And an Australian day at that. A local product that never really hit the highs, it offers the opportunity to play as a dog, find the C.A.T.S. and then leave. Probably for the pub, although I found one of those earlier in the game and woke up with a sore head next to the wino in the lane.
Which is pretty much where the DogDay starts. Get out of a shed and meet the wino. Explore a bit, rummage in the bins (dogs and adventure players are a natural synergy in that regard) and if you are lucky you might find a newspaper which might give you some idea of what you are supposed to be doing. You might also find the paper, but miss the point. If so, well you won't be the first. I completely failed to appreciate its significance.
Which is partly my fault, but were it not for the manual I would not have had the faintest idea of the objective of my doggy day. Nor would I have uncovered it as I went along as there isn't really an emerging storyline within the game. So it certainly won't hurt to read the manual.
If you do, you will learn that times are tough and oppressive, and the town is ruled by the despotic Chegga. Dissidence is crushed. The price of chew toys is up and meat rations are down. You need to find the Coalition Against Totalitarian Society (C.A.T.S) and somehow expose Chegga and bring him down.
You are pretty much on your own as you wander the streets. Wander where you shouldn't (no-one likes a stray) and you end up in the "pound". From which you must escape, more than once perhaps, depending upon your circumstances.
I confess I had a bit of fun at first with DogDay. The setting was suitably doggy and dull, seedy and oppressive in look and feel, and the graphics were rather good considering its age. The sounds were limited but effective, the characters few and not at all (literally) talkative. Presumably you never know who might be listening.
But having wandered around and poked about and gathered some items and solved some reasonably intuitive puzzles, I hit the first snag.
Not so much a snag, but a blatant attempt to pad out the game. The arcade parlour required that you set the high score on three different arcade games, being variants of Asteroids, Pacman and Space Invaders. Find the machines with the lowest high scores and have at it.
At first, I did not in fact realise that was what I had to do, which is a common failing in DogDay. I did rather well at Space Invaders, won a prize and moved on. Only much later did I learn (via a walkthough) that I had to go back and win the lot. How good you are at these games will determine your frustration level.
In the meantime I had been captured by the dog catcher, and had my first stint in the caboose. It wasn't my only one. Getting out proved less than easy, and was responsible for my first look at a walkthrough.
According to the manual "pay attention to what you hear and see because there will be clues to help in solving real life puzzles". Both are a tad inaccurate. There is very little to help you with much of what you must do, and whilst I am always reluctant to make such claims, realising that it might well be my failure to discern the direction as opposed to there not being one, I remain of the view that in DogDay the direction is limited at best. There is also very little that is "real life" about most of the puzzles. I had quite a bit of fun with many of them but it wasn't a life I have ever lived, even my one as a dog.
I ended up feeling this was one of the biggest failings in the game. Sure you can try everything to see whether anything works, but too many times I didn't even know I had to try something. There are no active cursors to indicate possible actions, which makes the lack of in-game direction even more pronounced. At times I had no idea that I was even confronted by a puzzle. The walkthrough became my best friend.
Which was ok, because I was still rather enjoying the whole thing. The walkthrough gave me the direction I needed, and whilst the "why" of some solutions remains a mystery, I made steady progress. Then I hit the sewers (read maze).
If the arcade games were frustrating for the hour or so it took me to knock them all off, the sewers were downright excruciating. The locked gates every so often didn't help. Three separate locations must be reached using the sewers and after a couple of hours I gave up, and finished with the walkthrough.
The end came soon after, and after the sewers it was a blessed relief. The maze is guaranteed to cause angst among many adventure players, and whilst sneaking through sewers is a legitimate part of some story lines, given the design and length of the sewers in DogDay, I unfortunately must state that they felt like little more than filler. Which was not even necessary, as the game was a fairly decent length.
DogDay played fine under Windows 98 (I didn't try XP) although there was occasional lag with the animated movement. Inventory items all remain on the screen around the edges of the game play window, and running your cursor over them will result in a short description. To use them, just drag them to the relevant spot. Right click for the options screen, where you can tweak some settings and save and load. You can also automatically restart where you leave off.
One option lets you record your actions as you go and replay them if you wish. I didn't do this. Somewhat confusingly, the manual says that doing this does not "change" the state of the game, but does "affect" the state of the game. Your guess is as good as mine.
Being a dog is not to be sniffed at, and some of this day was a lot of fun. Some of it though, was much less than that.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2005.
All rights reserved.
Win 95, 486DX/2 66MHz processor or higher (Pentium recommended), 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), SVGA Graphics card (or better), Sound Card, 4 x CD ROM (faster recommended), Mouse.