One Dog Story is a pixel adventure game from Big Way Games. You play as a dog who wakes up in an underground laboratory which is being destroyed by various monsters. They promise an engaging adventure title with RPG elements and well-developed characters. Whilst some of this is true, it’s mostly over-selling what is, in reality, an underwhelming title. Here’s our One Dog Story Review.
The pixel art-style is likely what will draw many people to One Dog Story, and for good reason. It’s simple, yet it gives a lot of detail to the backgrounds and character models. This is consistent throughout the game, even through the many level design and theme changes. Whether you’re in the underground lab, an artificially grown garden or in space, there’s lots of little details in the art-style to enjoy and it certainly put a smile on my face.
One Dog Story’s gameplay consists of sidescrolling combat and platforming. Most of the time you’ll either be battling groups of enemies or huge, exciting bosses. The combat in One Dog Story is a lot of fun thanks to a good variety of enemies. In each stage the game introduces you to more enemy types which become more challenging throughout. In the early stages you have to fight slugs and the occasional spider. But progress a little further and you’ll be in a hellish landscape fighting off exploding demons. This variety keeps the moment-to-moment gameplay fun, but they are really just a means to get to the next boss.
The boss battles in One Dog Story are really good. The first few are fairly simple but after that you’ll see a large difficulty curve. To succeed at this point you’ll need to focus and have great reactions. Each boss has an awesome, distinct design, and a range of unique attacks to go with it. They occur frequently enough that even if other aspects of the game grow stale, you always have something exciting just round the corner.
If you’re not fighting, you’ll be doing lots of platforming, but these can be hit or miss. Sometimes they are bland, involving nothing more than pushing a box and jumping on top. Other times they can be quick, tense bursts of jumping between thin pillars which feel extremely satisfying to pull off. This inconsistency in design does make the game weaker overall though, and these slower segments seem a lot more frequent than their tense counterparts.
Aside from the epic boss battles and the tense platforming parts, One Dog Story becomes monotonous and confusing. The plot has an interesting premise at the start. You must find out why you awoke in this underground lab and find a way to escape. However, this wears thin rather quickly. It barely develops through the first half of the game. You will run into scientists throughout each of the early stages, most of which have a very similar reaction. They all threaten you in a seemingly mad frenzy, but then just stand their doing nothing. This isn’t fulfilling the developers promise of ‘well-developed characters’ from the game description. If you’re expecting fleshed out characters with unique personalities, this game certainly isn’t for you.
Labyrinthian Level Design
The story isn’t the only boring part though. From the start, you’ll notice that every stage is a labyrinthian mess of rooms that don’t cohesively connect at all. My entire time playing the game I felt lost, purely guessing which door to enter next. These various rooms don’t flow into the ‘expansive world’ promised by the developers. Rather, I consistently found myself lost and bored, eagerly hoping the game would get exciting again soon.
One Dog Story Review Verdict
One Dog Story has a wonderful pixel-art style which details every stage and character throughout. Each stage has a new theme which keeps things entertaining whilst you rip through the variety of enemies thrown at you. It’s not just the enemies trying to kill you though. There are plenty of environmental dangers like lava and falling rocks which contribute to some great platforming sections. Each of these stages ends with a big, thrilling boss battle. Though these are easy at first, they certainly get harder and require lots of focus later on. They are the best part of One Dog Story, and are frequent enough that the game is enjoyable. However, One Dog Story is bogged down by a boring story, meaningless characters and confusing, maze-like levels which are sure to turn most players away.
You can purchase One Dog Story here. Have you played One Dog Story? Did you enjoy my One Dog Story review? Let us know in the comments below, or over on our social media. If you’re wanting more, you can find our review of Battletoads here, or Tell Me Why here. For all the latest gaming news, stay tuned to Generation Xbox!