While I feel that I've largely outgrown my childhood adoration of all things dinosaur-related (up to and including excavating ancient bone records), watching the trailer for Fossil Hunters made me squeal a little with joy, as my inner child bounced furiously off the walls of my cold and hollow adult soul.
Originally crowdfunded on Kickstarter and refined through a stint in Early Access, the final version of Reptoid Games' cooperative game of fossil excavation and assembly is out now, and looks quite utterly charming, so far as I'm concerned.
Fossil Hunters is quite obviously aimed at kids, and that's okay. Across 30+ levels, up to four players hop, skip and jump around dangers in order to dig through stone in search of fossil fragments. Each fragment has several attachment points, and - once dusted off - can either be connected to other arbitrary fossil pieces, or placed in a pre-set template to begin construction on a larger skeleton. Bigger templates or improbable-looking freeform skeletons give you a higher score at the end of the level.
While there seems to be no combat, per se, there are antagonistic forces down in the depths, and you'll need to cover your camp with lights to ward off giant subterranean bugs or they'll go and mess up your perfectly arranged fossil records. There are other environmental hazards to deal with as well, like water (don't drop your fossils in there), lava pits and earthquakes.
Despite the finite number of levels, there are apparently random elements to each meaning that replay value is respectable. While the game can be played solo, it seems built with co-op in mind, albeit local-only. While I've yet to get my hands on this one yet, the Steam reviews all seem near-unanimous in their agreement that this is a proper 'all ages' game that should be fun for just about anyone, although perhaps not quite the most intense of challenge for more experienced gamers.
Fossil Hunters is out now on Steam for £11/$15, minus the usual 10% launch discount.