Prehistoric survive-'em-up The Stomping Land proposes an exceedingly fascinating, nuanced thesis: dinosaurs were really mean. Contrary to commonly held modern beliefs, they were neither purple nor prone to incessant sing-alongs, instead opting to pretty much just eat things and kill each other. Introduce a few succulent humans into the mix (note: this is something else that probably never happened), and you've got a recipe for a belly-bulging feast - not a fight. Stomping Land's solution? Craftiness. Build shelters, mount the heads of slain foes on sticks, erect mystical totems that make your tribe stronger for some reason. Maybe the dinosaurs get jealous because they too are craftsmen at heart, but their colossal claws - rattling with death and inevitability - can only destroy. What a sad fate that would be. There's a video of Stomping Land's survival elements after the break. Watch for single, lonesome dinosaur tears.
Early graphics aside, it's looking really impressive! Setting up a campground might not be the most exciting thing ever, but I like all the little details - from berry-based body paint to warding off foes with their own kind's remains. It's a hostile eat-and-be-eaten-anyway world, a playable postcard from a time when carnivorous lizards were bigger than they have any right to be. And also there weren't postcards yet.
But if you ask me, multiple-stories-tall totems communicate just as quickly and effectively as any postcard. Stomping Land's creators explained their role in the game:
"The totem is the tribe's icon of power, it starts at zero and is upgraded by sacrificing dinosaur meat to the totem. Each totem tier gives the tribe increased abilities. There can only be one totem per tribe (if there are 3 players in a server, and they each make a totem, they establish 3 separate tribes). The totem creator is considered the leader of the tribe, and invites other hunters into his tribe through their teepee. Each totem tier requires larger amounts of meat and from more difficult dinosaurs. Every time a hunter dies, an entire tier from his tribe's totem is lost. So only keep the best hunters."
So basically, totems represent stats and status. It's definitely an interesting combination of setting, social functionality, and game mechanics. Color me interested.
The Stomping Land is currently on Kickstarter, and it's already stomped miles past its initial goal. It's still got another week left before time runs out, though, so there's still time to chip in if you're feeling so inclined. And hey, it's even for a good cause: a dinosaur game that actually, finally, mercifully looks pretty good. Be still, my freshly thawed caveman heart.