Digging for Danger in Dig Dog

Local developer Rusty Moyher designs a perilous dog dimension

This might be an unpopular stance, but I hate dogs in video games, at least realistic ones. Canine familiars in battle puts enough stress on me to abandon otherwise great titles. Fallout 4 and Metal Gear Solid 5 remain unfinished because I can’t stomach a dog's pained yelp as it tries to help me fight weapon-toting ne'er-do-wells.

Luckily, the silhouetted pup in the latest game from prolific local developer Rusty Moyher is impressionistic enough to keep me playing despite the amount of deaths and subsequent reincarnations.

Things are not looking good for our hero.

Players take control of a determined dog with a jaunty tail who digs, dives, and dashes in search of a bone. Completion of that task sends our canine flying toward the next level and increasingly troublesome enemies. Stomp or charge them for coins, health, or just the satisfaction of downing a baddie. Coins are used for puppy upgrades to help even the score on the increasingly difficult levels.

Deaths come quickly until you get a better sense of how to spot enemies and predict their modes of attack, and even then the games aren't meant to go more than a few minutes. At times players can relax and map out a game plan, other times it's a mad rush to avoid, attack, and escape and get that elusive bone. Regardless of your play style, Dig Dog is addictive and supplies unique situations with every playthrough.

If the Bone Hunt mode has you stymied, Free Dig gives you a breather. The more relaxed experience offers much less challenge as you explore the infinite number of levels without any fear of having to start over.

Don't let the two-dimensional, grid-based design give you the sense that Dig Dog lacks complexity. Like Downwell or Spelunky, the enemy interactions with the player and the environment supply no shortage of unexpected obstacles and encounters that only expert players will see coming. Developer Rusty Moyher clearly spent no small amount of effort in balancing the design to ensure that players die in new and unexpected ways.

Dig Dog can be found on the App Store, Steam, and Xbox Live. Dig around for some change ($2.99 total) and start playing.

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Dig Dog, Rusty Moyher

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