London Games Festival 2021 preview: Theropods

Latest 7 Apr 2021

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Drawing of Ell Twine, member of Film London's Equal Access Network

Ell Twine, member of Film London's Equal Access Network

Ell, a member of Film London's Equal Access Network, previewed Theropods as part of the London Games Festival 2021. Here they share their reflections on the game.

Over five years in the making, Theropods is an upcoming old school point and click adventure game by Lost Token. Tinystuffz and Kostas, the creators of the game started as two animation students with a passion for the genre but no experience in game development so the pair sought the help of developers to get the game off the ground. After several false starts, the duo found it hard to get developers that would stay committed to the project. Tinystuffz then decided that they would instead learn to build the game in adventure game studio themselves.

With their background in art and animation, the two put together a trailer for the game to showcase their overall intention with the project and since then, they have been working to match the promise of that original trailer. With the trailer delivering a promising, cinematic story driven adventure with no dialogue, the pair then released a demo that helped highlight their understanding of the point and click era of video games.

Still of Theropods, pixel generated cavewoman and dinosaur

Theropods, courtesy of Lost Token Ltd

Starting as a young cave woman seeking to make her mark, the demo is focused entirely on a single, multifaceted puzzle that has you trying to capture and kill a dinosaur. Good use of a four-screen environment puts the focus on learning the patterns of your fellow hunters to figure out how everything can piece together for the final capture. A great mix of interactable environmental objects and the ability to influence and guide the path of your hunter friends shows that Tinystuffz and Kostas have a great understanding of the genre. Memorable of the goat puzzle from Broken Sword, your goal is to build a pathway that pushes the dinosaur towards a trap. Both the pieces of the trap and the hunters you guide to lead the dinosaur to the trap are laid out among each other, creating a nice blend of learning one thing while solving another. Theropods being built from the ground up with this sort of gameplay in mind means we do not fall into the trap of the goat puzzle problem Broken Sword left audiences with when first released. There is no improbable solution waiting to find here, the demo hands you all the knowledge of how to line everything up, leading to a satisfying conclusion.

The one downside of the demo would be the possible pixel hunting some players may encounter but every effort has been made to try and encourage the player towards what can be touched via in universe signals such as slight movement of a vine and light beams on a tree. If you’re an impatient gamer and don’t wait on one screen for long enough you may miss a hunter’s path back up a tree but as the demo is now around two years old, it’s clear from recent dev streams that the pair have refined their ability to guide an eye and their dedication to hints being told through visual storytelling enriches the world in a way that could subtract if any other method were to be enforced.

As the game continues to be built the team have shown off some great scenes in their streams that show they are nearing the point where the animated trailer and the game could be one and the same, making Theropods one of the most promising games to be seen at the London Games Festival for point and click adventure fans. Newcomers to the genre will be happy to know that the worrying pitfalls of the genre have been smoothed out by the creative implementation of the creator’s personal skillsets in animation and the silent protagonist with a focus on storytelling makes this a truly new adventure for the genre that excites me. We love the quips of George Stobart and Guybrush Threepwood and games like Machinarium may have explored a lack of dialogue before but here I am ready to see what next step can be explored in narrative storytelling with a team that knows the genre and knows their own strengths with a trailer and dev logs that have promised not only a fun throwback game but a potentially promising story to go with it.