Even looking at its thumbnail in Google Play Store, there’s a connection to be made between The Mammoth: A Cave Painting and that lovely scene in Ice Age. The entire game takes place on the wall of a cave, as you control a female Mammoth, in search of her lost calf. Settings are somewhat bare, never comprising more than a few trees or rocks as you lead your baby across the planes detailed on the cave walls.
Needless to say, everything is hand drawn, and with the delightfully minimalist scratchiness that surfaced in Ice Age. As you walk the forests using the touchscreen, you’ll need to protect your baby from the hunters that continue to ambush you throughout your journey; with often painful results as you attempt to shield little mammoth from showers of arrows. The sound is by no means elaborate, but hearing the mother’s strained cries against a straightforward bongo track is nevertheless effective in effecting the brutality of the hunt, at the expense of a compassionate, reciprocal herd. Your journey throughout the uncertain wilds is accompanied by a well-voiced narrator, which is the only thing I felt may have been better left out. The power of The Mammoth lay in its visual storytelling; the scant animal effects and cave drawings already worked to develop a meaningful narrative around family, and vocal clarification feels somewhat unnecessary in a story that uses the form of cave painting.
The Mammoth is one of the better narrative-driven games on mobile systems and makes an engrossing time if you’re a fan of family themes, or if (like me) you were quite taken with Manny’s hand-drawn backstory.