Dogfight: A Sausage Bomber Story (not to be confused with Dogfight) is a horizontally-scrolling shoot ’em up from casual North Carolina coders, Katsu Games that, unusually for the genre, supports up to four players in local co-op and sees you, and your buddies, taking up the roles of bomber pilots who are defending their territory from the invasive Vega Nation.
The plot is thin and shows up by way of static cutscenes but essentially the gimmick here is that your main tool comes in the form of weaponised sausages. So expect a lot of sausage-based puns. It’s all very silly but it’s nice to see a shoot ’em up have a bit of personality as not many do.
In terms of the gameplay, Dogfight plays out like any shoot ’em up of this type. You fly right-wards (!?) through wave after wave of air-based enemies that’ll try to crash into you, ground-based foes that’ll attempt to shoot you out of the sky and bosses who punctuate the end of the game’s nine levels but also come back in later levels as mid-level bosses. Pretty standard stuff although there is an interesting, but underused, gimmick where you can turn your plane around to attack to the left (as you can see in the screenshot below).
Killing enemies provides a few benefits. Aside from clearing the skies and giving you points, they’ll also increase the speed of the game (if you’ve enabled the game’s ‘speedrun’ mode). A five-star rating system on each level reflects how many enemies you’ve taken out (with five stars only being awarded if you clear the entire stage). This can be very tricky but Dogfight does put the odds in your favour thanks to its very comprehensive weapons options.
Those stars that you earn will unlock new weapons allowing you to replace both your primary weapon (initially a forward facing gun) and secondary (initially a bomb made of sausage). Spread-fire, lasers, the obligatory useless shotgun, homing missiles, cluster bombs, a nuke. There are dozens of options for you to play with. Admittedly, once we discovered the wave gun and shuriken weapon, everything else didn’t seem as useful but it’s great to have so many options and it really helps with the replayability of the game as the various guns do give the game a different feel each time you use them.
There are four difficulty levels (named after hot sauce strengths because) and once we’d somewhat mastered the ‘mild’ difficulty (the second easiest), we were able to transition to ‘atomic’ (the hardest) quite easily. So you’ll probably have this game played out within a day or two but it’s definitely a fun couple of days. If you want a stiffer challenge, enabling speedrun mode will provide it, especially when it maxes the speed out to 160%.
In general we’ve not really got any complaints. The game felt solidly put together throughout, the humour was inoffensive but gave the game a nice feel, the cartoony visuals and stirring soundtrack gave a good energy to the gameplay (and the visuals remained clear throughout) and the four-player co-op is a nice option for some quick party game action. The only thing we’d have changed is to maybe beef up the challenge a little as Dogfight, even with its replayability, might be a short-lived experience for most players. We took around six hours to get the Platinum and now that we have, there’s not really much of a reason to go back and the controls were a tiny bit loose for our liking.
But the positives more than outweigh the minor negatives here and we’re always happy to play a fun shoot ’em up so we can recommend it, although £14.99 does feel a little steep for what you get.
+ Speedrunning mechanics are well considered
+ Lots of weapons to experiment with
+ Good, clean visual style
- Controls felt a little loose
- Maybe too easy for most shoot 'em up fans