Metal Dogs Review
Go West, Young Pup
Back in October, I bought Metal Dogs, the canine spin-off to Kadokawa Games’ Metal Max series, on Steam in its Early Access version. I should have done an impression then, but there were some technical difficulties. On my end, my laptop couldn’t cope with the number of moving parts on screen after the first few missions, leading to dramatic drops in frame rate. On the game’s end, it never did accept my game controller peripheral, so I had to make do with the keyboard controls. The full PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch releases for Metal Dogs hit shelves in Japan on April 8, 2022, and I was still intrigued enough with it to pick up a copy for myself. With the aforementioned issues not applying to my physical Switch copy, I was able to play it all the way to completion.
Metal Dogs is not a complicated game, and neither does it have a complicated premise. The hero of the story is Pochi, Man’s Best Kick-Ass Good Boy, who is on his way west for reasons unknown. He has the misfortune of running afoul of a large number of armored tank drones, with sadly predictable consequences, but his limp and unresponsive form is found by Dr. Mortis, a frequent fixture of the series who is now down on his luck. Mortis’s town in the wasteland is defunct: He’s the only survivor, and not for long, as a metallo-organic virus slowly eats away his humanity. Pochi’s arrival gives the doctor a new lease on life, however, and with the man’s assistance the doggy hero can utilize the town facilities to re-arm, reload, and return to the fray.
The path lies forever west, through giant ant nests, blasted weapon depots, mutated forests, abandoned parking complexes, and collapsed office buildings. Pochi soon finds more help in the forms of Belle the Doberman and Bonanza the Bulldog, who have also heard the westward call. The three canines have different stat balances, mostly relating to their running speeds. For everything else, there are the guns.
The majority of this game is spent running around as a cute dog and blasting to pieces everything that moves and some things that don’t. To that end, the dogs can equip small arms like machine guns, larger arms like cannons, and special arms that fire missiles or deal fire, frost, or electrical damage. It’s similar to the tank loadouts in the standard Metal Max games, though without some of the weirder varieties. Different weapon types have different magazine capacities, as well as differing reload times for when the ammo is replenishing, so it’s wise to vary up the loadout.
The bestiary is limited but well-animated, especially when things explode. More graphically interesting is the array of armors, many of them designed for visual aesthetics and costuming rather than actual defence. The town’s special store will trade dog tags for the funnier items, and there’s a show room for staging cute and stylish screenshots. There could have been more variety at many points, more unique or individualized enemies to encounter, but Metal Dogs does a decent job with what it has.
And to be honest, that’s about all there is to say about this game. It’s not trying to be big, flashy, or grandiose. There is no greater message it is trying to convey. It is simply a game wherein cute puppy dogs run around blowing stuff up with machine guns and missile launchers, and that is all it needs to be. It succeeds in being exactly what it was meant to be, with only one real flaw: the obvious lead-in to the next Metal Max game, secondary title Wild West, which has been officially canceled as of this review. We might hope for a change in its project status in the future, if only for one more chance to play with Man’s Best Kick-Ass Good Boy.
But until then, it’s a dog’s life. Woof.
Gives exactly what the title promises
Lots of guns
Cute puppy dogs
Not much to it besides the guns and dogs
Narratively connected to main game that will never happen