Aside from the survival horror norms, you also have to take its (relative) science at face value, as well; the way the maze-like compound was mostly made up of corridors and rooms that were small enough to avoid portraying the logical fallacy of a human evading a raptor just by running in a zigzag pattern, for instance. Given the creatures' high intelligence and top-speed of around forty miles per hour, odds of that happening once, let alone repeatedly, are obviously slim. Similarly, unrealistic reactions to the situation (Regina's charmless response to seeing a dino-victim torn in half at the beginning of the game is delivered with all the bored nonchalance of a valley girl) are particularly cringe-worthy when viewed today.
But digging the game up again after all these years, I didn't remember any of that. You might say that a composite of all the bad or cheesy elements of earlier survival horror games just get glossed over in one's mind, since that was more or less considered just the way things were during those early popularized years of the genre. Instead what I remember is the panic of a dinosaur unexpectedly bursting out of a ceiling duct, practically knocking me over. Or the terror in my chest upon leaving that first office room, after the music from the previous cutscene ended, when a Tyrannosaurus blindsided me by crashing through the giant plate glass window in front of the room. Those are the memories that stick with you, and Dino Crisis is full of them.
It's too bad that not even Capcom really seemed to realize what it had on its hands, first converting the series' sequel into an awkward-if-fun action precursor to the Devil May Cry school of design, then coming back, years later, with a convoluted sci-fi entry that, while still having dinosaurs, was so far removed from the original idea for the series it might as well have been a different series. (The PS2's light gun-only Dino Stalker's barely counts as proper DC canon.) Perhaps in retrospect the original is best as a one-off.
So, is Dino Crisis still scary? Going by the far more advanced metric used in horror games today, not especially. I'm not suggesting that it's a perfect game by any means, though measured up to any other survival horror game of the time—even Silent Hill's would-be psychological leanings pale in comparison to where its next two sequels would go—the game isn't any worse, either. (And that being said, I am absolutely suggesting that Capcom needs to revisit the series with either a modern remake in the vein of Resident Evil's GameCube redux or a reboot.)
In any case, Dino Crisis is still worth playing, if only to see what might've been.
Dino Crisis is available now on PSN for $5.99.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*