Paleo Pines review — Become a pied piper for prehistoric friends!

Cozy dino sim Paleo Pines launched on September 26th on PC, PS4 and PS5, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. There are a few simple features to Paleo Pines, and while most of them are quite enjoyable, others left me feeling disappointed. Exploring, completing main story quests, and receiving small side quests from villagers are two of the bigger components to the game. Discovering dinosaurs and befriending them is the highlight of Paleo Pines. However, it’s not as easy as it seems.

Paleo Pines - Official Launch Trailer

The main story (so far) is based around your dino buddy Lucky, who might be the only Parasaurolophus alive. You’re given the quest of trying to find others of his kind. At the very start of the game, the townsfolk give you a ranch, and of course things are pretty run down. The game gives you tutorials on how to use Lucky to clean things up, and shows you how to build enclosures for dinosaurs. Although there is a house on the property, you are never actually ever able to go inside which is quite the letdown.

You can also farm on the ranch, growing a wide variety of crops and veggies. While you can feed these veggies to your dinos as treats for reputation, you can’t use them as actual food. Each dino pen needs to have a trough, and either herbivore food, carnivore food, or both in the instance your dinos are omnivores. The only way you can get this food is either picking up pieces of food scattered throughout the island, or buying it in town from a vendor. Finding food in the wild is not a reliable way to feed your dino friends, as you’ll usually only find a few pieces each day.

My Gallimimus, Green Bean, helping me water my crops!

Your dinosaurs will also need an item called a Dreamstone in order to sleep at night. You can find these in the wild in Veridian Valley, and sometimes the townsfolk will give them to you as a reward for a quest. The Dreamstones can be upgraded to change the biome of the enclosures to suit your dinosaur’s needs. Some dinos like the valley, some like the forest, and their happiness depends on that.

Dreamstones aren’t that easy to come by though, and you might be tempted to run out and tame every adorable dinosaur you come across. The bad news is that each dinosaur needs a Dreamstone, so if you have three in a pen, you need three Dreamstones. Paleo Pines loves to gate you behind quests, or dinosaur relationship levels, keeping you locked out of certain places that have more Dreamstones to pick up.

Paleo Pines is bright and cheery, with the most adorable dinosaur friends.

In the beginning of the game, earning shells (the currency the townsfolk use) is hard to come by. Lucky can break down the rock and wood piles on your ranch property, which you can sell for shells, but building the enclosures for the pens requires purchasing fences and gates from a vendor in town. This was another really confusing design feature; we have a ton of wood on our property but we can’t use it to build with. Going back and forth between town to get more pieces, or to buy food got really old, when we technically should be able to use the resources on our own farm. Add in some days the vendors who sell those things aren’t in town, and it can get frustrating. I felt like the cost of food and building materials were a tad too high early on.

The fact that acquiring Dreamstones, and the cost of building pens can make things difficult honestly makes the game less enjoyable for me. The dinosaurs in Paleo Pines are SO cute, and they all have specific things they can do for your farm, like watering crops for example. You can also ride most of them too! All of that is super fun, but keeping us from freely being able to get as many dinosaurs as we want really takes the fun out of it. The large Dreamstones are very hard to come by in Veridian Valley, and it isn’t until you open up the Dapplewood area you can find more. Managing all of their food can become expensive as well, so it’s definitely a balancing act.

I loved playing the flute for my friends!

Acquiring wild dinosaurs is quite entertaining. You get a flute from a townsfolk early on. Each dinosaur has a song they sing, which is represented by four different colors. You need to match their song with your flute, both in color and tone. This can get tricky and takes some timing to get down with some of them, but I found it to be really unique. The dinosaurs are just precious, and you can play songs for them anytime once you befriend them. It was one of my favorite things about Paleo Pines.

As I mentioned before, opening up the next area is the main quest you will start with. There is a giant log that falls between the two zones, and you need to find the correct dinosaur for the job. This is the Styracosaurus, and you’ll have to be with this dinosaur for DAYS in-game before she trusts you enough to put a saddle on her. You can do mini quests in town to earn money and items, but I felt like I was stuck for longer than needed waiting for her friendship to grow. I took her everywhere with me, and maxed out all the things that made her happy each day, and it still took me almost 6 real life hours in game to get her there. To the point I emailed the devs to ask if something was broken, or if I missed anything. For what it’s worth, I did everything right, they just choose to make friendship ridiculously slow.

You are given a journal which tracks all of your adventures in Paleo Pines. When you discover something new, you pull your journal out to record the information. The journal is a fine tool for keeping everything in one place, but I would have liked to have seen a mini map, and a quest tracker off to the side of the actual screen. You have to continually open the journal and then flip to the quest page to see where you are at on a quest.

There is no quest tracker, nor are there indications in the world when you come across a quest item. Little quality of life things like that tend to go a long way with players, and it’s just missing in Paleo Pines. But the biggest QoL pain for me was not being able to split stacks of items.

I love that you can ride most of your dinos!

I eventually got my friendship level with my Styracosaurus high enough to equip her with a saddle and open up the Dapplewood zone. While this did open up more things to explore, I ran into the same problem again with the next major part of the quest. It all revolves around friendship with your dinosaur and their energy supply for doing tasks based on their level. While I know this is a game about dinosaurs, I feel like the focus should be more on just befriending and having fun with your dinosaurs than being gated behind really boring quests. Often I felt like I was just skipping time to the next day, doing only my basic farm chores to get things over with and see if my friendship had gone up.

You do open up bonuses with townsfolk, who give you discounts on merchandise and offer up new items as time goes on. Orani can increase your bag space, residents upgrade your “house” so you can change your wardrobe there instead of in town, and Astel will offer to paint your house for a ridiculous amount of shells. I also did not know you can put in custom orders for your ranch items with Mario until way later in the game.

I’d like to see this game succeed, but in its current state there isn’t enough interest on my end to see how the story plays out. There isn’t enough to do. I’d love to see holiday events and special content. Make it a constant, evolving world.

Holly Hudspeth is a best-selling author living in Fort Worth, Texas. She has six published novels to date; The Skyy Huntington Series, which is an epic dark fantasy adventure, and One Small Detail, a stand-alone medieval fantasy. Holly also enjoys writing fan fiction based on her avatars from games such as EverQuest, Elder Scrolls Online, and World of Warcraft. Her first major purchase at the established age of nine was the NES, and she has been gaming ever since. She enjoys fantasy games, city builders, RPGs, MMOs, SMITE, and The Sims franchise. Most nights she is in SMITE with her husband and friends, or playing ESO. When she isn't gaming, she is probably either at Disney or planning her next trip there.



Paleo Pines

Review Guidelines

Overall I felt disappointed in Paleo Pines. The world is bright, colorful, and fun to be in. The dinosaurs are truly adorable. Playing the flute to learn their song to befriend them is a very unique experience. But the rest of the execution is just mediocre at best. Forgettable quests, roadblocks on things that just aren’t fun, cost of supplies is too high, and the fact we can’t even go into our house is a real bummer. The quality of life things that we all basically expect in games these days just aren’t there. I’d love to see some changes made to the game. I honestly really did try to get into Paleo Pines because the visuals are adorable, but at the end of it all, I was left incredibly bored and lost interest.

Holly Hudspeth

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

See below for our list of partners and affiliates:

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now

Buy Now


To Top