Russian Subway Dogs Preview

preview-viewport

Published on August 13, 2018

Russian Subway Dogs
Release Date: August 2nd, 2018
Platform: Windows, Mac; Console support later in 2018
Developer: Spooky Squid Games
Publisher: Spooky Squid Games
Price: $13.49
Preview copy provided by publishers

In video games, Soviet-era iconography and design have historically been relegated to bombed out buildings and the post-apocalypse. While I love the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.s and the Metro 2033s of the world, I think the legacy of Communist art deserves to have a few more options in terms of tone and content. Maybe something with dogs and puns as well.

My dreams are now realized with the release of Russian Subway Dogs on the Mac and PC. Developed and published by Spooky Squid Games, Russian Subway Dogs bills itself as a “systemic action arcade game.” With the assistance of your comrade, Proletericat, and a bunch of kittens, the player is tasked with traversing the Moscow subway system while getting enough to eat for everyone.

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In each stage, the player’s animal — inspired by the true history of the intelligent clans of dogs that navigate the Moscow metro system — runs back and forth a small 2D play-area while subways whiz past, letting off a variety of passengers. The passengers — whether they be grocery-carrying citizens, fish wielding babushkas, or food stealing poodles — all have different characteristics that serve to complicate the hectic, brief levels. As the game progresses, a greater variety of NPC’s inhabit any given level. And with more NPC’s, more systems butt up against each other in chaotic, silly ways.

While your only inputs are to jump or bark, these two actions can create some wild scenarios. In my first hours of play, I had a moment when I was trying to knock hot sauce out of a man’s hand to get a power-up. Unfortunately, I missed the hot sauce, and an enemy NPC dog caught it instead — receiving the power up to shoot fireballs. Fortunately for me, the rival dog ended up shooting fire at a caribou that was charging me. The caribou turned into cooked meat, and my family was well fed that day.

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While many levels are challenging enough to get through on your first run, new levels bar you from entering until you’ve collected a minimum amount of bones. These bones are received from completing challenges in past stages, providing new, often incredibly difficult, twists to past experiences.

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The style and sense of humor of Russian Subway Dogs is immensely charming. As I dive deeper, I hope to discover more of the white-knuckle difficulty and quirk that made me infatuated with the first chunk of the game. Also, maybe some more fodder for my prerogative of attempting to find obtuse parallels between the game’s content and Marxist theory (do the poodles represent an elite bourgeois class that has arisen among the peasantry?? Is solidarity among all house-pets required for us to reach true liberation??) Russian Subway Dogs is now available on Steam and Itch.io.

Categories: Previews

D.W. Wallach

D.W. writes about video games and how to cherish our moments with technology. D.W. is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. Twitter: @gaiaonline420