The developer of Herding Dog (named Join the Pack on mobile) is Xixgames, and their publisher Black Shell Media were kind enough to give us a review copy on Steam for Herding Dog. It just looked so adorable that we couldn’t pass this one up for a look. This game isn’t the type for spoilers, so that won’t be a problem in this article.
In Herding Dog you are unsurpsingly a herding dog on a farm (a weird farm that has a beach, spheres flying around, and UFOs). You herd pigs, cows, sheep, and chickens while also chasing off foxes, wolves, and occasionally UFOs. It’s your typical casual game meant for play when you’re either bored or maybe waiting somewhere — that is if it were on mobile. This game is something better suited for a tablet or smartphone, not for desktop or laptop. The graphics leave something to be desired, but I suppose that’s the point as there are plenty of other indie games with the same sort of little effort art style.
Sadly, Herding Dog is also buggy. It’s been out for a month now, and the wolves and foxes still fall off the map, and cows get stuck on fences. The music is very lighthearted and bouncy, which is enjoyable and it makes it hard to hate this game too much.
The story is very basic. You’re a dog on a farm who is herding animals for your apparently sick owner. There’s not much else to it, though there might not be much needed in a game like this.
The overall gameplay is decent enough. I had fun in my time with it, but after playing it for longer than about 20 minutes I became agitated with the repetitive and tedious nature of it. Not to mention the angle of the camera and how it moved triggered my vertigo something fierce. I could chalk that up to my inner ear problems, but I may not be the only one hit by this. The animals fart when you bark at them, which the game doesn’t tell you how to bark til around the third level, and they run faster. However some animals were slower, and it would become boring to bark a cow from one side of the map to the other.
The framerate is fine, and the art style is… unique. I don’t care for it, but it’s the type of style that is expected with an indie company. However, I do like the adorable little square pigs. Parts of the map also remind me of a neat book I had as a child, mostly it’s the texture of the ground that looks like corduroy. Some of the animals and objects around the map will phase through other things. I watched a cactus phase through another cactus once. It was surreal. Not to mention when a fox or a wolf would fall off the map.
Somehow the animal was able to climb back onto the map the first time but not the second time, which was weird. Let’s not forget the cow merging into a fence to become a monorail.
Later in the game this isn’t a problem, but in earlier levels it’s difficult to tell when you’re about to hit a wall when looking for where the base of a hill starts so you can hop up on there. There are times where you will see the dog through the hill, but he’s all gray to indicate that he is behind a wall, and I wish they had done that for all the walls you hit.
There are also times in game where you will get all of the farm animals together, and collect all of the items, and the game says there’s more animals to collect but there just aren’t. You scour the map for more, but there aren’t anymore. It doesn’t even work to let the wolf/fox eat some of the animals. So you have to either just give up or keep resetting the game. Because the levels are sometimes different, you just reload til you get a scenario that isn’t bugged.
Another problem I ran into was that the arrows leading you to your next objective leads you to an empty space in the map, and you have to reload it again. Also, at times the animals would run to the corners and fences and it would be incredibly irritating to get them away from that area.
All these negatives aside, it’s cute and simple and I could see my seven year old brothers enjoying it on their tablets, since I could see it being better suited as a mobile game.
The music is cute, light, and upbeat. However it loops and it’s fairly short. So after a while you end up turning the music off unless you really dig the repetitive nature of the jaunty tunes.
Maybe you or your kids want a nice little game to run around in as a dog and bark at things. This could be a very good game for that. I was actually rather disappointed. Maybe it was my age, as I am 20. Perhaps a child could enjoy it better. It’s cute but not to the level I expected and it wasn’t at all what I hoped for. It’s billed as a casual game, so there isn’t too much you can really expect, I suppose.
I personally wouldn’t buy this. But hey, it is only around two dollars. Maybe I would on a whim if I was bored.