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Dino Rancher Paleo Pines

Dino Rancher Paleo Pines

Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 10/17/2023 for SWI  
More On: Dino Rancher Paleo Pines

I’m going to cut to the chase. If you’ve read a review of mine before, there is a good chance the game I was reviewing was a farm sim. I like 'em, I love 'em, I want more of them. There is something about the genre that speaks to me. It probably has a lot to do with the first one I put serious time into, Harvest Moon 2 on the Game Boy Color. I recall taking road trips with my family and sitting in the back seat of the mini-van and playing the entire drive. And then during the entire vacation trip. And once again, on the way back home. Obsessed. Why? No idea. But I love em.

Paleo Pines is the one I’m talking about this time. What’s the schtick to this one? Dinosaurs, I dare say, my second passion after farm sims. As a child, I wanted to be an archeologist. Back then I thought that meant studying dinosaur bones. Later in life, I learned that it was actually a paleontologist who studied that, no one ever told me, thanks mom.

Paloe Pines takes place in Veridian Valley, a place where dinosaurs still exist, and are in use every day. You and your Parasaurolophus Lucky have recently become new home owners and have set a goal to grow your own crops, research dinosaurs, and explore. The premise doesn’t seem too crazy and over the top, simply because it isn’t. Even the character creator, that I liked, isn’t filled with a huge plethora of options; but it does allow for non-gender-specific characters. Features like that are becoming more and more frequent in the farm sim genre, and I love it. Inclusion for all can not be a bad feature. Diversity is noticeable in the townsfolk of Veridian, again, a welcome feature.

But let’s talk about the main focus of Paloe Pines, the dinos. It’s obvious to me that this was the biggest element to the game, and it shows. The look, details, and gameplay of said dinos is great. Even the science behind how to care for them seems to reflect some real-world qualities. And besides that, they look adorable. Paloe Pines makes the biggest focus on raising dinosaurs, something that I haven’t experienced in the genre before. The interactions with them are good, you can even have them help with other daily chores as you see fit; you get a dino that helps water crops early on and it is a godsend. You can even pet the dinosaurs. 10/10 - nothing else matters.

Another element I really enjoyed was the map. I was surprised by the size of the available play area. There is way more to explore and see than I would have thought, in a good way. It doesn’t seem like filler to be filler, or just massive amounts of open space you can explore that doesn’t really hold anything worthwhile to see and experience.

Farming is very cut and dry with Paleo Pines. It doesn’t shake the genre to some new foundation, but it also doesn’t under-utilize this element. It’s there, it feels very similar to other farm sims, which is good if you like the genre, might be annoying if you want to try something new. I love the upkeep of a farm. I like the daily chores and seeing it slowly progress to a massive farm. That’s here, it works.

Of course there are other things you can do besides farming and caring for dinosaurs. Plenty of errands to run for townspeople, side quests, crafting, and taming other dinosaurs to add to your always-growing collection of dinos are here. I never ran into any gameplay or game breaking problems with any of the other main elements of Paleo Pines. All of these things you can do are also done at a very relaxed pace. No hurry for anything, so you can focus on what you want, when you want. The daily cycle is fine, if you’ve played a farm sim or two then it will feel right at home. Again, nothing groundbreaking to the genre, and that’s ok.

I only played Paleo Pines on the Switch, but I feel there are a few issues that may or may not be present in other versions. The camera was a bit bothersome. I think the kids say janky these days? It feels janky. If you don’t move the camera there is no issue, but then you are stuck with that angle, which isn’t always the best way to see what is going on. I love the inclusion of touch screen controls, I wish there was more to do with them though. It feels like I can reply to dialogue options and that was the end of touchscreen support. Load times are not great going between locations on the Switch, but most games, especially ones put out this year, load slower than on other systems.

I can see myself playing Paloe Pines longer than most of the farm sims I’ve tried. While nothing groundbreaking, it does a lot of things correctly, plus, you know, dinosaurs. There is plenty to see and experience. Townspeople, general exploration, farming, and plenty of fetch quests that only get a little annoying. On top of all of that, you have the added element of the dinosaurs, which are fun to collect and using them to help with tasks is fun, useful, and something I didn’t know I wanted in a farm sim. The camera sucks, load times are bad, and there is oddities here and there that take away from the pleasantness. It’s not bad, it is completely playable even with those faults. When I have nothing but free time on my hands, unbothered by every day tasks, Paleo Pines fits the bill better than most.

I haven’t much negative to say about Paleo Pines. I don’t love it, but I do like it a lot. The retail price of $29.99 is more than fair considering what you get – you get a lot of bang for your buck. I was able to overlook the basic visuals to see the magic behind them. While the farming elements feel basic, the dinos make this game stand out from the crowd. Collecting and taking care of them is worthwhile and feels rewarding in the long run.

Rating: 7 Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

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