If there’s one thing that almost everyone on this earth can unilaterally agree on, it’s dogs. Dogs are absolutely fantastic and we do not deserve them. No arguing. With that in mind, Pupperazzi, a new pup-snapping indie from Sundae Month and Kitfox Games, sounded like an absolute delight in theory. Unfortunately, Pupperazzi’s bark is better than its bite.
The premise of Pupperazzi is as simple as its punny name suggests; you are a dog photographer (pho…dographer?) and you’re tasked with taking snaps of lots of furry friends in exchange for money and clout, like Cruella Deville with an Instagram. The more followers you build up, the more things you can unlock with the game’s in-game currency, bonks – such as new filters for your camera, toys to entertain the dogs, or the ability to put them in silly hats and glasses.
Each level hands you a series of photography-based fetch quests (yeah I know) to complete, varying from snapping dogs engaged in various activities, or something random like chucking a hotdog into a lake. Every in-game day you can upload a select number of photos to DogNet, where you’ll gain followers based on the shots you share. If you share too many, it tells you off for spamming, as though there is a limit on the amount of dog images anyone can ever see. Not very realistic.
Pupperazzi doesn’t reward skill or precision particularly; I had a few instances of thinking I’d copped the greatest shot ever, only to find the game hadn’t registered it as part of the objective. Similar to Pokémon Go, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the composition, as long as the thing specified is vaguely in the frame. That also translated to the photos I uploaded to DogNet; I got more followers for a shit photo with a bit of ear in using a teal filter than an ace shot of a whole dog taken with the standard lens. That shouldn’t put you off trying to take a well-timed shot, but it did kill a lot of incentive to take it seriously.
Luckily, it wasn’t too hard to snag that amazing photo because most of the dogs will just hang around and wait for you to take it. That’s not a bad thing; the zen elements of Pupperazzi would soon be lost if getting the perfect shot relied on quick thinking. You’ve no got J. Jonah Jameson ringing up demanding pictures of a borzoi, you’re just here to vibe.
That said, it was difficult to vibe when navigating the objectives and your camera roll felt like a constant chore. Each mission requires an individual tick-off, and there’s no audio or visual indication that you’ve completed a task correctly without pausing to check. Inbetween slapping the menu button repeatedly and having to constantly delete photos because the game only lets you hold 10 at a time, I felt like I was battling the system rather than being enabled by it.
While the variation of dogs on offer was impressive and I had a lovely time collecting snaps of all of the different breeds, the lack of animation in the pups was disappointing. All of the dogs engaged in various activities, from zooming around on bikes to chasing frisbees, but every single one was trapped in its standard t-pose, as though the movement was meant to be added later. Dogs on skateboards, in playground swings, even laying down sleeping were all in identical standing positions, which drained a little bit of life from my pup snapping adventures. Filling up the Puppy Encyclopedia was good fun for a bit, revisiting each location just to clip a cute photo of a dalmatian or a pup in a specific neck tie pinged the collectathon neurons in my brain.
You can visit each location at different times of day which gives some flavour to the collecting, too. Each area has different weather, different dogs, and different objectives to complete. The levels are cute too, care has been taken to ensure that things are easy to find, but there’s lots of collectible items dotted around and things hidden in areas that require some light platforming or exploration too, which is pleasant. It’s a shame that for the most part, the only thing concealed on a Muttropolis rooftop or nestled inside a desert cave was just another t-posing canine in a silly outfit, and there’s no real incentive to go and find them.
Pupperazzi is a fine enough game, it doesn’t out stay its welcome and it doesn’t try to overcompensate for its own simplicity. You’re there to take fun photos of dogs, and there’s no right or wrong way to do that in a game as inoffensive as Pupperazzi. But I felt like I’d experienced everything it had to offer in the first level, and its lack of animation made everything feel a little hollow. Had it not been for a nice booklet of collectible dogs to spend my Saturday night filling out and clocking in at around three hours, I’d have struggled to get through it. Kicking this game feels like kicking an actual puppy; all it wanted to do was bring you love and all it did was end up pissing on your leg. Sometimes they’re not *all* good dogs, Brent. Sometimes they’re just alright.