Indie Game of The Week: Orion: Dino Horde

Each week our resident Indie Gamer Nicholas takes a look at a different Indie Game that you may or may not have heard about.  Join him on his adventures as he sifts through the rubbish to find The Indie Game of the Week.

So, after last week’s rather emotional trip through the Greenbriar home, I decided we needed a change of pace. Something a little unusual. Something involving dinosaurs! 

See, a while back I saw Orion: Dino Horde on sale for three dollars. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. After all, it could be fun, right? Who knows? I might actually enjoy myself.

I think I might just stick to games I know from now on. 

That isn’t to say Dino Horde is a bad game. It isn’t. It’s just, well…it’s simply average. It’s a somewhat mediocre title that sits on the razor’s edge of greatness, reaching for it with outstretched hands. On occasion, it manages to brush this greatness with the tips of its fingers; moments like this are defined by their pure, addictive carnage.

Because of this, it’s difficult to actively hate – or even truly dislike – the title. It tries very, very hard to do what it does. The problem is, its efforts simply don’t work all that well most of the time. 

There’s not much of a story to Dino Horde – though to be fair, there doesn’t really need to be. There are dinosaurs and space marines. They don’t like each other. Congratulations, you know everything you need to know. Now go and shoot some stuff. 

Most game-types put you in the shoes of the humans, where you’re thrown into any of a number of large, open arenas. There are three different classes to choose from, each with its own special ability: Assault gains access to a jet-pack, Support has a healing gun, and Recon gains access to a stealth. 

These abilities – and your weapons- can be augmented between waves of Dinos in the standard ‘horde’ modes. This actually adds a fair bit of depth to a match: killing dinosaurs (and in some cases, other players) nets you credits. These credits can be spent at purchasing stations, where you can buy new weapons or upgrades for either your class abilities or your character. What you choose to buy will change how you play the game in a very real way – fast-moving Recon with a sniper rifle will have a markedly different play-style from a Support who’s focused on being a tank. 

As expected, pretty much every game-mode in Dino Horde features dinosaurs in some capacity. In some modes, they’re little more than a nuisance, or a means of upping your score to catch up with your foes. In others, they become a very real threat, as larger beasts such as Tyrannosaurs, Pterodactyls and Stegosaurs take to the field, attempting to slaughter the players and take down the generator that powers pretty much all of their stuff. To take down these large beasts, co-operation is a must.
Now, I’ve been saving the best for last here: Rampage, which allows you to step into the shoes of one of the dinosaurs as you make a desperate bid to defend your eggs from a team of human players. Personally, this was my favorite game-type…though even here, Dino Horde shows a bit of chipped paint around the edges. I noticed no real difference in play-style between the three different ‘types’ of dinos, and while I found controls for the humans tight and responsive, the primal reptiles controlled as though they were trudging their way through a sea of molasses.

In spite of this, it was quite enjoyable – more so than any other mode – to stamp around and crush pint-sized soldiers under my claws or in my jaws.  If Spiral had spent a little more time polishing the controls for the dinosaurs (and added a little bit more for them to do), it could have easily carried Dino Horde to greatness on its own.
As it is, it’s a game that exists on the cusp of greatness – but never quite makes it over the threshold. You can purchase it for $15 on the Steam Store, but I might suggest waiting for a sale, as I did. 

You’ve something to look forward to next week, folks – I’ll be playing Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs. 

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