Puzzle Puppers is a puzzle game that has you stretching hungry Shiba Inu to their food bowls. While the early levels may fool you into thinking the puzzles are too easy, the game does get quite tricky in the later levels. Puzzle Puppers features 80 levels with the unchanging goal of getting each dog to their bowl, with slight variations in how levels are made up. Different levels feature different obstacles such as tunnels that lead you to different parts of the stage or water rapids that automatically move your dog. The main challenge comes in trying to get all of the hams that are scattered in each stage. Levels feature a heart scoring system, collecting all the hams in a stage awards you with the highest score of three hearts.
Using the tried-and-true method of score-based puzzles leaves a lot to be desired. With such a unique premise, the gameplay feels too similar to the hundreds of other puzzlers that have come in the past. Playing in short bursts is what I’d recommend as the formula doesn’t change enough to try and power through all 80 stages. Whenever I got stuck on a puzzle I closed the game for a few hours and came back.
Puzzles near the beginning of the game only feature the terrain and nothing more, but later levels add obstacles as I touched upon earlier. Tunnels lead you to various parts of the level that are hard to predetermine where you’ll end up, meaning you have to be strategic if you want to get a high score. Water rapids have your dog automatically stretch to the end of the waterway The hardest obstacle in the game are the puzzles that require you to use one dog to block another in order to move in a certain position. These puzzles took me the longest time to beat and offered a relatively enjoyable difficulty to an otherwise simple puzzler.
While the graphics don’t reinvent the wheel, Puzzle Puppers does feature a delightfully colorful cel-shaded art style reminiscent of Windwaker. The camera is positioned in an isometric perspective over the same body of water throughout the game. Don’t expect much variation between levels as the only thing changing is the shape of the land above the water. The Shiba Inu are animated quite well, they’ll shake around and droll while you’re thinking of your next move. While I do like the overall look of the game, I would have vastly preferred variety in the stage locale. Having a different backdrop to look at while soving puzzles would have added to a lot to the production value of the game, as staring at an empty mass of water got boring fast.
My biggest gripe with Puzzle Puppers would be the single piece of music that comes packaged in the game. There is only one looped song that plays through the entire 80 levels and after the first 10 I almost couldn’t stand it anymore. The rest of the games sound consists of barking and chewing, which I suppose should be expected in a game about dogs. If there was one thing I would personally ask the developers to add in a future update- it would be to toss in at least a handful of extra songs to the game
Puzzle Puppers is an overall decent puzzler for what it offers. While it plays it safe and doesn’t innovate in any way, it still offers a decent pick up and play experience that’ll quell a desire for some simple puzzle solving. With a cute art style and an interesting premise I wish had been expanded upon I would recommend it at the asking price of $4.99 on Steam. I’d also recommend muting the in-game music and playing something from your own playlist, as the nauseating loop that the game offers is quite off putting. Maybe someday in the future we’ll see this idea of dog-based puzzling expanded upon and implemented in a more unique puzzle game.
Release Date - January 20, 2017
Special thanks to Cardboard Keep for providing a review code