Dog’s Life Review

A Video Game For Those Who Like It Doggy-Style

Dog's Life cover art
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Hip Interactive
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: September 09, 2004

Are you tired of having an upright humanoid protagonist to play as in your video games? Well Dog’s Life could be for you. In this game you play as a dog named Jake. You are on a search for your bitch, Daisy, who has been doggnapped by the dog catcher. You journey across various settings and meet many different individuals. This game isn’t the best game to come out, but it is an ok distraction.

The story of the game is pretty strait forward. You are a dog named Jake and Daisy, your girlfriend, has been kidnapped. You are on a journey to find her and get her back. During the course of the game the story gets a little deeper, and there are twists. At the end of the game, the ending is somewhat satisfying as it wraps everything up nicely, something I wish some movies these days did.

Gameplay is fairly simple. You guide Jake through various environments. There are 3 different “worlds” in the game with 5 various levels contained within them. The game plays a lot like Grand Theft Auto. No you can’t jack a car, but the environments are free roaming. There is a special smell-o-vision mode, where the game shifts from a third person perspective to a first person perspective. You can see various scents. Some scents indicate a person, some indicate other dogs or animals, some other scents indicate bones. Among those regular scents are colored scents. These colored scents lead you to a minigame of sorts. There are a few different colored scents and they are each a different minigame. One minigam has you urinating on corners in an attempt to capture territories, the one with the most territories wins. Another minigame is like the urinating one but instead you dig holes in a race to finish first. Speaking of racing there is a minigame where you are in race to consume as many dog treats as you can on your way to the finish line. Another minigame is a pursuit game that involves chasing another dog, once you touch the other dog, you win. There is a tug of war minigame. Basically it involves tapping the circle button repeatedly. The last of the minigames is a Simon says type of game. You just repeat the directions the dog tells. At the end of the minigame you learn a new begging maneuver. Like I mentioned previously, you collect bones. Completing minigames will earn you bones, other minigames will earn you control over another dog. Doing jobs for humans gives you bones. To complete some jobs for humans you must control another dog. Every breed of dog you control has different characteristics. Greyhounds are fast, Chihuahuas are small, you get the idea. While it seems there are a great variety of things to do in the game there really isn’t. You perform these minigames many times during the course of the game, and sometimes it becomes tedious. Jake can perform a variety of actions with a combination of button presses. He can sit, lay, and beg. If you beg to people they will give you food. You need food otherwise Jake will mope around. While this aspect sounds cool on paper it really becomes tedious. Towards the beginning Jake has no problems with food, but towards the end, food becomes scarce and Jake becomes slow. You will only get food from people if you are clean, and there are only beauty parlors in 3 places in the game. If you are unclean pedestrians will yell obscenities at you. They will call you “an ugly dog,” or tell you to, “get a job.” I for one think this is a pretty cruel part of the game. One of my favorite aspects of this game is that you can defecate on command. Not only that but you can pick it up in your mouth and throw it at people.

The controls are very simple. There is a button to bark and a button to jump and to pick things up. Controlling Jake is fairly easy, although his “handling” is a little loose. Also, sometimes the camera is not positioned in a very good way sometimes during some minigames (and cannot be repositioned) so that makes the controls not work so well. Also, when Jake is a confined space the cam era goes wacky and there can be some problems. The smell-o-vision controls well, but for some reason gave me horrible motion sickness.

The graphics are pretty average. Jake animates nicely, and there are some ok reflections on stuff. But most of everything is bland. The draw distance is pretty far, but the game cheats by blurring out stuff at a certain length. Cars have suspension, you can see them wobble back and forth after they slam on the brakes because you got in the way of one. The particle effects on the scents could be better seeing as this game is not taxing to the system at all. The graphics get the job done, but they could have done a lot more to wow me.

The sound is adequate. Like the graphics the sound gets the job done. The voice acting in the game is average, its not good, but its not bad either. There are 2 types of dog barks. One bark is for big dogs another for small dogs. The music in the game is very repetitive. I suppose the tracks aren’t very long because they repeat very often. There was one part of the game I truly enjoyed the music, it is one quest towards the middle of the game where you give some dude some wigs. If you play and get there you will know what I’m talking about. There is a re-occurring song that sounds similar to Sweet Home Alabama. I suppose the developer will be getting a call from Lynyrd Skynyrd sometime in the future. There are also parts of the game where the music cuts out completely for some reason or another. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t sound good when it does. As for Jake, he is stuck in the seventies. When you catch a whiff of a scent he will belt out some [Insert drug reference of your choice here], either that or he will make some poop joke. He lets out these “witty” one liners very often, and it is less and less funny each time they are heard.

At the end of the day Dog’s Life is a simple game. It is a bunch of minigames and fetch quests mashed together. There is a lot of repetition. This is a 20 dollar game however so you shouldn’t expect much, it is a good distraction if you want to kill some time but overall it is nothing you will be begging for. The back of the box boasts, “Over 40 hours of accessible play” I can tell you that you will beat it long before 40 hours (that is if you choose to beat it).

3.5 Star rating

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