12 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 4.3 hrs on record
Posted: Oct 30, 2019 @ 6:55pm
Updated: Oct 30, 2019 @ 6:55pm
Product received for free

Early Access Review
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Dog Duty is a top-down isometric small team action game that feels like it had some old-school inspirations from the Commandos games in that it has some real-time tactics and separated into the smaller missions even though the map is fairly open and accessible with the several vehicles in-game.

Let me be clear and up front about this game, this game is not for everyone because it gets really difficult in unexpected places. It also doesn't have great balance at places, and this potentially will cause great frustration for the player. The strategy/tactics component is fairly weak, as the game tries to overwhelm you with an ever-increasing number of enemies (they don't stop coming at a steady pace once you enter a mission) and this still bothers me a great deal.

This game is definitely not one that's very fun from the very beginning, when you are dumped into the introductory map with one character, and your goal is to go rescue the two others that will then make up your default team. The movement for each character, yours and the enemies are fairly predictable, and attacking patterns are proximity/sight based and predictable. You will find yourself using guerrilla warfare to lure out enemies and take them out when they are blindsided, especially when you have a gunman at a deadly turret around the corner.

My impressions at first of the game was not very positive, because there's basically little to no hand-holding, you are thrown into the start and you just need to make your way through, gather your team and then take on the main game. This is also a traditional style of game where you just need to learn by trial and error, with expectations to fail often. Then by the time I spent about 2 hours with the game, I had begun to like it a lot more, though some of the in-game frustrations is dampening my moods a bit now I am about 4 hours in and feeling like I am perpetually stuck because of what I perceive to be a balance issue.

You have a team of 3 people that you take on a mission, each with a special ability and an equipped weapon. They fire at will and when enemies are in sight, in addition, you have active items that you can use at any time during combat.

The overall mechanics is fairly straight forward, and the missions tell you what you need to do to succeed with little icons in the top left corner and you just need to access all of the enemy materials stash, or destroy all of their satellite towers, boats, vehicles, etc, and kill every enemy that's present to win. There are three POW camp missions in the game that will each give you one more team member, but you can deploy only 3 at a time (interchangeable at any General Store).

There are three different types of terrain that you are navigating on the main map, you drive on solid land in your truck, and you navigate the waterways and swamps with the boat and the hovercraft, respectively. In between missions you will encounter groups of enemies in passing that will be really easy at times and completely overpowered at others. These smaller encounters will always yield you $100 to use at the store to make purchases, such as turrets for your vehicles, new weapons or other active items that you can use during the missions. You will also occasionally see a money coin pop up after an enemy dies, these will each give you $50 if you use a character and walk over the coin while it is still there on the ground.

To see the appearances of this game from the very beginning as well as some music and sound effects, you can see my first-look video here:
https://youtu.be/yTDqEwW3yOg

In addition, I have encountered a number of bugs and offered up some suggestions to the developer for possible improvements, you can read about them here:
https://steamcommunity.com/app/578690/discussions/0/1640926712931574346/

This is one of those games that's quite fun to play, although for a lot of people, it will be extremely difficult to look past its rough edges.

Controls
Can play with controller, I mainly played with the mouse with use of a few simple shortcuts on the keyboard.

Graphics
Retro-style with fixed camera angles and limited zooming in and out. The pixel heavy nature didn't seem to be detrimental to the game. It highlighted that this game has some traditional gaming aesthetic and also gameplay to match.

Music
Nothing too exciting, often cuts out by itself in the middle of missions, though usually I was not paying too mention attention to the music. The sound effects also are a bit repetitive.

Audience
Niche game with likely a very specialized audience who want to have a difficult game with a retro-appearance and feel.

Pricing
Base price is $9.99 US is pretty reasonable. This game is still in Early Access, so it is unclear what the final price will be.

Conclusion
Dog Duty is a fairly fun action game with real-time tactics using a team of three characters. It's one of those games that you either will warm up to and enjoy it more or you will just not have a good time at all. Even though I am giving it a heads up, it definitely could use quite a few areas of improvement, in my opinion, so I hope to see a few QoL improvements and rebalancing before the full release.

Score: 6.5/10

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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Developer response:
Octopus Commander  [developer] Posted: Nov 14, 2019 @ 12:09pm
Thanks for the careful review! Just a brief question, QoL stands for quality of life, right? What type of quality-of-life improvements you would like to see on the game?

Thanks again!
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3 Comments
Octopus Commander  [developer] Nov 15, 2019 @ 5:11am 
Ah, of course! Silly me. Thanks for the reminder!
Point 6 is something I'm working deeply to make it really meaningful.
YQMaoski Nov 14, 2019 @ 1:35pm 
Hi Octopus Commander, the main things I noticed I had written in the forum post, with the link here and also in the review:
https://steamcommunity.com/app/578690/discussions/0/1640926712931574346/

Octopus Commander  [developer] Nov 14, 2019 @ 12:10pm 
There was an error sending a developer response, so I will briefly ask the main point here:
what kind of QoL improvements you would like to see? I'm sketching the last patch goals right now.