There is a lot of detail on the fossils, the cleaning process and the exhibit displays.

Picking up a rock doesn’t feel like you are picking up a texture, but an actual piece of history from a bygone era. Putting together a dinosaur skeleton actually looks like a proper structure and not just a drawing on a board. Everything looks realistic, which helps to immerse the player in the experience of being a paleontologist.

The exhibits look realistic, and the details in the bones are clear.

The exhibits look realistic, and the details in the bones are clear.

The music that plays in the background is soft and soothing, while matching the activity at hand. You never feel that the music is inappropriate, or that it sounds out of place. It feels like the music you would want at a dig site or in a famous museum.

This review for Dinosaur Fossil Hunter was played on Steam with a key provided by Pyramid Games.

Summary
Dinosaur Fossil Hunter makes you feel like a paleontologist who wants to succeed in their dream career, immersing you in a relatable story that resembles real-life career struggles. The paleontology work is as accurate as possible, and the graphics really make you feel the gravity of a discovery or completed exhibit. While the charm can quickly wear off with repetitive activities that only avid paleontologists could continue to enjoy, it is a solid simulation experience that shows you a day in the life of a paleontologist.
Good
  • Story is relatable, immersing you in the game
  • Gameplay feels like actual paleontology work
  • Immersion is boosted by good graphics
Bad
  • There isn’t much in the game for those who aren’t interested in paleontology
  • Few variations in activities
  • The initial joy of museum work is quickly replaced by boredom
7
Good
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