If you're a pet owner, you've been there before. You've gone through the phase where you can't help but want to take as many pictures of your furry little loved one as possible. We recognize that here at Shacknews. Heck, we centered an app around it. (Shackpets! Download it today!) That's why we were immediately drawn into the premise for Pupperazzi from Kitfox Games. Taking pictures of dogs? We're so in! In practice, it proves to be a relaxing, if slightly limited, experience.
The main idea of Pupperazzi, as implied by the title, is to take photos of dogs that are wandering about all over the game's world. It's almost overwhelming how many different types of dogs there are, as players are presented with dozens of different breeds, as well as dogs that are dressed up or playing around.
Pupperazzi tasks players with completing various photography-based objectives, such as snapping a picture with a certain lens or catching a specific dog doing a certain activity. This helps players increase their social media follower count and helps unlock new items in the shop, like additional lenses, extra rolls of film, and different photo filters.
Completing objectives also unlocks new locations, though there aren't a lot of them. There are five maps total, so much of the unlocks center around unlocking these areas at different times of the day. Even then, there isn't much noticeable difference between the boardwalk in the morning and the boardwalk at night, other than a nice change in background. As nice as it is to have a large selection of photography subjects, more venues could have gone a long way towards extending the fun.
Bark to basics
Among the games that inspired Pupperazzi is Pokemon Snap and like the 1999 classic, it feels noticeably short. In terms of objectives and unlockables, you can pick everything up in just a few hours. The fun is in exploration, finding different dogs, changing up lenses or even dog outfits, and experimenting with taking pictures at different angles and locations. The game is also helped by granting freedom of movement and eschewing limiting mechanics, such as timers and the like. Players are welcome to approach this game at their leisure for however long they want and, for this type of game, that means a lot.
However, there's something about Pupperazzi that left me wanting. While I understand that it's an indie project and there are limitations that go with that, I couldn't help but notice that some of the dogs were missing an intangible spark. Within the first few minutes, I noticed that the dogs were all bouncing around in the same way, like a kid playing with an action figure. Many of them had static expressions on their face, making them come across as lifeless. I wasn't looking for total realism, but I had hoped for something a little more animated. Part of that might be the fact that the main character is a giant anthropomorphic camera, which is something I wasn't aware of until after I unlocked the selfie angle, but something felt off about the interactions with these dogs. On the plus side, at least I could pet each and every one of them, because even if they aren't the most expressive doggos, they're all still very good boys and girls. Yes they are.
The other element of Pupperazzi that didn't hit me the right way was that there was no real incentive to take better pictures. Your photos are never scored or evaluated, but merely judged by whether they technically fit the criteria of a specific objective. Therefore, there's no real reason to try and improve as a photographer in any way. After a while, I just stopped trying to take good pictures and just settled into messing around with the world.
Doggie day camp
There's a lot to love about Pupperazzi, starting with its basic concept. Who doesn't want to live in a world where all they do is pet doggos and take their picture all day? That sounds like doggie heaven. Unfortunately, there's not enough lasting appeal to keep me coming back, whether it's because of the way the dogs are animated, the small number of locations, or the lack of incentive to really do anything.
I'll throw Kitfox Games and Sundae Month a bone in this sense. Gaming needs more wholesome experiences like this and I'm glad Pupperazzi exists. If the team revisits this concept in the future, I'm excited for what it's capable of delivering. For now, I'll just look at this game as a ruff draft of something potentially greater.
This review is based on a Steam digital code provided by the publisher. Pupperazzi is available now on PC (via Steam and the Epic Games Store) and Xbox for $19.99 USD. The game is rated E.
- Good doggos as far as the eye can see
- Numerous filter and lens options
- Pressure-free environment
- Dog animations look rough
- Few locations
- Little incentive to complete most of the game's objectives
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Pupperazzi review: Barker! Get me pictures of dogs!
Dog animations look *ruff