Paleo Pines is a lifestyle simulation game where you get to farm and tame dinosaurs on your ranch. This title has everything you could want in a farming sim game and then some, which allows it to stand out from other simulation games. However, let’s see how well the gameplay holds up.
The game opens with a slide show of a dinosaur hatching and growing up. This dino is Lucky, your companion, and she’s apparently a rare species. It’s unclear whether Lucky is the last of her kind or if other Parasaurolophus are out there. That’s something you’ll discover as the story goes on.
Like many farming sims, Paleo Pines begins with you and Lucky moving to a new area. You’ll clean up your farm, grow crops, befriend the local townspeople, and tame as many dinosaur species as possible. Each dino species has its own powers, too, such as watering plants, sprinting fast, smashing rocks, and more. These powers will help you progress through the game, in addition to being adorable on your ranch.
While it seems a bit cliche, I don’t mind the games beginning with a “fresh start” for your character. I like starting anew alongside my character, even if the tutorial can be long. In Paleo Pines, the tutorial drags as various local townsfolk each have something to teach you. What’s nice about these tutorials is that they still help you progress through the game and don’t take you out of the moment. Also, I accidentally skipped some. Once I got seeds, I figured out how to plant them on my own. The next in-game morning, an NPC came by to teach me to farm but recognized that I had already done it myself.
In addition to farming and taming dinos, Paleo Pines has quests, which are what help progress the main story. Quests point you in the right direction to get to know important NPCs and explore the area further. Exploration was fun for a little while. The map is vast, but invisible walls appear out of nowhere, breaking the open-world illusion. I tried getting a crystal around a bush but couldn’t reach the bush unless I walked around to the other side of it. I spent far too long trying to figure that one out.
The quests weren’t as clear as I would have liked them to be, either. One of your first tasks is to clear the boulder leading to Dapplewood. The game shares that you need to tame a dinosaur that can smash rocks. So, I began looking for a dinosaur that could smash rocks, but I didn’t know how to tame it once I found it. I was eventually given a flute to help befriend dinosaurs. So, I attempted to befriend wild dinos, but still nothing happened. After a while, I spoke to an NPC, and she taught me how to befriend dinosaurs. It was frustrating that I knew what to do for so long but couldn’t do it until the game wanted me to.
Befriending dinos is an interesting concept. Each species has its own call, and you’ll need to mimic what they say by using the flute. Then, you can feed them their favorite food and soothe them until they’re calm enough to be friends. However, it’s a lot of trial and error. I didn’t know which species were which until I befriended them. I didn’t know what their favorite food was until I tried giving them something to see if they liked or disliked it. If the dinosaur gets too bored or too excited, it’ll run away, and you’ll have to try again. It’s a cool process, but it’s a long one.
The controls in Paleo Pines aren’t great, either. The game is also released for PC, and I felt the controls would have been much easier for a keyboard rather than an analog stick. My character needed to look at something precisely to perform a task—watering crops, petting Lucky, etc.—or else she would just shake her head.
Paleo Pines is a good game, though I think it could improve. The controls aren’t intuitive, and the quests are too linear for my liking, especially when the game tells you what you need to do but doesn’t explain there are other steps you need to take to get there.