Dog Duty ( Zanardi and Liza)
Who are you going to call when the evil Octopus Commander and his army are threatening world-pace? Turns out it’s not a marine biologist like we thought, but actually a squad of misfits! In Dog Duty, by Zanardi and Liza, you are given control of this squad of misfits and tasked with taking down the well-armed octo-scum.
The game opens with your squad losing their helicopter and getting themselves caught by the bad guys, so your first mission is to escape. After freeing yourself, it is then time to liberate all the other enemy-controlled outposts while freeing the rest of your team in the process. You can have up to three members in your squad and they all have their own specialties. Although your primary objective is to overthrown Octopus Commander, you will want to weaken his weapon and armor depots along the way and destroy the three bosses that stand in your way.
While Dog Duty is still in Early Access the version of the game that we played feels very complete already. It plays in real-time and your squad members automatically open fire on any enemies that they spot. This means that there is no sneaking around and picking off enemies one by one using stealth in this game. In fact, liberating enemy outposts comes with the extra pressure of reinforcements constantly showing up, which often means having to fight enemies from both fronts until you manage to destroy certain objectives. It makes things very challenging, but there are strategies that you can use to make your life a little easier. Until we figured out how to prevent our squad from being constantly overrun and outgunned the game was a little frustrating, but it did become more fun the more time we spent with it.
Visually Dog Duty has a very low poly Playstation look and feel, but it suits the cheesy 80s action movie style of the game. Likewise, the soundtrack is filled with guitar riffs and low-fi voice samples. It did sound like some of the sound levels could use some fine-tuning, though, as some of the effects were a little louder than others, which sounded a bit odd. We played the game using mouse controls, which worked fine.
Dog Duty is definitely a very unique game and traveling around the maps taking down outposts is a lot of fun once you get the hang of things. Each liberated outpost also serves as a save spot where your vehicle is repaired, which is an extra incentive to take them on. The game features desert, swamp, and river environments, which you can traverse using vehicles like a truck, hovercraft, and boat. You can even get into fights with random enemies while traveling with these vehicles. Winning these is worth your while as you’ll get extra cash that can then be spent on buying items such as Molotov cocktails and body armor for your characters. We actually found the Molotov cocktails to be a little overpowered in this game as they can take down swathes of enemies and you can almost hurl them clear across an enemy base. Enemies with special weapons such as flamethrowers can quickly decimate your team, though, so be sure to make use of cover and revive teammates who are downed.
The game still has a few rough edges, like the map not always showing your position and enemies sometimes getting stuck shooting at walls, but it’s still a lot of fun. It doesn’t hold your hand all the time, which is actually quite refreshing and it’s nice to have the freedom to take on the enemies and outposts in whatever order you prefer. Having to free team members before you can add them to your party is also neat, but some of their special abilities felt more useful than others, so we kept the medic in our party permanently, for example. One thing that we would like to see added to the game is more rewards for exploring. There’s already an easter egg or two for players who venture off the beaten track instead of simple racing from one base to the next, but a few more would be great.
Overall, Dog Duty is a unique title that should appeal to anyone looking for a little different than typical shooter or strategy games. It’s definitely a bit of a niche game and can be frustrating until you get used to what it expects from you, but it is rewarding if you stick with it.