I’m very much a dog person. I have a really annoying, but awesome and loveable mutt myself. Put a dog in a game and I’m instantly interested. Do you know what I don’t like? Virtual pet games. Wobbledogs, from developer Animal Uprising and publisher Secret Mode is a dog-based virtual pet game, so this should be interesting.
“A 3D pet simulation where you raise your own personal hive of mutating dogs, physically simulated all the way down to their guts! Wobbledogs is a casual and chill sandbox for players of all ages who want to care for their very own virtual pets in a surprising, unique, and stress-free environment.”
The quickest way to describe Wobbledogs is to imagine Nintendogs crossed with Viva Piñata. Yes, you’re raising and looking after dogs, but these pooches aren’t your ‘normal’ four-legged friends. You won’t see a Golden Retriever, German Shepherd or even a Dachshund here. The canines of Wobbledogs are a bit more, well… ‘wobbly’. Bizarre animals that share a lot of traits with a household dog, but also have this tendency to look like something from aSalvador Dali fever dream.
There’s a brief tutorial that introduces you to the controls and very bare basics of the game. Then, you’re left to play and experiment with the dog’s DNA. What you feed these Wobbledogs will change how they look and act. You can cross-breed, play around with their genetics and the end result can be as funny as it can be terrifying. The bright pastel colours and overly cute graphics steer this one from veering into horror territory. But still, you can create dogs with (basically) ‘deformities’ that would make David Cronenberg green with envy.
Do you want dogs with elongated bodies, multiple legs (I mean more than the usual 4), dogs with mismatched legs, tiny heads and more? You really are creating mutant dogs and if this had more realistic graphics, it would be one of the most visually disturbing games I have ever played because you can really create some true abominations. Everything takes place in a simulation, so not of this is ‘real’, which does take some of the sting out of the monsters that you are responsible for.
There is no story to follow, but Wobbledogs does come with some basic goals to reach for. You can build and customise the dog’s living area, unlock new items and cosmetics and train them to do simple tricks like sit and roll over. Other than that, this is all about messing around with genetics to make the most abnormal and peculiar dogs that you can.
With a £16 price tag and out now for PC and all the consoles, Wobbledogs is very hit-and-miss. As I said at the start of this review, I don’t really like virtual pet games, but I can appreciate them. The trouble with Wobbledogs is that there isn’t a lot to do. You mess around with the genetics and create new dogs, you unlock items and cosmetics, and that’s it. You do actually do anything with the dogs themselves. You can’t take them outside and interact with the world, everything takes place in the location where you create these things. There is no main goal, no dog show where you could try to breed the most insane dog or whatever. No NPCs to interact with or even the chance to show off your creations to other players. Wobbledogs needs something to give it a lift and a reason for you to play.
I’ve been playing the Xbox version and the controls are very imprecise too. Trying to do something as simple as picking up an item is very fiddly and needs pixel-perfect precision. You can tell that this was designed for PC or touchscreen play. Overall, Wobbledogs plays more like a distraction that you would find in a bigger game, over being its own thing. There is just not a lot of playability here and it soon becomes very tiresome. It’s certainly a very chilled and relaxed game, and that’s a good thing. There’s just not really a great deal to enjoy.