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Exclusive Interview

Son and Bone

Dinosaur, meet shotgun
by Wesley LeBlanc on Mar 08, 2024 at 08:00 AM

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Platform PlayStation 5
Publisher TeamKill Media
Developer TeamKill Media
Release 2024
Rating Mature

Sometimes, a great idea can come from a simple premise. That’s how Son and Bone, the next game from TeamKill Media, the studio behind last year’s Quantum Error, came to be: a first-person shooter where you kill dinosaurs. Inspired by the dormant Turok series, TeamKill’s lead developer Micah Jones remarks about a joke the studio’s fans have made since the reveal of its dinosaur shooter at the top of the year. “They say, ‘If other game companies won’t do it, these developers will,’” Jones says, explaining that everyone on the team is a big fan of the Turok series.

After watching roughly 10 minutes of new Son and Bone gameplay, the Turok inspiration is clear, but so are its fast-paced arcade roots. “We like tactical, realistic stuff, but in this scenario, we were definitely seeking to be what you’d call a boomer shooter today, something more arcade-y and focused on chaotic gameplay.” That’s why I saw the kind of stuff the Doom series popularized: floating neon ammo and weapon pickups, gory execution kills activated by clicking R3 when an enemy flashes orange, the kind of movement that feels as if your field-of-view is cranked high, and plenty of blood. In a game where the premise is about killing dinosaurs, the boomer shooter gameplay feels like a perfect fit.

At the start of the game, Sheriff Samson is protecting a small town, but some bad things happen: bandits kill some people and take others hostage, and he goes after them. What transpires afterward involves aliens, their survival gauntlet featuring dinosaurs, other humans, and more created to see which DNA to use to create the perfect life form, and different worlds and timelines. Samson is modified with dinosaur DNA, which is why he has super strength and other inhuman abilities, and cares less about surviving this alien gauntlet and more about returning to Earth safely with the kidnapped people.

Jones says players can expect to fight mostly dinosaurs, but there are also human enemies, human-hybrid-dinosaur foes, and more. In my preview, I saw hostile alligators, snakes, raptors, and a passive brachiosaurus (that will turn hostile if you attack it). Players can expect t-rex enemies and other dinosaur classics like the spitting dilophosaurus that paints the screen with black effects and the spiky ankylosaurus. Players will have to handle Turok-style platforming over wooden docks, rocks jutting out of the ground, traps, and more. A laser lasso that acts as a grappling hook aims to make movement even more dynamic in combat and when platforming.

Son and Bone, like TeamKill’s other games, is visually impressive, and Jones says the team aims to look triple-A in that regard. But he also notes that as a team of four based in Montana – TeamKill was started in 2016 by four Jones brothers and remains that today – sometimes that can backfire. At an indie scale, mechanically, it’s hard to compete with multimillion-dollar first-person shooters like Call of Duty and Doom.

“We like the challenge, but it is hard, and we can’t do everything a big company can do,” Jones says, explaining how TeamKill’s visual style also ends up getting its games lumped into comparisons with triple-A releases. “We’re definitely going to try to meet that level every time, even if we’re small. Since [Son and Bone] is a smaller, more focused game, it should be easier to deliver a very polished triple-A quality of feel and gameplay since it won’t have all these massively complicated mechanics.

“It’s all a learning experience, and I like to look towards triple-A as a goal. If we fall short, we’re small and we learn from that.”

The dinosaur shooting will hopefully continue sooner rather than later as TeamKill is targeting a summer or fall release window for Son and Bone.

This article originally appeared in Issue 364 of Game Informer.

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Son and Bone

PlayStation 5
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