Herding Dog Review

Cate is here with a review of the casual game Herding Dog from Xixgames and Black Shell Media


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.

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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.

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Screenshot (299)

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.

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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.

Screenshot (297)
Nothing too bad about all of this in my opinion.

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.

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The old­est 12 year old. Also buy my mix­tape at http://supernerdland.tumblr.com/

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