STAFF REVIEW of Dogos (Xbox One)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Dogos Box art There is a dying genre of gaming in the world today. Shoot 'em up (shump) games are far and few between, and quality shump games are even rarer. Developer OPQUAM have decided to step into the ring with Dogos, a top down shump style game for the low, low price of $11.99 + tax. Promising exciting and innovative gameplay, the real questions to be asked are: "Does it really provide that gameplay?" and "Is it worth the cost?"

Dogos starts you off on planet Earth where aliens named Dogos (who knew right?) have attacked, and thanks to apparently very quick setup times, they have fortified a total of 14 hybrid levels to challenge your shooting skills. Throughout the meaningless story you'll learn more about the Dogos, and your pilot, but if we're being honest here, that won't matter because you'll be too busy fixated on the actual levels themselves. Developer OPQUAM has decided to venture away from the whole "on rails" experience, as normally in a shump game your ship in set to naturally fly through a series of pre-loaded levels where it's impossible to do any sort of exploration. Well, not here.

Instead you're going to switch between a forced top down view where your sole focus is to essentially hang on for dear life and never stop firing. This mode is designed to transport you through long narrow passageways that would be normally mundane to fly through at increased speed, and they not only pay homage to the on the rails aspect, but they also save time and prevent Dogos from becoming boring. Once you manage to get through, Dogos abandons the whole "on rails" concept to focus on open level sandbox exploration where you have free control to fly forward, back, left, right, or wherever you want to go. Along with this you have free camera control movement as well, so the levels are a sort of hybrid mix of the two different game types.

The problem I had was with this was that Dogos always seemed to have a slight hiccup while the camera was shifting between the two modes, and should I be going from open world to rails, the game would immediately propel my craft faster than I would normally go. Sometimes when combined with the hiccup in the transfer my ship, I would go crashing head-on into the side of a canyon. Speaking of ships though...

They're more traditional here. You get two of them and each have their own distinct balances of weapons, shields, speed, etc., so it's not like you have a plethora of choices to see what works best for you. Each ship has varying armaments which include a single primary weapon that you fire with RT, and a ground weapon that you fire with LT. Both of these weapons can unlock more variants as you progress through the game and you can unlock weapons such as screen filling laser spreads and cluster bombs.

One issue that plagued me was a seemingly impossible way of hitting ground targets. My laser fire would knock out anything in the sky, but trying to hit a small moving tank with a missile was like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. Since this hit detection is so poorly executed you will find yourself literally bashing the crap out of your LT, which not only will result in finger fatigue, but your left index finger will become super-humanly strong compared to your others.

On top of this weaponry you get special attacks as well that can consist of homing missiles, laser cannon, and so much more. To fire these, you have to first obtain them by collecting ammo for them from fallen enemies, then just press LB and watch as all the enemies on the screen become under attack. Very straightforward, which is good. I just wish I could say the same for the graphics and the music though, but they aren't up to par.

The top down segments almost feel like wasted time as they throw you through a winding narrow corridor where they litter the path with enemies and traps to kill you, only to have you emerge into a massive battle where you have missiles, tank rounds, and more coming at you like a massive tidal wave of enemy ammunition. Personally I'd rather see these sections shortened or removed to focus more on the sandbox exploration, because when you're flying through the corridor sections you can't enjoy the graphics around you the same way you can when you're exploring. The sound though is dreadful. I wasn't expecting any sort of sonic marvel, but the soundtrack is a high energy piece that gets drilled into your skull thanks to its repetition. I currently enjoy the game more if I turn my sound off, and that to me is never a good sign.

Dogos tries to do quite a lot, but in doing so it is sadly underwhelming in a lot of categories. It's like the old saying, a Jack of all trades is a Master of none, and that is what Dogos is a prime example of. Had there been more of a focus on the open sandbox exploration, and certainly better hit detection on the ground weaponry, Dogos could have been a lot better than it is.

Overall: 6.9 / 10
Gameplay: 6.9 / 10
Visuals: 7.6 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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