DogDay

Review by MrLipid
September 2003

Note: This review contains some spoilers. Proceed with caution.

Tell Me a Story ...

I happen to think that a good adventure game tells a good story. A good adventure game story should provide players with some idea of what it is that they are trying to do and back that up with the feeling that what they are trying to do really matters. Can you fulfill your mission in Titanic: Adventure out of Time? Can you discover your identity as you recover your humanity in Bad Mojo? Can you make your way back to the physical world in Amber: Journeys Beyond? If there is no sense of urgency, no sense that the quest matters, the game is over before the opening titles end.

And Make it a Good Story!

Since the opening titles in DogDay last mere seconds, the game is over pretty quickly. Why? There is no sense of urgency in DogDay. And that lack of urgency reflects the failure of the game to tell its own story. Instead, DogDay relies on its manual to set up the story and fill in most of the details.

It is only from the manual that you learn the following:

"Your objective is to make contact with CATS (Coalition Against Totalitarian Society) and provide them with the means to expose the true nature of government activities. You must then flee the city to avoid sharing the fate of so many brave dissidents before you."

Put another way, you need to find and steal some information to sell to CATS in order to earn enough to buy a ticket out of the miserable place you find yourself in. No sticking around and fighting the good fight for you. All you're up for is cashing in and bailing out.

While not exactly noble, the quest could have been fun if, as in, say, Noir: A Shadowy Thriller, there were actual clues to sift and folks to interview or eavesdrop on. No such luck. Scraps of newspaper here and there provide the only clues on offer. And no one says a word.

If You Can't Make it Good, Make it Short ...

In case you fail to look in the right garbage can, here is all the game itself tells you about your quest:

BLAB
Newspaper of the Coalition Against Totalitarian Society
Loose Lips Sink Chips

The latest attempt to silence ex-Sectionary Daily investigative reporter Hugo "Chips" Chompsky by Chegga heavies has been unsuccessful. Mr. Chompsky was lucky enough to escape torture at the Pound early yesterday morning and flee the section via the underground rail system, leaving behind him a substantial amount of information of the inner workings of Chegga's empire. Chompsky was under close surveillance whilst working at the Daily after he was discovered to be also working for this publication.

That's It?

Based on this single fragile bit of data, your mission appears to be to find the files that Chompsky left behind. This point is so subtle (vague?) that others who have written walkthroughs erroneously concluded that the rooms a player must break into belong to Chegga, the game's tyrannical unseen heavy, rather than Chompsky, the now-absent reporter. Hard to create much sense of drama in a story when this level of confusion over fundamental plot points is possible.

Leaving the story aside, which is pretty much what the developers did, DogDay was sold on the basis of its "real world" challenges. A player's "real life experience" and "common sense logic" were supposed to be all that would be needed to solve the game's "true to life" puzzles.

Really? (Spoiler Alert!)

Really.

I don't know about you, but I've never broken into a building by tossing myself into a newspaper vending machine. Nor have I escaped from a room by firing icicles at a balance scale in hopes of unhooking a ladder from the ceiling. For that matter, I've never crossed a street by jumping up and down on a canopy nor owned a sofa that provided access to the city sewers ... though during my college days I had a sofa that smelled like it might provide such access.

No Spoilers Beyond this Point

Goofy puzzles can, of course, be fun. After all, it's a game, right? Sadly, the goofy puzzles have been bookended by two classic Short Game Helpers™: a trio of arcade sequences and an interminable, unforgivable maze. Pull out the twitching and the slogging and the game slims down dramatically. And makes one wish there had been more to it like what remains.

Every Dog Has Its, Well, You Know ...

Visually, DogDay is pretty impressive, even by today's standards. Prerendered animations create the illusion that one is moving through a seamless three-dimensional world. Inventory item animations work well. The sparing use of music and sound effects contributes to an ominous and oppressive mood.

As good as the good parts of DogDay are, there aren't enough of them. And there are more than a few bad parts. For that reason I'm going to suggest a split rating of Pretty Good for what's good and Rotten Egg for what isn't, which amounts to the middling rating that DogDay deserves. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Eyst Pty Ltd.
Publisher: Impact Interactive Publishing Pty Ltd.
Released: 1997

Available for: Windows

Four Fat Chicks Links

Walkthrough
Player Feedback

Screenshots

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System Requirements

IBM PC or 100% compatible
486DX/2 66MHz processor or higher (Pentium recommended)
8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended)
Windows 95
Super VGA Graphics card (640×480×256 colors) or better
Windows 95 compatible sound card
CD-ROM drive (4X or faster recommended)
Windows 95 compatible mouse or pointing device

Where to Find It



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