Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading.
In this explanatory review, we’re covering Paleo Pines by developer Italic Pig:
Paleo Pines (The Explanation)
Paleo Pines is a farming simulation style game that borrows mechanics from Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing yet creates a spin on the tried-and-true sim gameplay to pave its own path. In Paleo Pines you take on a dilapidated farm paired with a dinosaur friend to rebuild and customize your space while also helping townspeople scattered around the map.
At first glance, Paleo Pines tries to be endearing and capture people who desire a new take on age old classic simulation games. While the unique mechanic of riding atop dinosaurs and interacting with them to help farm and complete tasks, I couldn’t help but feel that the game falls short in some key areas.
You begin your game by naming and creating your character in a simple character creator system. There are enough options there to create a unique character, though some areas in the creator seem to be lacking. Once completed you are dropped into your farm and greeted by a few neighbors looking to help you get acclimated. They detail a bit of the ropes in terms of learning what to do with your dinosaur pal and farmland and are quickly on their way.
After a few initial tasks around your farm, fixing the stairs to your house, planting some crops, and setting up a pen for your dinosaur you are able to explore the world and head into town. Along the way you will see other dinosaurs roaming the world, but at this point in time you haven’t learned how to charm them yet.
Upon entering the town, you are tasked with meeting other citizens and helping them out with some required exploration. At this point the game felt like a bland series of fetch quests. Since the game is all dialogue boxes there is a lot to read which may be off putting to some. Animations are quirky as well since during more than one scene NPCs would walk across the screen and bump into or get caught in walking animations. As you move throughout the world there is a lot of pop-in as well as graphics, geometry, and textures popped in suddenly or didn’t load in at all.
After meeting a few of your neighbors and fulfilling the initial task around the market area you will head back out into Veridian Valley with a few more quests. Approaching another NPC who is out researching the various “singing and dancing” that the dinosaurs are doing you will get awarded a flute. This flute allows you to play a minigame which you can use to befriend other dinosaurs, which is a big element of the gameplay in Paleo Pines. I didn’t get far into the musical befriending of the other dinosaurs but overall, the mechanic reminded me of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’s magical flute puzzle solving.
Overall, my time in Paleo Pines seemed promising. The game has some small quirks as far as character animation and movement, but the loop of building your base of operations, meeting and befriending neighbors and dinosaurs to help out with tasks is a unique spin on the genre that I suspect many will find endearing. Younger gamers may struggle with some of the task-oriented missions which require you to talk to certain people, however the mission log is easy to navigate. If you like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossings but want something different from your farming simulation games, Paleo Pines has a good bit of variety, even if the overall package is a little clunky in some areas.
Paleo Pines (The Gameplay)
Developers: Italic Pig
Publisher: Maximum Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Lifestyle, Simulation, Adventure, Other
No. of Players: 1 (Single System)
Release Date: NA|EU: September 26, 2023
File Size: 3 GB