BftP – DOGDAY

Every dog has its day. That line was far too obvious a choice here.

DogDay is just… well, it’s friggin’ WEIRD. I don’t even know how to begin describing the game because it barely makes any sense at all. Dogday was developed by Eyst Pty Ltd, an Australian developer (que bogan chanting) that never really did much else, at least as far as I know. As far as I know, DogDay and another game called Wartorn (2000) were the only games that they ever developed. DogDay was released in 1996 or 1997, I’m not sure which, published by Impact Interactive. It’s a point and click adventure game using pre-rendered 3D graphics which… well, remind us of how far realtime rendering has come, to put it bluntly. There’s pretty much no way at all to understand what the game is about unless you read the manual, so here’s the storyline, such as it is:

You’re dropped into a bit of a dystopian world, inhabited by humanoid dogs, hence the title. The town is ruled by Chegga, a totalitarian, authoritarian arsehole who crushes any sort of deviation from the absolute using his bootheel. Chew toy prices are up, meat rations are down, public urination is an offence (except for law enforcement officers) and troublesome journalists are imprisoned and somehow die in prison (apparently by committing suicide, but I doubt it). Your job is to help CATS (Coalition Against Totalitarian Society) to expose Chegga and bring him down. From here you’re pretty much on your own. I think part of the backstory was that Chegga tried to have you assassinated, but I have no idea where the manual is these days and there’s precious little information about the game online.

Like many adventure games from the era, DogDay relies on a bit of unintuitive problem solving. Some possibilities aren’t immediately obvious and arise mostly from random trial and error. One absolutely annoying part of the game though is the arcade, which requires you to earn high scores on three games (clones of Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Asteroids) to win items that you’ll need later on. Although the clerk in the booth at the Arcade has a sign behind him saying “Get a high score and win a prize” and a bum in an alley gives you a ticket for 5 free tokens, there’s pretty much nothing to suggest that you need to earn all 3 high scores. Hell, your 2nd high score gets you absolutely nothing! Only your 1st and 3rd high scores are worth prizes, which are essential to the game’s progression.

There’s also a massive sewer maze, which is pretty much a colossal pain in the arse, and I have no idea how long it would take you to play through it if you didn’t have a walkthrough. I can think of one other game which had a friggin’ huge maze and was an adventure game: Entombed. I never made it past that maze because after the first floor I’d had enough. Then again I suppose these elements were a bit more tolerated back then, where-as today we just proclaim them to be “filler” and rant and rave about them.

Eyst apparently ended up developing a game for Virgin Interactive, but something went wrong and they ended up getting shafted, or so I’ve been told. That could be a load of bullshit, I wouldn’t know, because Eyst existed in a time when the Internet was still fairly young, so there’s not a lot of information about them. DogDay was fairly forgettable and had a lot of flaws, most notably in its story telling, which was pretty much absent for most of the game. It was released in an era when point and click adventure games were still alive and kicking on the Windows platform, but as we all know this was the beginning of the end as FPS games had already started their implacable march to gaming dominance some 4 or so years prior to DogDay’s release. What makes DogDay unique though is its setting; it was very bleak, dark, and managed to convey a sense of hopelessness. You have no idea what the hell is going on, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere. It’s just weird, and that keeps you playing. Up until the Arcade, at least.

DogDay is very difficult to find, whether legally or not. I think that Amazon has some used copies, but outside of that I don’t know where you’d find it, legally or otherwise. I can’t even say that the game has a cult following, because pretty much nobody remembers it. If you do get a copy, it’s impossible to run on x64 systems, but generally plays nice with Windows XP or below. These days I play it in a Win98 virtual machine, though it only allows 256 colours for some unknown reason.

Advertisements