While my knowledge of Australian fauna is limited, I’m quite sure that wombats are not close to six feet tall. This makes upcoming outback life sim Dinkum and its giant fuzzy pals objectively better than reality. Due in the first half of 2020, it looks like a hybrid of Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley (or Harvest Moon, for that matter) with a bit of kangaroo hunting and barbecuing. It’s the work of solo dev James Bendon, native to a quiet little corner of Australia and inspired by his travels around the vast deserts and bushlands of the country. There’s a debut trailer down under.
From the little shown so far, the key difference between Dinkum and its inspirations (Stardew and Animal Crossing) seems to be the location, and that makes a surprising difference. The Australian outback is full of animals that want to eat, bite or kick you with their horribly muscular legs. As such, there’s a bit of a survival aspect to the game, set amidst its procedurally generated world map. At least there’s always the chance to invite a friend for some online co-op, although there’s no mention of cannibalism as a last resort, which I am oddly disappointed by.
There’s a bit of a town management edge to the game. As you expand your little hamlet, individuals and even whole families will move in, and will start their own businesses. It takes a village to raise a town, as they don’t actually say. It’s interesting to see the game walking that fine line between cute and defiant in the face of an uncaring outback, but it’s a blend i could see working. If nothing else, I really like Dinkum’s autumnal look, with people casting long shadows across red dirt. Not a place I’d like to live for real, but then again, the real outback has no giant wombats.
Dinkum doesn’t have a release date yet, but publisher The Irregular Corporation reckons it should be by the second quarter of 2020. You can see a bit more of the game on its Steam page here.