Dogos is a weird name. How the hell do you pronounce it? Doo-goss? Dog-os? Is it an initialism or an acronym? Answers on a postcard please, but one thing thing that is certain is that the name Zeetnuk is weirder. The name of the villainous alien race that dogs you at every turn sounds more at home on the discarded page of a pre-adolescent sketchbook, but who cares about that stuff when you’re blowing their smithereens to smithereens?
Dogos presents a more unique take on the shoot ’em up, granting the player full 360 degree control of the camera as opposed to the traditional vertical scrolling. It makes the game feel more akin to something like Desert Strike than an Ikaruga or Raiden V, except you control the direction of the camera.
It’s a system that functions well, but it’s nothing that hasn’t already been done before. The shooting is perfectly fine, with a good range mix of 4 primary weapons and 3 ground weapons, alongside collectable super weapons. You’re guaranteed to pick a loadout that works for you. Some might prefer the spread of the plasma, where others might like the focused damage of the Eraser. Both are viable options against the Zeetnuks.
The biggest gripe with shooting comes when fighting ground units, which requires a level of accuracy hard to attain when you’re being pelted from all sides. Most shoot ‘em ups have just the ship as the focus point, so having to keep an eye on both the ship and the targeting reticule can be bothersome. That’s especially the case during one late game boss fight when the reticule straight up lies to you, as bullets and rockets sail further than the target would have you believe. Frustrating isn’t the word.
Those are just some minor niggles, but the game play falls flat once the enemies have been cleared, as Dogos relies on sections where you have to use specific timing to traverse a passage of one hit kill shield walls, some of which offer no discernable pattern whatsoever. When the shooting has been marketed as challenging but most of your deaths can be attributed to these dodgy shields, there’s a problem that needs addressing. Dogos is lucky that it’s fairly liberal with its checkpoints, otherwise the whole experience would be much more negative.
Dogos isn’t a bad game. You’ll get some enjoyment out of it for a while, and with 14 levels, multiple boss fights that are often the highlights of the whole game, 4 difficulties and bonus objectives to complete, there’s a decent amount of replay value to try and keep you coming back, but shoot ‘em up fatigue will kick in before the end credits roll. Sure, the game is fundamentally solid, but it’s just bland and lacking any sort of charisma or personality. The 360 control is supposed to feel like a revolution, but it’s wholly unnecessary and Dogos would probably be better off without it.
Check out the official trailer below, and let us know whether you agree with our decision in the comments below!
DOGOS releases on 7 September – download it from the Store.
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Spinning around in circles
A shoot ‘em up with decent fundamentals that does little to build upon those foundations, Dogos is a bit of a disappointment. Sure, you’ll find some fun, but you’ll find tedium not long afterwards.