One of my earliest gaming experiences was playing R-Type on the big coin-op machines in the arcades. There was just something about firing huge amounts of weapons at an overwhelming amount of enemies; destroying massive airships and tiny scrambling fighters alike. Horizontal and vertical shoot ‘em ups are a type of game you don’t really see so much of today, so when DOGOS, by OPQAM fell in to my lap several days before its release, I was excited and a bit curious. Could this game instill all those fond memories of the shoot ‘em ups of my past? Hmmm, we’ll see?
The story starts 50 years after a race of bio-mechanical aliens called Zeetnuks invaded earth and totally ruined the place. They killed people, destroyed things and worse of all, they consumed nearly every resource the earth had.
The war raged for decades but finally humans learned how to use the alien technology against them. They combined human and alien tech and came up with two different and very powerful airships, the KZ-72 and SI-15 which the pilots, presumably quite affectionately, referred to them as DOGOS. But would you credit it, the aliens heard of the ships and pretty much destroyed them all. All, except for one. An exceptional pilot called Desmond Phoenix managed to escape death and vamoosed with one of these new ships.
So, what is an insanely skilled pilot in a powerful new airship supposed to do when his world is overtaken by violent murderous aliens? The story in DOGOS described how his actions ultimately saved the human race.
The storyline within the game itself is mostly told via speech bubbles and conversations, there’s very little interaction within the story itself, but you don’t need one for a game like this.
DOGOS’ gameplay is everything I would expect it to be for a shoot ’em up. However, before you can get right into all that shooty-goodness you need to choose which ship you’re going to use, there are differences in speed, armour and damage so choose the ship based on how you think you’re going to play. Personally, I prefer the KZ-72. Once you’ve chosen your ship, and you’re ready to jump straight in.
There’s a brief tutorial where you learn to control your ship, keys move the ship, while my mouse controls aiming and firing the weapons. It’s left mouse button for air attack and right button for ground attack. It’s all quite simple, and certainly in the tutorial they don’t throw too much at you, one or two air units and the add ground unit at a time. Get someway into the game though, and things really start flying and it can take quite some practice avoiding all the enemy shots while landing your own.
The dynamic camera is something that initially did grate on me. Rather than the simplistic vertical or horizontal scrolling, DOGOS scrolls based on the direction you travel in but it’s not always fantastically responsive. At the start I would find myself at the edge of the screen too much until it scrolled in the right direction. It’s a tiny thing though, and didn’t get in the way after I learned to avoid that.
Graphically, and as you’d expect DOGOS is a beautiful thing. Not because everything is photo-realistic graphics or perfectly smooth animation. Instead it captures the look and feel of the sideways shoot ’em ups I remember so fondly from my childhood. The graphics are nice, don’t get me wrong, It’s mostly the perfect homage to those retro games that I enjoyed so much.
Like the graphics, the sound in DOGOS was spot on, just the right amount of ‘pew pew pew’ and old school space combat noises that I would have wanted. The music in the game is also very retro and wonderful. So, not perfect sound but perfectly fitting with the game.
OPQAM have done their best to add plenty of reasons to keep playing DOGOS. There are four difficulty levels, going from very easy, which gives you infinite lives, high firepower and high armour through to hard which gives you three lives, low armour and low firepower. You also have the different ships and skins to try and let’s not forget the 14 levels they give you in the first place to get through. However, even with all that I don;t foresee many people playing this for months and months on end. Maybe the die-hard completionist will want to finish DOGOS on every difficulty with every ship, but I don’t think I will. Having said that, this is a brilliant game in the short-term.
DOGOS is due to be released on 7th September and will be available on Steam here