With a name like Dog Duty, it might be easy to confuse it with a host of games that have to do with combat with the word “Dog” in the title. What mentally separated this game from the others in my mind, is publisher Soedesco’s indication that this game is “Commandos inspired.” As a fan of Commandos and GOTY-tier Commandos clones, I looked forward to checking out the workings of an apparently two-person development team, Zandari and Liza. Please note that the version of Dog Duty featured in this preview is an Early Access build currently available on Steam.
The premise is simple for a relatively simple game. A group of mercs are on a mission to dispatch the evil Octopus Commander, but he strikes first, shooting down their helicopter. Far Cry (5) style, the mercs are now trapped within hostile territory, and will need to fight their way out to survive. Perhaps the first thing to do is free imprisoned squadmates.
No, scratch that, because War Dogs utilizes a GTA-style rating system with stars indicating difficulty. If players try to address any objectives before destroying enemy outposts, all other locations will be constantly flooded with reinforcements. The more stars, the more backup will arrive. Hitting up the POW camps to save squadmates first is not the best of ideas.
Before sitting down to write this preview, I rescued all but one merc. The names may not mean much now, but the possibilities for a squad include a medic, a heavy gunner, a marks(wo)man, a sniper, a skirmisher, an engineer, and a…psychopath? Each comes equipped with a unique ability that can be activated in between cooldowns. As of this writing, I feel as though there is no reason to use anyone besides Kilmer, Paula, and Madness; this is because of Madness’ super-low cooldown ability instantly refreshes his allies’ abilities, such as the long cooldowns of Kilmer’s heal and Paula’s shield barrier. Between the heal and shield, I can brute force my way through Dog Duty—no real strategy necessary besides respecting Madness’ cooldown. Perhaps further balancing will make other characters viable.
So far, I have enjoyed my time with Dog Duty. Its combination of pixels and voxel graphics usher in a fresh look combined with a nostalgic feel. The animations of the enemies, the speed of the bullets on-screen, and even the bosses strongly remind me of Metal Slug. Some polish will be necessary, though. I sometimes had to quit to the main menu to get a white filter off the screen. Other times, after capturing a territory, the game would freeze, prompting me to exit to the main menu again—thank goodness for a generous save and checkpoint system! These issues aside, I think that Dog Duty has the potential to live up to the game from which it is inspired.