I happen to think that a good adventure game tells a good story. A good adventure game story should provide players with some idea of what it is that they are trying to do and back that up with the feeling that what they are trying to do really matters. Can you fulfill your mission in Titanic: Adventure out of Time? Can you discover your identity as you recover your humanity in Bad Mojo? Can you make your way back to the physical world in Amber: Journeys Beyond? If there is no sense of urgency, no sense that the quest matters, the game is over before the opening titles end.
Since the opening titles in DogDay last mere seconds, the game is over pretty quickly. Why? There is no sense of urgency in DogDay. And that lack of urgency reflects the failure of the game to tell its own story. Instead, DogDay relies on its manual to set up the story and fill in most of the details. It is only from the manual that you learn the following:
"Your objective is to make contact with CATS (Coalition Against Totalitarian Society) and provide them with the means to expose the true nature of government activities. You must then flee the city to avoid sharing the fate of so many brave dissidents before you."
Put another way, you need to find and steal some information to sell to CATS in order to earn enough to buy a ticket out of the miserable place you find yourself in. No sticking around and fighting the good fight for you. All you're up for is cashing in and bailing out. While not exactly noble, the quest could have been fun if, as in, say, Noir: A Shadowy Thriller, there were actual clues to sift and folks to interview or eavesdrop on. No such luck. Scraps of newspaper here and there provide the only clues on offer. And no one says a word.
Goofy puzzles can, of course, be fun. After all, it's a game, right? Sadly, the goofy puzzles have been bookended by two classic Short Game Helpers: a trio of arcade sequences and an interminable, unforgivable maze. Pull out the twitching and the slogging and the game slims down dramatically. And makes one wish there had been more to it like what remains.
Visually, DogDay is pretty impressive, even by today's standards. Prerendered animations create the illusion that one is moving through a seamless three-dimensional world. Inventory item animations work well. The sparing use of music and sound effects contributes to an ominous and oppressive mood. As good as the good parts of DogDay are, there aren't enough of them. And there are more than a few bad parts.
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