Ain’t My First Rodeo
By Brett Wolfe
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on September 6th, 2016 for PS4, September 7 for Xbox One & PC
Publisher: OPQAM Developer: OPQAM
Play another shmup, they said! It will be interesting, they said! It will be really fun, THEY said! Well, guess what? They were right!
Dogos is a shoot ‘em up developed by OPQAM (same as Project Root). The game puts the player in the role as Desmond Phoenix, an exceptional fighter pilot, who is tasked with saving Earth from the Zeetnuks. Near the beginning of his journey Desmond runs into Europa, a tank operator, who needs your help getting out of Zeetnuk territory by forming a rag-tag team to destroy the Zeetnuks. To those unfamiliar, anyone that played Project Root knows that it was not a great game. That title was actually quite underwhelming. Thankfully, Dogos pulls a complete 180 and is exponentially better than its predecessor.
The gameplay of this title is a three-dimensional shmup in which you maneuver your spaceship through fourteen maze-like levels. Each level varies in level design and contains multiple stages with various paths to finish a portion of the level. Every level also comes with three different optional challenges to complete throughout the duration of the level. These optional objectives range anywhere from finishing the level in a set amount of time, defeating ‘X’ amount of a certain enemy, and finding and defeating a ‘secret’ enemy. The challenge that I noticed popping up the most would be completing the level without losing any lives. These challenges, as far as I am aware at the time of this review, have no correlation with progression in the game except for adding additional objectives. You can beat the level without earning any of them and the next level will unlock. Plus, upgrades for your spaceship come from beating the level as well. Speaking of the spaceship, when you start your save file, you are able to choose between two different ships with varying statistics. Both of the ships control well and do not feel clunky in the slightest. The ships have an air attack, a ground attack, and a special attack. The air weapon starts off as run-of-the-mill pellet that is shot at the enemy ships and has three different upgrades. It is nice to note that these upgrades are separate loadouts that allow you to go back to a previous version of the weapon if the current one is not desirable. The first upgrade just increases the spread of the pellets, the second causes the spread to move in a double-helix formation, and the third one creates a cone. The ground weaponry is a little bit more in depth with its variations. The standard shot is a single missile that arches slightly. The first upgrade changes the weapon to a high power sniper rifle. This will kill the ground targets much faster; however, it has a much longer reload time between shots. The final upgrade is a cluster bomb that shots a large group of bombs at the enemies. This one is nonetheless the best option as it does immense damage and has a pretty fast reload speed. The special attacks in this game are acquired by pickups during the mission and varying between a laser beam, homing missiles, and EMP blast. The laser beam is a powerful beam that travels directly in front of the player and destroys any enemy that it comes into contact with. The homing missiles fire a barrage of missiles that prioritize ground targets, but will attack air units if they are closer. The EMP blast removes all enemy projectiles from the screen. Finally, I would like to touch on the difficulty of this game. Dogos has four different difficulties. The three standard (easy, normal, hard), as well as an additional called minimal. Minimal difficulty states that enemies do minimal damage and the character does extra damage. With this in mind, this game can be a cake-walk due to this difficulty. I personally played on easy and the only issues I would run into would be the insta-death sections by running into walls during the ‘runner’ (ship is always moving) section or the beam puzzles in some of the levels.
The visuals of Dogos are nice, but I do not feel that they are anything spectacular. The colors in the game are vibrant and the terrain changes from level to level. These are both extremely nice, but I do not feel that the visuals are the selling point. The ships also provide a couple different paint jobs if you would like to change up your spaceship, which is pretty cool! The soundtrack I feel has the same appeal. I noticed the music playing in the background during the levels were appealing; however, I did feel they got repetitive. In the end, I noticed myself not even listening to the soundtrack as it was not anything that caught my attention.
The replayability in this title is quite minuscule in my opinion. While the game is quite short, the biggest replay factor would be to go back and try and complete all of the side objectives. These would be menial and wouldn’t add that much to the gameplay to keep you intrigued for a larger amount of gameplay. Replaying the entire game again on a higher difficulty would be the best way to stretch the game out, but again it would not add anything new.
All in all, this game is worth the pick-up for anyone that is into the classic shoot ‘em ups or just the causal gamer. The information that was found puts the price point at $12 USD, which I feel is a great price point. The game will last you about 3 to 4 hours playing on easy and is fun for those few hours. Playing the game on a harder difficulty will present you with more playtime; however, for $12 the four hours that this game provides is definitely enough in my opinion. Even though I feel that the soundtrack and visuals are not spectacular, the gameplay makes up for this and would highly recommend picking this one up. It is a fun little title to play and it was enjoyable throughout.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 7.5/10
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