The title of One Dog Story is something of a disservice to itself.
Sure, it features one dog, and it’s a story about that one dog, but it’s so much more. See, the dog in One Dog Story isn’t your regular ball-fetching, butt-smelling faithful man’s best friend, no. The dog in One Dog Story is an anthropomorphic escapee from a research lab, capable of cohesive thought, walking on his hind legs, and wielding a gun. But then, I suppose One Anthropomorphic Thinking Upright Gun-Wielding Dog Story might have been a little bit too much of a mouthful.
Developed by Big Way Games, One Dog Story released on Steam a couple of weeks ago, and it’s well worth a look. Part platformer, part RPG, part metroidvania, it follows our protagonist hound as he tries to figure out who, where and what he is. It’s action packed, filled with environmental puzzles, plenty of enemies to beat or shoot to death and lots of lovely, sci-fi themed labyrinthine environments to sniff around.
Watch me fumble around the first 20 minutes of One Dog Story below:
One Dog Story is no walk in the park. It pretty much throws you right in, with you having about as much clue as to where you are or what’s going on as your vertical canine companion. After a short introduction – which you can see in the video above – you’re left to your own devices, having to find your way around a pretty strange environment. I’m not the biggest fan of pixel art, but there’s a certain nostalgic charm to One Dog Story that works – it genuinely feels like a quality game from years gone by, rather than just a throwaway retro-styled indie game.
It’s got some unique and pretty clever mechanics, too, which may or may not prove to be incredibly irksome as you get further into the game. As you play, you collect ‘mutagens’, which need to be spent every time you upgrade your weapon, heal yourself, or save your game. Yup, you read that right: you need to spend something to save your game. It’s a fiendish choice, for sure, but it’s a pretty clever idea that forces you to think carefully about any upgrades or heals that you buy as well as ensuring that every time you save is absolutely necessary. Early on into the game, the mutagens are far from scarce, but as you progress further with more upgrades to buy, their value may become even more precious.
I’m only just beginning my One Dog Story adventure, having just downed the first boss and inherited my first shotgun, but I’m excited to see what it holds around the corner. It’s so far been an absolute pleasure to explore, with so many doors and hidden areas holding secrets waiting to be uncovered. Enemies are relentless but satisfying to kill, whether it’s beating them up close with a baseball bat or shooting them from afar with an overpowered pistol – this one dog is a badass, that’s for sure. So far, it goes to show that just because something is old doesn’t mean its outdated – One Dog Story could’ve been a Mega Drive title, but it’s just as enjoyable today as it would’ve been 20 years ago.