Review by MrLipid
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
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
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
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:
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.
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!)
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.