What if you could experience a time when dinosaurs and humans could coexist? Devour free of course. They would aid you in your daily tasks, like giving a ride into town. Perhaps greet you with floating visible hearts as they stomp their little feet. Developers Italic Pig and Modus Games publishers embrace this concept in Paleo Pines, a cozy-esque farming simulator.
In Paleo Pines, players take residence on an island, nesting in Veridian Valley. The valley with its rolling hills and blooming shrubbery, is colorful and bright. In the distance, smaller dinosaurs playfully gallop on clover patches and call to each other along a flowing river. Across the path are mid-size pink and green three-horned dino pals chasing one another. This is the starting area where you’ll begin to uncover a lost history where various species of dinosaurs roam the environment. With your own dino companion Lucy, you acquire a ranch and gradually restore it to full working condition while learning about new dinosaurs.
Most days are spent restoring and organizing the ranch however you see fit. Initially, you are greeted by some curious locals upon arrival whom you’ll frequently converse with throughout your gameplay. Through a slow introduction, days can start to feel tedious and quickly repetitive. More so in the earlier periods where players were limited to Pebble Plaza, the main town square. While the entire Veridian Valley is free to roam and explore, Pebble Plaza is where players will pick up the bulk of side quests and the hub for purchasing goods like crops.
Dialogue with some of the townsfolk felt flat. While colorful with character, there wasn’t anything remarkable or distinguishable that made the frequent encounters bonding. It does open up, though. Slowly. Once introduced to how to befriend dinosaurs, Paleo Pines started to recapture my interest, and this is where Paleo Pines shines best.
The free, wandering dinosaurs respond to the musical notes of a flute. Through four notes, players will have a set of commands that they can communicate to any dinosaur with. With the many types of dinosaurs to uncover, as well as biomes, each area and dino holds different resources and abilities. To uncover how each dinosaur could further help in your daily tasks, you’ll first need to befriend them.
Each dinosaur has a unique friend call. When interacting with a dino, they will prompt players with their greetings. The greeting call will have a sequence of notes that are similar to what can be played back on the flute. Continually play the right sequence of notes and eventually, they will come closer. Once there is a slight window of trust, players will need to offer the right Poppin dessert, a local specialty that can be picked up and crafted in Pebble Plaza, to seal the deal. Once friendships are earned through music and food, they will then follow you back to the ranch.
Research and discovery is core to Paleo Pines. Holding a journal is how players will notate and uncover dinosaur abilities, likes, and needs. For example, Lucy would like more dino companions in her pen but might feel uncomfortable with an omnivore. Additionally, the journal is where all information regarding crops, tracking quests, and important calendar dates like birthdays can be viewed. Players can utilize the journal to also track when a new season is approaching. Separated into three seasons, Jurassos, Cretumnus, and Trissea, each brings about different resources that can be forged in the wild, so there’s something to look forward to.
Whether it’s from an academic perspective or merely out of sheer curiosity for something unfamiliar built from our youth, there’s a fascination for dinosaurs. Paleo Pines creates a world and system that tickles that wonder without the anxiety of being chased by towering carnivorous beings. Just like trying to befriend and understand these ancient beings, however, you’ll need patience.
Paleo Pines is a slow burn, and the game holds itself slightly back with characters that don’t have to keep you engaged. At times, characters are unapproachable to complete a request because they have not walked to their respective spot. Aimless wandering townsfolk with awkward dialogue engagement offer little substance to the more vocal main cast. Still, players who enjoy relaxed farming sims and dinosaurs will gradually want to discover and create a harmonious environment alongside these beings.
Paleo Pines is now available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.
Paleo Pines is a slow burn, and the game holds itself slightly back with characters that don’t have to keep you engaged…Still, players who enjoy relaxed farming sims and dinosaurs will gradually want to discover and create a harmonious environment alongside these beings.