Wobbledogs: Console Edition comes to us on PS4 from developer Animal Uprising and publisher Secret Mode (aka Sumo Digital’s publishing arm), having released on Steam in March last year. This reviewer decided to have a go as our kid seemed to have enjoyed it on PC. At least until he went back to Slime Rancher or Geometry Dash anyway.
The bag of a napkin precis for Wobbledogs is that it’s a casual relaxed dog breeding simulator. The various different traits are unlocked via gut flora. That is, whatever your dog eats, that affects their traits when they mutate. Yes, they mutate. Rather than growing old in a gradual manner, your dog’s life can be measured in a matter of minutes.
Their lives begin by hatching from a cocoon, rather like the Very Hungry Caterpillar in Eric Carle’s classic children’s book. Shut up, our kid loved it when he was younger. It’s an apt comparison as these dogs will eat virtually anything if you encourage them to do so. In fact they’ll eat most objects in the game barring furniture, toys and plants.
After a short tutorial you’re left to get on with it for the most part and that’s just fine. At the outset you’re limited to just four hounds, but that’s plenty to be getting on with as you learn the ropes proper. Think of it as going for a drive on quiet roads after having passed your driving test, just to get used to the handling of your car.
Your dogs have three primary needs, they being hunger, tiredness and play. It’s important to keep on top of these, especially if you end up with a sickly runt as we did who simply had no impetus to eat. The key to all of these is via positive reinforcement, though most of your dogs will happily cavort around left to their own devices. You’ll only have one food vending machine at the outset, though the dogs will helpfully tap the button to get food themselves. After a while you’ll unlock extra machine types and hence extra traits from the foods. Pancakes make for flat dogs for example or french fries make for spindly legged dogs.
Due to their predilection to eat whatever’s laying around, be it poop, clumps of mud, or somewhat macabrely, deceased dogs body parts, you’ll still need to keep a general eye on them. Otherwise you could return to a single dog eating the remains of your sadly departed hounds. You see, each dog has a distinct lifecycle from puppy through to adult. As your dogs age, they’ll go through one of the five stages, moving to each with a pupation stage. It’s a bit odd, but it makes sense in context.
It’s at this point that whatever you’ve fed them leads to mutations, be it long legs, flat body, super chonkiness or just no particular discernible changes. The fun really starts when you use the breeding lab. This simulates what offspring breeding two of your adults will yield, retaining traits of each and as you go deeper into the simulation, recessive mutations. Like extra legs, multiple tails or another head. It’s these weirder mutations that are by far the hardest to unlock.
As your dogs age, as well as dog eggs in the usual sense, they eject actual eggs too. These are needed for using the breeding simulation and making your simulated offspring corporeal. Unless you go crazy breeding, you won’t have supply issues anyway. You can spawn dogs without any mutations too if you wish. It’s an easy way to get back up to speed if you leave your game unattended and find all your dogs have pegged out. It’s a mistake you’ll only make once anyway.
In the early stages, Wobbledogs showers you with trophies. This unlocks new foodstuffs for you to feed your canine chums as well as extra habitat spaces. Though you’ll soon hit the hard cap of ten dogs total. It’s a manageable amount at least. You can also set up tunnels between your habitats though we found this made trying to make a particular mutation tougher as dogs could come and go as they pleased. We found we had better results by making a landlocked habitat and concentrating on a particular trait with a couple of dogs instead. As we said earlier though, to get the rarer recessive genes needs a bit of luck in the breeding sim.
Since this is the console edition, there’s a few disparities with the PC version. For example, while you can keep dogs well beyond their usual age cap, there’s no associated trophy as there is a Steam achievement. PC users also got the ability to export their dogs and share them with others, that feature has also gone.
This does a great job in terms of depicting pet mortality and we grew genuinely fond of a few of our dogs prior to their pegging out. It never comes across mawkish, more matter of fact. If it helps even one kid cope with the death of a hamster, then we’re all for it. Our then seven-year-old was distraught when his hamster pegged out inside eighteen months. Though unlike the usual ignominious bottom of the garden burial given to small rodents, when a dog dies in Wobbledogs, once their torso has been eaten, a core is left behind. This is the essence of your sadly departed dog and you can either choose to erect a small gravestone for them or crack open the core. The primary use for this is to extend the life of adult dogs into the ancient geriatric stage.
Wobbledogs is a perfect podcast game if we’re honest. The music is very chill but pretty unintrusive too. Before you know it you’ll have racked up multiple hours as we have and you may even pop the ten hours played trophy too. Didn’t take us that long, put it that way. It helps that your canine charges are pretty endearing, even when they go full derp. Heck, if not moreso.
In conclusion, we really liked Wobbledogs and we never really tired of seeing our daft canines ambling around the place. Even if they were basically idiots that forgot how to eat or preferred eating other dogs crap rather than actual food. The only real gripe we have is down to the fact that some of the more unusual mutations feel a little too prone to chance.
+ A dog with multiple tails and extra legs is ace
+ Does a great job of depicting pets finite lifespans
+ Almost educational in terms of simplifying selective breeding concepts
- Can be a huge timesink without anything much going on
- After the initial flurry of progress, it can feel progress is glacial
- Ten dog cap can feel restrictive