Almost everyone I know has, at one point in their lives, had a pet dog. It's one of those things a person has to experience; it makes for a wonderful point of conversation for most people. One can go on and on about their favorite breed of dog, what their most fond memories of their lovable pet are and so on. There is just something magical about coming home from a long tiring day to find out that your dog is more than happy to see you, with its tail wagging with delight. A childhood innocence comes out from you, and you can't but show appreciation for such a loyal companion.
Dreamzer Games have caught on with this passion for dogs and have created Dogzer, a free-to-play browser game that allows players to adopt, raise and take care of various breeds of dogs. Dreamzer Games is the same company that developed Horzer, Lionzer, Oceanzer and a slew of animal-based browser games that taps gamers' love for animals. Does this game live up to the expectation for our love of our canine friends? Let's find out in our Dogzer Review!
Kindly Check the House Rules
A wall of "too-long-didn't-read" text greets gamers who want to explore this game first before registering. There are ten topics that players can read through should they choose to go on with the tour of the site. This guided tour of the game explains in detail what is expected once the game starts. This wall of text falls flat as it feels like I'm researching for a game, rather than actually playing it; it would have been better if the whole premise of the game, along with its apparently multiple facets, was presented as the gamers are playing it, as with most browser-based MMOs nowadays, so that it doesn't get boring and static.
Where Are You Boy? No, Seriously...
Once registered, Players can visit the main screen of the game. Dogzer's homepage is reminiscent of a social network site. There is a lot of stuff going on - a news feed that provides information about dog-related events, a forum where people discuss their favorite dog breeds, and your own profile where you can play with your dog.
Navigating the site takes a while to get used to, and the flow of the site feels a bit clunky; it's as if I stumbled upon a wrong website because it doesn't look like you can play anything here. Unadventurous gamers might be turned off by the layout and not explore the site any further.
An Old Dog in a New World
After getting the hang of the main page, players can choose what breed of dog they want to raise. The types of dogs range from small, toy dogs like Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus and Terriers, to bigger ones like German Shepherds, Huskies and Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs (the last one just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?). Each player starts with the puppy version of the dog breed of they chose and as the game progresses, your puppy slowly gets bigger, and there is a noticeable change.
Dogzer's graphics, however, are pedestrian and mundane. The dog designs, while accurate, are not articulate. One would assume that the dogs in this game are at least animated, sadly they are not; they are literally just cut-out pictures of dogs that you can move around the available space within the browser with your mouse. The dogs and the stuff you bought for it are located in the said space and can be moved and arranged in the way one can organize bullet points and clip arts in MS Powerpoint or Paint (yes, Paint). While it was amusing at first, as the game wears on, it loses its novelty real fast.
Go, Boy, Fetch!
Players are given a variety of options to take care and improve their dog's overall well-being. In this game, your dog can be leveled up, and one can do so by training its speed, agility, jumping, and sense of smell, retrieving and its capacity to be trained. Each criterion can be leveled up by selecting a specific activity such as playing Frisbee, taking your dog out for a jog, and the like.
Choosing the different activities needs some forethought, though, because they take away your dog's energy, health, and cleanliness meters. The energy meter can be replenished by feeding your dog, having it take a nap and by letting it drink water; the health meter is reliant on the player feeding and giving your dog medicine; the cleanliness meter can be refilled by patting your dog, brushing and have take baths. Among these three meters, the energy meter depletes the fastest, as any kind of activity you’d have your dog do would have it go down. Maintaining these meters is crucial, as the available activities and the overall health of your dog rely on it; usually laying out a daily schedule consisting of specific activities, training, grooming and feeding for your dog would ensure that your dog is clean, happy, and healthy.
Training your dog to level up is a gamble due to the fact that your dog can get a number of complications such as an injury, fleas, attacking a random bystander which lowers its mood, and so on. But sometimes your dog can give you some free stuff that you can use to further increase your dog's breeding. It is up to the dog owners if they want to risk having their dogs get hurt, but be that much closer to leveling them up.
Regarding the gameplay, the premise looks simple enough, but its execution leaves a lot to be desired. The player can indeed choose what action he can do in order to interact with his dog, but the options have a limit and some selections cannot be used more than twice. This proves frustrating as the game constricts the players to have full control in taking care and training their dogs; if you’re itching to level a certain criterion of your dog, you have to plan your training, otherwise you might exhaust your dog, and in doing so, would deplete its energy and health meters which is not a good thing to do.
The game sometimes rewards players with animated (if you consider your cropped dog in a bleak, ordinary background animated) cutscenes for some of the actions they pick; it's a random action and most of the time the cutscene is not even related to the command the gamers chose. This is the closest thing one can get to actually see and interact with their dogs, but after seeing few of these, it gets tedious and repetitive; one would just opt to do away with this as it only slows down the game.
This One's for the Dog Lovers
As stated in its guided tour, the main purpose of Dogzer is to breed the best dogs possible and to be able to share it with other players. Knowing that there is a significant number of people who love dogs, Dogzer wanted to capitalize on that market. But their ambition seems to be too big, as the game tried to feature too many things that even casual dog lovers might veer away from.
Things such as registering for a kennel club for your dog, participating in dog shows, and earning a certificate of ownership seem to be overwhelming and tiresome, even for casual gamers. Information is given as a wall of text and it kills the allure of playing the game from the beginning. It would have been better if the presentation of the said modes were less wordy and text-driven, or at least be easier to digest. Players’ dogs also need to reach a certain age before they can be registered, which is a bummer. For those die-hard dog breeders, this game might be right up their alley, but for the rest of the gamers who just want a game about raising dogs, it would be best to look for another game.
If Dogzer was designed to be a social networking site for dog lovers, which it kind of is, then it has done its part; it would have been better if it chose that path. But Dogzers is first and foremost a game, and it plays like a dated browser game that takes itself too seriously and has too many things going on for its own good.
Dogzer has the potential to be a good game, with a big demographic and a fun topic to work with. Unfortunately, the game looks more of a social network site rather than an MMO game. The gaming portion feels rushed, and has too many things happening that instead of providing a game with decent enough graphics, interactivity with the players and their dogs as well as easy-to-learn controls, what we got is a text-based game in a platform that boasts other games that are more aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. One is better off looking for other games and let this one stay in the pound.