Describing Animal Uprising’s debut title Wobbledogs would be like comparing it to an LSD trip, the main differences being that Wobbledogs is legal, safe, and definitely cheaper. Now I’ve never compared a videogame to dangerous substances before, but this absolute fever dream about engineering the perfect pupper is up there with games like I Am Bread and Katamari Damacy REROLL in terms of being in a genre of its own.
You’re introduced into this insane world with a quick tutorial teaching you the basics of the game; from then on it’s up to you on how you want to play! There is no set path or narrative to follow, just your ever-expanding army of unsteady dogs and customisable pens in which to house them.
The basic premise of Wobbledogs is actually fairly simple: keep them happy, and feed the bendy-legged canines a variety of treats and watch them grow, or as the game calls it, mutate! Each food item provides different flora for their guts, with each dog having a sort of “internal stomach camera” on the heads-up display, to give you an idea of what that particular dog has eaten, and what it could potentially mutate into. The mutations themselves are certainly not what I was expecting: the dogs will cocoon themselves on the ceiling in order to age and mutate. Utter madness, and I mean that as a compliment!
Each wobbledog also has their own thoughts that appear as thought bubbles above them when you tell them to do something like sit, or eat. It’s almost overwhelmingly cute to see “I’m trying my best to eat french fries!” as they bounce around on spindly legs towards the snack.
Early on, the majority of your dogs will look fairly similar, but as you unlock more food items to experiment with, everything about the dogs can and will change. Body length, width, colour, and more are all generated based on what that dog has been fed, often ending up with some genuinely funny results. For example, one of my earlier dogs’ front legs continued to shrink whenever they mutated, causing them to have a tough time walking around the pens, often ending up face planting the floor! Thankfully, you can pick anything up — the dogs included — to zip them to their destination. Don’t worry, the dogs don’t mind being ragdolled about; their bodies look like they’re made from a sweet chew bar and are similarly indestructible.
Indestructible yes, but immortal they are not. Succumbing to old age happens to us all, even these strange entities known as wobbledogs. Death is not the end for these doggos however, as the other dogs can eat their remains — it’s honestly not as gross as it sounds — to inherit the traits of the pet-turned-snack. It’s all done in a relatively light-hearted way, so anyone who has felt the loss of a pet won’t be too shaken up by this.
So how does Wobbledogs stop the player from becoming bored quickly if there’s no end goal? Well aside from just sitting back and watching these physics-based animals do their own thing (similar to The Sims but with less fires and neglect), you’re given a constant stream of rewards and unlockables from doing just about anything in the game. The in-game trophy system nets you a cool new prize for each task accomplished, starting small with things like seed packets to grow your own flowers with or decorations to brighten the place up, to brand new rooms or toys to keep your dogs happy.
You can also breed new dogs (which is done via an ancient dog statue coming to life and slamming the two selected dogs together over an egg. No, really), which will in turn inherit some characteristics of each parent to create something twice as amusing. There are no gender restrictions in Wobbledogs, if you have two animals getting to old age and want to keep their traits going into the next generation, well you best get making that egg! Literally. It is a literal giant egg produced from a machine that they hatch out of.
I can only compare the look of Wobbledogs to someone upending a toy box full of random toys from the 90s all over the floor of a children’s indoor playground. Its colourful, plastic look made me long for the days of being able to zoom down tube slides (which the dogs will frequently do to traverse the rooms) and dive into foam ball pits. There is such a wide variety of items to decorate your pens with, from building blocks to walls of cheese, everything is fully customisable for you to be able to create a haven for these mutant mutts. I decided to have a theme for each room: one room was an outdoor space, with a grass floor and clear blue sky for the walls, another a space station (complete with edible space food!) full of toys to throw around.
I would wholeheartedly recommend Wobbledogs to anyone. Having a bad day and need something to put a smile on your face? Play Wobbledogs. Want a game that’ll reduce your anxiety? Wobbledogs. There is constantly something new to see, or do, and every second of it will have you grinning from ear to ear. Trust me when I say it’s best to experience this game for yourself, a unique experience and one of my favourite titles of the year so far.
Wobbledogs (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Wobbledogs makes me feel warm inside; its incredibly charming insanity is so endearing and enjoyable that I cannot recommend it enough. Mutating dogs has never been more fun!