Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Doghouse 2

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than building a nice little house for your dog, Leonard. You have a house for yourself, it’s only fair that he gets one as well. However, he’s quite different than the puppy you adopted not so long ago. Too many arms. Too many teeth. You have to build him a shelter. But will a few plywood boards be enough to contain his anger come nightfall? Find out in Doghouse 2.

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

I first encountered the original Doghouse about a year ago. It was great but so short I had to double it up with another game for the article. So what a delight it was to see that Doghouse 2 had been released a few months after that, not as a sequel but as a more fully realized version of the initial two-minute game. Developer Tumbleweed has done something that I admire in a lot of indie devs: taking your initial idea and remaking it with greater skill.

The ability to radically change an idea, or scrap a game and start over, is not something to be taken lightly. Especially in regard to non-indie games. If a triple-A project is not shaping up to be good, generally the project cannot alter course in any meaningful way. Take No Man’s Sky. Somewhere along the line, such an incredible amount of financing and marketing, and labor went into the project that it was forced to be released without being a fully realized vision. If not for over six years of patches and content updates, the studio would certainly have been shut down. Doghouse 2 is just a microcosm of the flexibility unique to indie developers, and how it is something to be cherished. 

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

Doghouse 2 is sort of a 3d point-and-click adventure. You may roam about the backyard and inside of your house, collecting items and examining various objects. Collect tools and materials to build the perfect doghouse, or make note of a chef’s knife in the kitchen, in case you need it later for some reason. There are 5 endings, which means that at some point, you will have to make a choice. Can you reconcile your relationship with Leonard? If not, which of you will survive the night?

What Works:

The gameplay of Doghouse 2 is roughly three times as long as Doghouse, which means you can finish all the endings in probably 12 minutes instead of 4. The concept is short and sweet, and often amusing too. And more so than that, it expands upon just about everything presented in Doghouse: the graphics and audio are much better, the mechanics are more advanced (you can jump now, which is not needed but appreciated), and Leonard is far more imposing and terrifying, and is not content to sleep idly in the grass. It’s a straight upgrade from the previous game, a true remaster if ever there was one. 

What Doesn’t:

The endings of Doghouse 2 are a bit hard to anticipate. On my first go around, I think I found the silly ending, which was not what I was expecting after such a terrifying encounter with The Dog. It would be nice to expand upon the game further, perhaps setting up some of the endings more thoroughly. That said, all of the endings were great and I enjoyed the game a lot.

How To Fix It:

Finance Tumbleweed so they can create Doghouse: Vice City, Doghouse 4: Guns of the Patriots, Doghou5e, Doghouse Omega Ruby and Doghouse Alpha Saphire, and Final Doghouse XIV MMORPG.

Wanky Musings:

Perhaps Doghouse 2 is not the perfect example of indie developers exercising their creative control over a project, since it is not exactly a radical change from Doghouse, but it does show the benefit of a small project going back to the drawing board and trying again anew. I’ve played dozens of half-finished and abandoned projects on itch.io, and though I often wished they were seen to completion, I also recognize the benefits of having the freedom for a dev to call it quits. I believe that this plays a considerable role in the great explosion of indie games’ creativity and expanding community, and why they are more artistic in nature than your average multi-million dollar videogame project. 

You can download Doghouse 2 on itch.io by clicking here