From Canned Meat studios comes a touching tale of a boy and his beloved pet dinosaur. As Hunter, you attempt to escape deadly creatures, get past tricky landscapes and keep both you and your best friend in tiptop shape. Your goal is to find your way to paradise, away from those who wish to harm or experiment on your dinosaur. With a labyrinth of obstacles, curious switches and even red, hot lava, it's definitely not going to be an easy road. Throw a bone and your dinosaur pal will follow you anywhere. You've got quite a few challenges to overcome, but hey, at least you won't face them alone.
Developed by Canned Meat Studios, Me and My Dinosaur tells the story of a lonely boy and the friend he finds in the most unlikely of places. Although it is essentially a puzzle platformer, the game does put great emphasis on its narrative aspect, offering tidbits of the story as rewards for progressing through the levels. Just like Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, the struggles and triumphs of the two protagonists reflect their friendship. Their touching tale gets increasingly interesting as they attempt to escape both residents and scientists who are out to kill or experiment on the boy's beloved pet.
A Touching Tale
Hunter's (a.k.a. your) story starts when your parents move to a place called Commonsville. As its name suggests, nothing exciting happens there so, leaving your old friends behind and being the new kid in town, you've been feeling quite lonely. What's worse is that your mom is always busy cleaning and doing housework and your dad is always away on business trips. Talk about depressing. Anyway, one of the ways you've found to keep yourself entertained is by playing in the woods. One day, you come across a peculiar, spotted egg. On a whim, you take it home and, surprise, surprise, it ends up hatching on the way.
Your new pet, it turns out, is a large lizard -- a dinosaur, hence the game's title. You are given the option to name it, although the default name for your new best friend is ""Rex"". Oddly enough, your parents mistake the dinosaur for a strange-looking dog. Time passes and your bond with it only gets stronger. It also keeps growing and it gets to a point where your dino pal gets too big for your parents to tolerate. They want Rex out of the house. Unfortunately, keeping him out in the backyard isn't an option either. The residents of Commonsville, aside from being boring, also happen to be mean folk. They want Rex to either be killed or experimented in for science. Well, you're not going to stand for that, are you? You leave home without a second thought. Your goal is to find a place where your best friend can live in peace and to be safe forever.
Give the Dino a Bone
Although it isn't the first time we've come across such an unusual pair, it's hard to deny the charm of stories like these and they offer much relief from the more aggressive and ferocious dinosaur titles easily viewable at Dinosauria. There's Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, or even Mario and Yoshi. It doesn't matter what medium is used to convey the message. When it comes to tales of friendship, something just manages to tug at the heart strings. A predictable, though original story written by Canned Meat Studios, Me and My Dinosaur is no exception. Displaying a few lines of narrative every few steps, you are slowly introduced to the game mechanics and the result of Hunter and Rex's adventure. That being said, we do love the steady pace of the delivery. With this, every tidbit of progress feels rewarding. It also gives that added motivation to get past trickier puzzles as you eagerly anticipate what happens next.
As for the controls, well they're kept simple enough even for very young players to grasp. Different keys control either Rex or Hunter. The W, A and D keys, for instance, moves Hunter while clicking on a spot on the screen produces a bone that calls Rex's attention. He will then move towards that direction until he can get his claws on his treat. If he comes across an obstacle that blocks his way, he will still keep marching. In cases where his thundering steps are getting too noisy, you might want to press L to retry the level.
An Adventure to Remember
Lava, waterfalls, vicious dogs, you name it, Hunter and Rex will fearlessly face them just to reach paradise. Does it truly exist? You'll have to reach the ending to find out. Whatever the outcome though, the old adage "the journey is more important than the destination" truly applies here. The puzzles are tricky enough to keep your attention but they're not impossible to warrant giving up. Once you've beaten a level, it opens up in the level select screen so you can take as many breaks as you want before going back to overcome a particular obstacle. The level select screen also happens to be the place you go to if you want to change Rex's name.
Just like its story, the graphics are kept simple yet charming. Innocent-looking Rex is as huggable as dinosaurs can be and your avatar's blank expression suits the mood of the narrative. With their straight lines and clean patterns, the environments are cartoony but modern. Perhaps the only issue we had with the game is with the controls. More often than not, you'll end up restarting a level because Rex missed a simple jump. That's not enough to keep us from playing and replaying Me and My Dinosaur though. It takes a bit of patience but it's a well-made indie game nonetheless.