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20 June, 2014

Doggins Review - "A dreaming terrier's battle of wits with a villainous monocled squirrel"

Do dogs have dreams? This is the question delightfully posed and charmingly answered by developer Brain & Brain’s point-and-click adventure Doggins. After going on a fantastical journey into outer space, involving time travel and against scheming squirrels - or as the App Store description states, "a dreaming terrier's battle of wits with a villainous monocled squirrel" - I don't think I'll ever quite look at a sleeping dog in the same light again.
Our tiny terrier’s adventure starts off with what a dog seems to do best, settling in for a well-earned nap. Except this pooch's slumber is anything but usual. He’s soon transported to the moon, where he must explore the unusual surroundings via much sniffing and doggy antics.

Brain & Brain has done an incredible job in conveying emotion and charm through this tale, especially considering our star is a furry animal who doesn’t speak. In fact I played with a smile on my face for the entire game and genuinely laughed out loud on a few occasions. At one point, our friendly companion's house blows up due to the dastardly schemes of the villainous, monocle wearing squirrel, Fitzwilliam. Just a slight, sad drop in our dreaming terrier’s tail conveys so much more than a block of text ever could. Coming across a manual written for squirrels that provides a guide on how to cause car crashes, and then using this against them, points to some incredibly clever and witting writing.
The puzzle elements are fairly light on, but still smart enough to provide a sense of reward on completion. It generally involves only tapping or manipulating a small number of objects and inventory items. I wasn't expecting to come away with a better understanding of how to put on a doggy bow tie and fake moustache, but I'm glad I did. If you come in with the expectation of enjoying a casual and quiet adventure, rather than a complex and mysterious title on par with games like Broken Sword, you'll have a great time.
The only disappointing thing about Doggins is that it’s tantalising short. It just feels like you're just starting to get into the swing of things when the game abruptly ends. If you don't get stuck on any puzzles, expect to be done and dusted in around 20 minutes. For the content you get, the $4 price tag seems too high. It’s a criticism and compliment at the same time, as I desperately wanted our faithful mutt to keep on dreaming because I was having such a great time.
Doggins is one of those games that should be loaded onto every iPad. It is a wonderfully charming, humorous and casual adventure that is unfortunately cut short in its prime. You won't regret your time with it all the same, and I sure hope Brain & Brain rewards fans with another chapter or three.

Grab the game here. Or you might be in time to win a copy here.

Stephen Mitchell

   - Doggins
   - Broken Sword: Director’s Cut
   - Broken Sword – The Smoking Mirror: Remastered
   - Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse

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