I don’t think saying you’re a small studio is an excuse, in this era of games, for poor mechanics, optimization and everything else. When a single man can make a game like Dust: An Elysian Tale or a small team can put together games like Octodad and Limbo there is proof that size doesn’t matter. ORION: Dino Horde meets the criteria for a small studio but that is where the similarities to the aforementioned games stop. This game is, to be quite blunt, a pile of garbage. You tell me you’re putting dinosaurs and marines into a multiplayer shooter and I’m interested. You begin to rattle off ideas that sound like Natural Selection 2 with dinosaurs and my curiosity is peaking. Then, you tell me this game is made by the ORION: Dino Beatdown studio and that it’s honestly not much more than a do-over and suddenly that interest and curiosity explode into fleeting hope and low expectations.
It can’t be that bad can it? Oh, you poor thing. Sit down, let’s get started. “Uninspired” is the one word summary I’d use to explain 95% of ORION: Dino Horde. The weapons, vehicles, menus and locales all feel like they’ve been pulled from other games and patched together to say “hell, now we can’t generate original ideas, but by golly we can copy stuff!” I’m not accusing Spiral Studios of actually stealing content, as many have in the past, I’m simply saying the art direction is bland and unimaginative. Dinosaurs look like they fell out of an early 2000′s FPS and the same can be said about weapons and maps. In fact, the game has a very old feel to it and not in a good way.
So what is ORION: Dino Horde? Well, the main mode is a multiplayer wave-based survival mode similar to a horde-mode or whatever you call it these days. Dinosaurs coming running at you, you gun them down, rinse and repeat. The problems arise when you realize the pathing on the dinosaurs is awful, often times I thought that the dinosaurs had gotten into the whiskey before coming to attack me as they crazily stumbled left and right before running straight at me. As the waves continue, assuming you’ve stuck around that long, more dinosaurs appear and harder ones start to arrive like T-Rexes and such. After a few waves I realized that the game was optimizing terribly, shooting became difficult and the whole game felt like it was lagging. I backed out of a multiplayer game to see if it was just the servers but sure enough it wasn’t. Unfortunately, the game can’t sustain what is happening on screen and so it hiccups and sloths forward quite frequently.
Killing waves of drunken dinos leads to you gaining money which can be used for upgrades and more guns. Gun types include the standard rifles, shotguns, RPGs, and pistols while upgrades include things like extra damage and special moves. In the end it really doesn’t seem to matter as the games become a practice in the following: 1. hold down the left mouse button 2. watch drunken dinos die 3. get money 4. ALT + F4. That seems harsh but honestly nothing about this game is worth the price of admission. The visuals lack any sort of interesting quality or visual fidelity, the gameplay is basic at best when it’s actually working and the rest of the game just feels extremely rehashed. Say what you will about the history of Spiral Studios and their business practices, all I can say with absolute clarity is that ORION: Dino Horde is not worth playing.