Farming sims have always been somewhat of a comfort blanket for gamers, especially when they involve cute characters and a laid back approach to life. Animal Crossing New Horizons, Hello Kitty Island Adventure, and Fae Farm are just a few of the recent titles I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit playing, but there’s a reason for that. Our lives are dedicated to the grind. Go to work, come home tired, go to bed. It can be a formulaic and tiresome life, yet these kind of games give us an alternative, where we meet friendly NPCs and loveable animals in serene and welcoming environments. Paleo Pines is one more to add to the list, and it’ll be one that fans of the genre will love.
While it does the same kind of things as ACNH or Story of Seasons, it manages to make it even more charming with the addition of dinosaurs. Some big, some small, yet all of them as cute as a button, even the T-Rex. It starts like any other, where you’ve got a farm filled with heaps of broken wood and stone that need clearing out, no money to your name, and no friends. The only difference is you’ve got Lucky, a parasaurolophus who’s big on helping you out and loves a bit of fuss every now and again. This will definitely appeal to players who want something different within the genre, yet the fundamentals don’t do much to break the wheel.
Much of your daily life comes from buying seeds from the local town, chatting with locals and taking on quests, often ‘collect this’ or ‘grow these’ for a cash reward. You can slowly start to turn your run down house into a home through crafting new items or buying them, and there’re other fun things to do that eat up your time on the island. There’s a neat selection of custom items and decorations that allow you to get creative, and while home furnishings are one way for your creativity to flourish, I was much more into building pens for my new collection of dino buddies.
Dinosaurs are obviously a massive part of Paleo Pines, and Italic Pig has managed to incorporate them into every facet of the game. While it’s fun to build up your collection, they also have a wide array of uses that can aid you in the work that you put in, such as helping you to dig and water your crops faster. As a human, you have a limited amount of stamina, but by utilising your dinosaurs, you’ll use their stamina when riding on them. You’ll level up through working, and there’s a decent curve to progression simply by playing. What’s fun is learning more about the dinosaurs by studying them in the wild and communicating through the use of your magic flute.
Every dinosaur has a tune they communicate with which corresponds to certain colours and button inputs. Once you’ve got their attention, you can then call to them and hopefully feed them their favourite food, pet them, and ultimately grow and affinity with them. It’s a charming process that not only adds to your family of dinos, but also eases the workload. Once they’re friendly with you, you can return home to build them a pen that needs a source of water and food, along with a Dream Stone, which, for some reason, they really, really love.
While there’re various quests to undertake, you’ll also start to learn more about the island as well as unlock new areas to explore, meaning more dinosaurs to befriend. There’s no pressure to progress, allowing you to play Paleo Pines at your own pace. For those that appreciate direction and more focus, it doesn’t always do a great job of providing this, yet it isn’t supposed to be a strict farming sim, and there have been plenty that follow this same kind of approach, such as the daddy of them all, Animal Crossing. You’re encouraged to explore and find things for yourself, chat to others and learn about everything the island has to offer.
There’s always advice for you to take, and it’s not a punishing or difficult game to play, but that’s part of its charm. The art style reminded me a lot of Disney-esque animations like Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First (my daughters watched them, OK!), and while not the best graphically, it’s a colourful and welcoming title that can be played by people of all ages. Some quality of life improvements would be appreciated, such as being able to use your journal when on the back of your dinosaur, but it’s not a massive issue when there’s not tons to research at any one time.
Paleo Pines is a stripped back farming sim where dinosaurs rule the harvest. You’ll find it at its best when communicating and befriending with the dinosaurs, and learning about what makes them tic and who likes what to eat. If you were to take away the dinos it’d be one you’d more than likely skip, but Italic Pig has tried to do something different to all the others on the market, and I’m a fan of what they’ve introduced. It’s a pretty and colourful game with a fair amount to do, and if you have younger children, it’s a great entry point for the genre.
Dinosaurs are both cute and useful
Relaxing and easy to play
Doesn't reinvent the genre
Not the best visually