Review: Dynopunk – My Tiny Arms Will Never Stop Me!

Imagine being the last of your species, living with the guilt of your girlfriend’s death and willing to do anything to bring her back, even if it means risking your own life. Now also imagine having tiny arms.

Dynopunk, from Tomato Fantasy Games, is an ironic visual novel with vibrant cyberpunk aesthetics and a cheeky sense of humour. The game is set in an alternate universe where dinosaurs never became extinct and primates never evolved into humans, leading to several jokes about the foolishness of apes and how they are far more stupid than dinosaur-kind.

The contract for Chris' new repair shop
The contract for Chris’ new repair shop

The story follows Chris, the last T-Rex, as he moves to the city to take over a repair shop. Here he encounters a talking microchip printer who hints at evil experiments that the previous owner was a part of – experiments related to time machine blueprints found in the shop.

The main mechanics of Dynopunk are not too different from those found in standard visual novels. As players move through the story, they meet new and interesting dino characters whom they can befriend, measuring their new emotions by checking the mood tracker in the bottom corner. From a quirky scientist obsessed with primates, to a rockstar, a delinquent and a mob boss, there is a huge range of unique people to meet, which really adds to the world-building.

Roy asking for a repair in the shop
Roy, CEO of a megacorp, asking for a repair in the shop

There are a few different ways to improve the moods of Chris’ new dino friends. The first method is the classic visual novel staple: dialogue choices. Throughout each interaction, players face several different dialogue choices that can positively or negatively influence a character’s mood. There is also often the opportunity to make up for bad dialogue decisions by offering the customer a drink. This mechanic is really interesting and, as someone who generally struggles to recognise emotion, helped me to figure out what kind of responses different dinosaurs responded well to.

There are several endings to Dynopunk based on the decisions players make and the friendships they build along the way. These different endings are revealed at the end of the game as a series of polaroids, with more unlocking with each playthrough. I loved this round-up of the different characters and what happened to them at the end of the story.

Justin talking about the engineering festival
Justin talking about the science festival

The characterisation is done incredibly well throughout Dynopunk. Each person feels unique and has their own traits and flaws. I also found myself changing my opinion of some characters as the game progressed and I learned more about their background and why they act the way they do. It was also nice to directly see how the way you choose to treat different dinosaurs can impact them and their lives. In my playthrough, two people who I befriended started dating, despite their differences, one character got to live out their wildest dream and another met their hero.

The most unique aspect of Dynopunk is the repair mini-games which consist of either cutting out a microchip or replacing broken parts. The games themselves aren’t complicated, consisting of tracing a shape or remembering the order of parts you remove, however, powercuts, damaged materials and an angry printer add an element of challenge to the task. After competing in a science festival to raise more funds for the time machine, players also unlock the ability to design items according to the preferences of the client. You start with cool and cute design packs, however can purchase two additional packs through the shopping app at the end of the day. Successfully completing repairs and decorating items to the customer’s liking will earn players money which can be spent on home furnishings for Chris’ tiny apartment, shop repairs and decorations, new drinks for customers and more. Crucially, this money is needed to buy time machine parts.

Cutting out a microchip to complete repairs
Cutting out a microchip to complete repairs

One of my favourite parts of Dynopunk is the music, which can be controlled using a mobile phone on the counter in the repair shop. As you progress the story, some characters will give you music that relates to their personality. The rockstar will give you some of his band’s songs and the researcher provided my personal favourite songs on the soundtrack: some LoFi beats which reference the online LoFi Girl account. There is a huge range of song selection, removing the usual irritation that can come eight hours into hearing the same music on a loop and all of the songs I listened to were unique and fun to listen to.

If I’m being very honest, there came a point at about six hours into the game, where I was ready for it to be over. There is a conclusion, but then after steeling yourself for the end of the game it just carries on, introducing new characters and plot twists. I don’t think I would have minded this as much as I did if it hadn’t come after the emotional farewells, but it made me feel like the story I had come to care about was over.

The in-game music player
The in-game music player

Dynopunk is a really fun and creative story with emotional and heartfelt elements. It is exceptionally well written, the characters act in accordance with their personalities and the mechanics are fun to play around with. It is definitely one of the more fun and unique visual novels I have played recently.

Megan played Dynopunk on PC with a review key.

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