Viveport Review: ARK Park
The idea of a living, breathing dinosaur-based theme park in virtual reality is brought to its knees by over saturation and a lack of any real identity.
By Joshua Hawkins, Greenlit Content
More is not always better. When ARK Park was first announced, I was excited, even enamored at the idea. However, now that I’ve had a chance to actually dive into the game and try it out for myself, I really can’t help but feel like the developers have over-extended themselves by trying to fit everything that you do in the original ARK: Survival Evolved into the virtual reality edition.
It’s really easy to overdo things in virtual reality. When I first stepped into ARK Park, I was expecting a relaxing experience that would let me walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds of the island. Instead, I found myself thrust into this crafting, survival, wave-based shooter that just barely lets you grow your own dinosaurs, feed them, and ride them down a linear path. It’s an insane amount of content thrust upon you at once, and for the first hour or so it feels really good. However, it’s when you continue putting time into it that things start to take a turn for the worse.
It’s literally just the same thing over and over again. You unlock new regions. You travel to them. You walk around, put on your leather gloves, swipe at some plants for crafting materials, then return home to craft stuff and grow your dinosaurs. Once a dinosaur reaches full growth, you can then ride it through a linear path, but that’s really about all you can do with them. If you want, you can also feed your dinosaurs, though the animations are a bit clunky.
All around, when it comes to visuals, ARK Park looks the part. The forests and dinosaurs all look really good, though you aren’t going to be blown away if you’ve played other games like Apex Construct or the Ready Player One OASIS beta. They’re passable though, and it helps to bring the world to life pretty well.
The biggest plus I found with ARK Park is the game’s audio. The audio design here is magnificent. It helps to bring the world to life through the sounds of the forest, the dinosaurs, and more. The noises that dinosaurs make are all immensely well-crafted and really help the creatures feel alive as you interact with them. There’s no bad bits here, and that really helps to create a believable atmosphere despite the other issues that the game has.
I really want to love ARK Park. It’s a great idea and it has some really good things about it—like the visuals and the audio design. Unfortunately, the developers have just tried to do too much with it, and the game itself doesn’t even have its own identity, which makes it hard for me to recommend it to people, as I’m not even completely sure how to classify it among the ranks of other virtual reality titles out there.
ARK Park is available on Viveport.