Dynopunk demo preview Tomato Fantasy Games 101XP great narrative microgames

Dynopunk seems tailor-made to appeal to me. It’s got dinosaurs, a neon-drenched cyberpunk city, a trip hop-inspired, synth-heavy soundtrack, and microgames. In the 30 minutes it took to complete the Dynopunk demo available for preview at Steam Next Fest, I played a nice variety of microgames that all blended seamlessly into my character’s actions and interactions with the dinosaurs coming into his electronics repair shop.

Microgames ranged from tracing an outline to 3D-print the right microchip to picking and pouring the most appropriate drink for a customer. The microgames start simple, but even in my short time, it showed how they can become more challenging. When tracing a microchip, the power flickered, dimming the lights and forcing me to trace faster or complete it in the dark. When repairing electronics, there’s a note with some reminders, specifications, and an order of operations you need to follow to do the job correctly. This small number of contextual instructions reminded me of the complications introduced when checking passports in Papers, Please. Escalations and complications like these show the devs can keep even simple tasks exciting, and they make me hopeful it will continue to expand in the final game.

Dynopunk demo preview Tomato Fantasy Games 101XP great narrative microgames

The microgames come in low-stakes varieties as well, such as opening a delivery box. I don’t think there was a way to fail at that. While it’s a simple thing, having a range of actions beyond just clicking next for more dialogue kept me engaged. It also reinforces what the character can do, so if a microgame with a similar task appears later, I already know how to do it.

But the whole demo isn’t just microgames like in WarioWare. More than half of the demo is dialogue. As a small-town dinosaur living your dream and opening an electronics repair shop in a big city — Synth City to be precise — there are social interactions as well. Things like whether or not to answer a call from your parents on the phone, sticking your neck out to help a friend by lying to his boss, and treating customers properly were all scenarios I faced. This part includes making dialogue choices that can affect the mood of the person you’re talking to. It’s important to make folks happy since they pay you what they think your service is worth. So if they are dissatisfied with your work or aren’t happy with something you said, you won’t make as much money. This adds weight to both your performance in the microgames and the dialogue choices.

Dynopunk demo preview Tomato Fantasy Games 101XP great narrative microgames

What you can buy with the money you earn in the demo is limited, but it’s a nice gateway into what the full game could offer. You can use your money to improve your living conditions, such as getting better blinds, fixing your damaged walls, or buying a lava lamp. They don’t have any direct impact on the demo experience, but I’m a sucker for customizing a living space. And I hope the look of the shop and his room can work to influence the attitude of customers and the main character, making neglect a detriment to progress.

While not present in the demo, the game description talks about how your actions will have a long-term influence on the characters you interact with. The mood customers leave your shop in is supposed to influence not only their lives but how they affect the city.

Dynopunk nails what a demo should be. It introduces the core concepts of the game in simple terms, shows how they can escalate to keep it engaging over time, and wraps the gameplay in a story that introduces threads that feel worthy of exploration. While I know not everyone will have the trifecta of microgames, dinosaurs, and a moody soundtrack that had me ready to give this game a try, the Dynopunk demo showcases that it has the potential to be so much more than a great concept.

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