Developer(s) – Spooky Squid Games
Publisher(s) – Spooky Squid Games
PEGI – Not Rated
Developed by Canadian independent outfit Spooky Squid Games and inspired by the real-life international phenomenon of Moscow’s metro stations, Russian Subway Dogs is an arcade game whereby the objective is to rack up as many points as possible by stealing food from passing commuters. To me, it’s one of those wonderful gaming ideas that was inspired by a pretty unlikely source but at the same time making for a whole load of fun to be enjoyed in game form.
Graphics – 7/10
The game is wonderfully varied in terms of graphics, as not only are there different types of gods to unlock throughout the game that players can use as alternative skins, but there are also different variations of Russian subways with their own unique designs and color palettes. Variety only becomes more apparent as time goes on since new and more challenging enemies are introduced with each stage. At first, I was pretty curious as to what would inspire the developers to make a game based on this whole visual concept, but after I did my research and found out that it’s all actually based on a very real and very prominent aspect of Russian culture (so much so that street dogs in Moscow have become pretty much a national symbol), I found myself wondering how no one had picked up on this idea before this game.
Gameplay – 7/10
The gameplay revolves around the player controlling a street dog and barking to startle passers-by so that they drop their food allowing the dog to steal and eat it. That’s the basic gist, but there soon comes other obstacles for the player to have to contend with, such as rival dogs who steal food first if the player misses out on it, as well as certain commuters who attack the dogs with huge fish. Players can also startle people carrying bottles of vodka that act like Molotov cocktails that can be used to either eliminate rival dogs or even attack commuters so that the food they carry is cooked by the attack making the food dropped worth more points. Later on, throughout the game, there are other unique commuters whose food offers special abilities that the player can take advantage of to rack up more points or one-up the rival dogs on the stage, as well as contending with bigger animals that are later introduced such as bears.
As well as there is an unprecedented amount of variety in graphic design, there’s also an unprecedented amount of variety in gameplay; just as much as any other respectable arcade franchise like Pac-Man or Dig Dug. A lot of indie developers have attempted to rehash old arcade classics by adding new features to them, like what Puppy Games did with both Ultratron and Titan Attacks. But it’s arcade games like this and Pix The Cat that really do better to catch the attention of arcade game fans by offering something new and this game certainly does not disappoint in that aspect.
Controls – 10/10
The control scheme also poses no problems to the player; in fact, it’s quite innovative for an arcade game along with the general gameplay concept. Again, it’s yet another reason why this arcade game is able to stand out better than many other arcade titles developed across the indie gaming community, as many of them, including the likes of Pix the Cat, Curses ‘N’ Chaos, and Hyper Sentinel are based on the control schemes of many ‘80s classics such as Defender and Pac-Man.
Originality – 7/10
I’ve already pointed out on numerous occasions that this game does well to stand out among not only newer arcade games made by indie developers, but also amongst the arcade classics of the late ‘70s and those throughout the ‘80s. It’s one of those ideas that if looked at on paper, you’d think it may be rejected immediately. But when designed for use on console and PC, it makes for something particularly special; something that players can potentially invest a great deal of time in.
To summarize, Russian Subway Dogs is an enjoyable arcade title that offers virtually unlimited replay value, since there is not only a general story mode but an endless mode as well. It’s a charming, addicting game that is worth investing in and I highly recommend it.