Bullshit Review of _Find the Dog_

Sorry for the bullshit of this bullshit review — a real review would be too difficult to write.

This is a fine game — parser works, pictures work — text does its job — the main problem being you can’t download it.  Which is fine if you have a decent internet connection, but my tubes are slow.

The premise is vaguely amusing.  You play a 50 year old neighborhood woman who makes a bundle ($150 a week) to dog-sit a woman’s dog at her apartment.  The interaction with the 50 year old neighborhood bachelors at McDonalds in the morning is frighteningly on.  I suspect the author lurked and took notes, or perhaps is a 50 year old woman himself.

The complication hits immediately:  The dog dies.  This is almost immediate, but after you’ve played a few rounds and imagine this is shaping up to be some kind of Dog Sim, complete with minigames like Clean Up After Rover (did you bring a plastic bag?)

It’s been established that this dog is your bread and butter — “Are you SERIOUS?  $150 a week to WALK A DOG?” the bachelors exclaim — and you basically have no other income except for a woefully inadequate social security check that on inspection causes your player character to mentally review your older friends who have sold off their belongings, or taken in strange boarders, or so forth, to eek by on theirs.

Therefore, when the dog dies — or more accurately, is discovered dead in the apartment — the correct response is adequately indicated by context, but by no means obvious.  You must [spoiler] pop the dog into the freezer and find a replacement before the owner returns.

Why keep the old dog in the freezer?  Because you have to compare it to the impersonator.  (“Imdoginator,” one of the more philosophical bachelors corrects.)

Now, this is a complicated proposition.  There are various dogs scattered around the neighborhood, and their markings are randomly generated.  Some are outdoors, some indoors.  Your mission therefore includes not only lurking outside a vet’s office and skulking around the local dogwalk park, but listening for barking that may be coming from a house, and breaking in when you figure there’s no one around.

When you find a similar-seeming dog, you dognap it, return to the apartment, and compare it to the stiff.  The first few aren’t really close enough, so you release the impostor and continue your search.

It’s pretty impressive.  There are just a few mini-games, by situation type, the details of which appear to be randomly generated — except perhaps one or two that seem to be coded in by hand.  So you get good at explaining your way out of a stranger’s living room, and hiding in a shrubbery a block away while the police look for you — possibly while cradling a stolen dog in your arms —    or else sticking to your stupid story and allowing yourself to be arrested, without cracking under the pressure and admitting that you’re out to dognap someone’s pooch.

You only have three days, and this did not seem possible to me.  Apparently you can win, because the owner simply does not pay that close attention and will accept a pretty outrageous fake.  — I didn’t play further than the three days, but apparently, the owner only comes back briefly, accepts a reasonable impostor, and you can keep playing in this way nearly “as long as you like.” 

However, over time the owner looks more and more closely at the dog — and, oh yes, you have to get the body out of the fridge, or game over.[/spoiler]

According to comments on the forum, there’s a kind of a hack whereby [spoiler]you can blow your score out above the theoretical limit.  You do this by leaving your best-fit impostor dog in the apartment and dogsitting it as if it were your client’s own.  After a day, you return to the scene of the crime and (often) find a LOST DOG poster which (often) offers a sizeable reward.  If you let the dog loose, it’ll be running stray around the neighborhood, catchable — but if you kept it in your apartment, you simply walk it to the victim’s house and claim your reward.

This is deliberately coded as a minigame.  However, the “hack” relies on the fact that you can keep any number of dogs in the owner’s apartment, and your score is determined by the amount of money you make.  However, you must take care of all of these dogs, and this takes time that you would otherwise be out prowling around, looking for new prey.

All in all, a peculiar game that manages to win at many of the jokes that those funny murder movies make.  The mechanics are often klunky, and there are several unresolved questions — like, [spoiler]why can’t you keep extra dogs at your place, and the dead one in your own fridge[/spoiler]? — but overall, worth a play.

I don’t really have the knack of reviewing these things without giving surprises away.  The surprises in _Find the Dog_ are worth being surprised by, even though it’s not a plot-driven game.  Certainly worth looking at during a dull moment at work.

Published in: on January 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for taking the time to post this! I came across your post on Planet IF, so maybe I’m reading it outside of its intended context, in which case I apologize for the dumb question I’m about to ask — but am I correct in assuming from your description that this is a game that is available for the general public to play on the web? And if so, what is the game’s URL? I’ve tried searching for it in various places but no luck so far. Thanks in advance….

  2. Christ, you’re asking me this? It’s much easier to find a random game on the internet than a specific one.

    It’s on one of those websites with a lot of games on them. FTD was one of the higher-rated ones.

    I thought you IF guys would already know about it. I’ve been out of the loop a year or two. –Give me a bit, I’m sure I can re-find it.

  3. No luck so far, I take it? Me either. You might try searching in your web browser’s history — it should be in there….

  4. I am pretty sure this game does not exist. Hence the “bullshit” line at the beginning. Very amusing. Ha ha ha.

  5. I thought it was a good game concept.

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