Dinosaurs and Cyberpunk Combine in Delightful Dynopunk Adventure

Reviewed On
Steam (PC)
Available For

There’s an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, “Distant Origin,” in which Voyager’s crew encounters the Voth, a species descended from Terran dinosaurs. While the Voth refused to acknowledge the Earth as their distant origin, the episode gives us a good look into their culture and world, showing us what space-faring dinosaurs might look like in the far-flung future.

Admittedly, Dynopunk is, as the name suggests, less Star Trek and more Cyberpunk 2077. Well, perhaps calling it Cyberpunk 1983 might be a touch closer to the game’s aesthetic. Amid its neon colors and pixelated art, Dynopunk tells a story of isolation, loss, and a strange sort of hope with oddly compelling characters interspersed with management-style minigames. I guarantee that whatever you thought Dynopunk was going to be, you’re going to find a surprise or two.

Plot Ahoy!

You play Chris, the last remaining T-rex on Earth, who has moved to the megalopolis Synth City to open his own repair shop. There, with the help of a snarky and demanding AI-controlled 3D printer, a few friends, and some mini-game based ingenuity, Chris plans to be the greatest engineer Synth City has ever seen. He gets to build a community among his Saurian friends via the smart use of dialogue options, and where that fails, offering them a good old-fashioned beverage.

Keeping your customers happy with you isn’t just a question of securing return customers, either. You charge based on their happiness with your services, so if you flub a repair (which can and will happen), you won’t get paid. If Chris doesn’t get paid, then he can’t continue contributing to his time machine fund.

Oh, wait, I forgot to mention that. Chris happens to be very, very tired of being the only remaining T-Rex on the planet. He purchased this particular repair shop because the original owner had been working on a time machine, and Chris fully intends on building upon the older dinosaur’s work. In addition to wanting to save his subspecies, Chris also wants to go back in time to save his girlfriend, who perished in a tragic accident. He blames himself for that accident, of course, so rather than cope with his loss and move past it, he’s just going to go back in time and fix it because he thinks that’s the rational thing to do.

Review Notes

As you may have gathered from the plot summary, Dynopunk is very much a story-driven title. I’d even go so far as to call it a variant on the visual novel because the story really is the point. However, unlike a true visual novel, Dynopunk requires you to play actual mini-games in order to generate income that you can invest in Chris’s repair shop. The big one involves cutting microchips that you’ll use as parts to repair various gadgets. The first item you repair happens to be the shop’s speakers, and your cranky AI walks you through the process. Please note, the AI will grade you on the accuracy of your cuts, and he isn’t particularly shy about letting you know when you’ve done a poor job of it. Other mini-games involve removing broken parts and swapping in spare parts to complete your repairs. Each of the mini-games makes sense in context and is well designed, and Dynopunk offers enough variety that they don’t become tedious or all that repetitive.

Dynopunk also supplements the visual novel aspect with a motley crew of characters that are surprisingly well-developed. They range from your friend Justin to a mob boss, and each one of these characters adds depth to the bizarrely compelling world of Dynopunk. Each in-game day sees you interacting with three of these characters, so it’s a good thing that Dynopunk’s cast is extensive. That said, you do get to know these characters as they become repeat customers. Then, Chris has his own emotional life. At the end of every day, he retires to his room to reflect on his experiences. During this time, you can purchase upgrades for the room or the time machine and even check in on an online forum, which provides useful insights into time travel, actually contributing to Chris’s quest to build that time machine.

What’s great about Dynopunk is that your decisions matter. How you speak to these characters impacts the story in very real ways, unlike some other visual novels. You get to decide if you help Justin with his new dream to become a writer or if you help Chris come to terms with his losses, and those choices determine which of the title’s multiple endings you get.

Dynopunk’s visuals concentrate on a pixelated style that manages to feel both retro and futuristic all at once, which is in keeping with the cyberpunk theme. Music becomes incredibly important both as a background effect but also as a story element. Some of your customers will provide additional tracks to your phone’s playlist based on their own lives. There’s a rockstar who will share tracks his band has created, but other customers will offer these little music upgrades as well. Even without these additions, Chris’s playlist is pretty extensive, more so than I expected it would be. As a player, you have some control over it, which yields a greater sense of immersion.

Dynopunk is a pretty fun title. This isn’t to say that it is flawless. I got a bit tired of the T-Rex arms jokes, and some of the jokes are very much low-hanging fruit. While there are a few bugs, they’re really pretty insignificant. The biggest problem is that because Dynopunk combines two genres into a hybrid, you do get some story pacing issues. There are moments when you really sort of wonder why Dynopunk hasn’t ended yet, but then the story provides yet another twist to reel you back in.


Dynopunk is not a title I would have expected, but I’m very much glad I got to dip my toes into the world created by Tomato Fantasy Games. While I do think the story bogs down in a few places, the character driven narrative explores enough interesting themes to more than make up for any issues with the storytelling itself.

The full version of Dynopunk retails on Steam for $11.24, but you can play an in-game week for free in Dynopunk: Welcome to Synth-City to give you a sense of Dynopunk’s world.

Stray Thoughts From Behind the Keyboard

  1. I really love the dinosaur claw cursor.
  2. The effects as you garner rapport with your clients get kind of wild.
  3. The spare parts bucket can be a little buggy, so watch out for it.
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