The Mammoth: Free Game From Former Spec Ops Devs


We all have different ways of dealing with loss. Some of us lash out and hurt others while some of us turn inwards and dwell on that pain. The Mammoth: A Cave Painting [official site] is a free game about loss and how we choose to overcome it.

The Mammoth is the brainchild of several former Yager developers. The team helped birth Spec Ops: The Line before being set to task on the now-canceled Dead Island 2. Tired of seeing their projects canceled or watered down to suit a bottom line, the group wanted to make something on their own, something personal. Together, they founded a new studio, Inbetween Games.

In a chat with Leigh Alexander at Offworld, designer Jan David Hassel said that when the call came in that Dead Island 2 would be delayed indefinitely, “It didn’t take us long to realize that most of us would be fired.” Their response was to make a game “about the inescapability of loss.”

I played the game for a bit today, and going into the game knowing that it was about the grief of its team left me with an uncomfortably personal message.

The Mammoth requires you to protect several baby mammoths from the spears of human hunters. As the people swarmed endlessly around me, my children died. One by one. With nothing left to live for, I tried to run. I tried to find someplace new away from the murderous people.

In a way, that seems like what the folks at Inbetween have done by going indie. You can download The Mammoth from its Itch page.


  1. Oridan says:

    Looks really similar to that one scene in the first Ice Age movie.

    • Janichsan says:

      Yup, not only from the visual style, but also from the topic.

  2. Spuzzell says:

    That’s really rather affecting.

  3. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Wait… Dead Island 2 was cancelled?

  4. Sam says:

    From playing it I feel it’s more about revenge than loss. (I guess spoilers follow.)

    Being a heartless wretch I didn’t build much attachment to the children that I had following me for ~30 seconds. No bond was built through mechanics apart from needing to walk left for a bit to bump into them. So I didn’t feel any sadness when they were killed beyond what I’d feel from watching a similarly simple (and non-interactive) animation. But I did smash up all the hunters’ houses as a petty act of revenge. Which is what makes me feel that if the game is about anything, it’s about that petty revenge and it’s futility. As a player I felt that I was part of the revenge act, whereas the loss was just an event that inevitably happened.

    Awful tech snobbishness: 202MB and Unreal Engine running at a blistering 15FPS (on a non-gaming computer) a bit horrifying. It could comfortably exist as a HTML5 or Flash experience with no loss of fidelity, and a significant increase in how many people would overcome entry friction and play it.

  5. manny says:

    lol, very funny title rps, I thought this was going to be a gritty mammoth hunting simulator by developer madeup of former spec ops troops.

    What I got was a lesson on life and death by cappuccino sipping liberal women. i’ll pass.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Liberal Women: The scourge of gamers everywhere.

      • Muzman says:

        I understand the desire to broaden the horizons of wisdom though. I even made a special effort to seek out a whiskey chugging conservative man to talk to about life and death.
        He called me a ‘faggot’ and something else I couldn’t understand. When I asked what it was, he tried to stab me without getting off his bar stool. Then he broke down in tears and fell asleep.

        Truly I have never felt such profound connection to the mysteries of the universe.

  6. Oranje says:

    This game was actually first made for the most recent Ludum Dare, where the theme was ‘You are the monster.’ I played it during the competition and was impressed by the completeness of its story. Believe it rated pretty highly as well.