Review: Dogos Brings Classic Arcade Shoot Em Ups to the Modern Era
Flying through the air, breeze running through your hair, alien blood being wiped off your windshield… this is how I imagined the average day of my player in Dogos. An arcade-inspired Shoot ‘em Up (or SHMUP), Dogos is the creation of Buenos Aires developer OPQAM. While the game looks fantastic, and plays even better, a sub-par soundtrack and pacing issues in the last act result in the game slightly missing its target.
Developer OPQAM is a lover of classic arcade shooters like Galaga and 1942, which shows with help from the gaming engine that they built from the ground up to make the game feel even more like its arcade ancestors. In fact, OPQAM’s elevator pitch for Dogos is “Current technology into classic SHMUP Games” and that’s what made the game feel so new to me. I’m sure others have done it before, but Dogos allows you to move freely throughout an area in place of the retro scrolling that was used in arcades.
Graphically, Dogos looks incredible. The game’s environment and 3D artists deserve praise for the amount of detail that went into the various sceneries and models. Couple that with some incredible technical art through the game’s lighting engine — particularly with bullet effects — and Dogos turns into a game that is incredibly satisfying to watch unfold. Especially in the game’s boss sections, which turn Dogos into more of a “Bullet Hell” shooter where you are constantly swerving and dodging out of the path of neon death.
The retro tribute also shows with the gameplay, one of my highlights of the experience. In an easy-to-learn-but-hard-to- master style, you start out with basic movements: air-targeted shooting and ground targeted shooting. The game later throws in special moves and different variations to the traditional attacks, keeping your ship feeling fresh after every couple of levels. I’m not a huge SHMUP player, but it is one of the best feeling ones I’ve played on a home console.
However, I’m conflicted with some of the design choices made throughout the game. The bosses, which are featured at the end of select levels, are incredibly fun and hectic as you learn their patterns. Unfortunately, the chaos fades fast, with the bosses being able to take way too many hits, turning the hectic gameplay that is typically found within the main levels into a slog of “avoid pattern, take pot shot, repeat”.
The game also has sections where the player loses control of the speed of the ship, and is forced to navigate through various caverns and canyons at high speeds. While I originally liked the idea and its implementation, it becomes too dependent on reflex-based movements to ever be able to make it through on your first try. These sections quickly become more of a test of patience and frustration in place of the high speed chase scenes the developers were chasing after. Likewise, the game introduces sections where the action slows to a halt as you wait for Green walls of death to turn off and on to advance. These design choices took the fast paced action game and created a tonal shift into the realms of patience and luck, which eventually wore me down.
All in all, the game plays and looks great, and is totally worth the $12 admission for the first act alone. Even with some pacing and tonal shifts, I highly recommend picking it up to try, especially if you’re a fan of the genre.
Overall, I give Dogos a “Corny End Cut Scene” out of 10.
-Weaker Third Act