Russian Subway Dogs is an interesting little title in that it’s incredibly simple but also fairly challenging. The game has players taking control of the titular subway dog (and others) with one goal: stay fed. This is done by barking at subway patrons and having them drop their food. Sounds simple, right?
For the most part, it is. Walk up behind someone, bork away, and tada, you’ve got yourself a tasty shawarma. However, things begin to get a lot more challenging when rather than noshing down on a tasty wrap, the subway-goer is sloshing down a bottle of vodka. I mean, this is Russia, after all.
This is ultimately how you’ll score multipliers in Russian Subway Dogs as this vodka must be some back street toilet vodka because as soon as it hits the cold, dirty floor of the subway, it bursts into flames. Fortunately, our Russian Subway Dog these alcohol flames are the perfect way to reheat said shawarma and score some additional points.
Our little doggie must also have a sonic-boom-powered bark, as he’s also capable of barking to bounce the bottle back up into the air, thus adding to the multiplier. When it inevitably crashes at the feet of another hungry commuter stuffing their face, it cooks the food and adds the multiplier to the value of the food. When caught in mid-air an even bigger bonus is acquired.
In Russian Subway Dogs, there are three controls, the first is simply moving from side to side, the second is jumping, and the third unleashes the almighty bork. That’s it, that’s all you need to know. However, the skill required in order to get some epic multipliers can be quite tricky as the airborne vodka can sometimes have a mind of its own, but that’s actually not a huge issue as the play space is fairly small and more often than not, a stray bottle of vodka can actually land in a good place.
The challenge actually comes with making sure you get the food in its prime. While raw food is good, cooked food is always better so you’ll often be looking for another alcohol swilling Russian so you can rack up some insane points. But waiting too long and our little ushanka-wearing fleabag goes hungry and inevitably dies. Adding to this, barking too much can also drain your hunger meaning you’re constantly battling between borking up a good multiplier or simply finding enough food to stay fed.
As you progress through Russian Subway Dogs, you’re introduced to more characters carrying your next meal, each of which comes with their own set of challenges. There’s your fish-wielding babushka who won’t stand for your incessant barking and will happily clock you around the chops with her 200lbs catch of the day, there’s also the bag lady who when spooked, will frantically dash backward and forward across the platform losing her vegetables as she goes.
It’s this diverse cast of meal tickets that make Russian Subway Dogs so much fun. While barking at the same shawarma chomping chappy is great and all, being able to successfully bounce a couple of bottles and burn the burger-munching Elvis impersonator is far more rewarding, especially if you catch the burger in mid-air.
What makes Russian Subway Dogs more difficult however is the inevitability of dropped food. While it seems the three-second rule doesn’t apply here when a tasty bit of chow slaps on the floor its point value is halved, which is a right kick in the teeth especially if you’ve managed to work up a scrummy multiplier. If that wasn’t bad enough, you’ll eventually have to contend with other subway dogs who’d rather benefit from your hard work than earn their own somewhat… honest meal.
This brings in the added challenge of not only dealing with getting the best value food possible but also making sure those thieving bastards don’t get their mitts on your meal. Fortunately, bouncing a well-placed vodka bottle their way does do wonders, but then you’re having to debate whether popping off old Lassie is worth sacrificing a nice cooked vegetable medley.
It’s either that or more cruelly you can trick our four-legged foes into snapping up the bar of chocolate you just scared out of the little girl’s hands, causing them to be poisoned and eventually die. Though I’m not sure what’s worse, dying from a moment of pleasure from a delicious bar of chocolate, or being burned alive by bog vodka. Russian Subway Dogs doesn’t mess around.
Russian Subway Dogs is actually a pleasant surprise. It’s one of those games you can easily hop in and out of and still have some idea what you have to do. The game also features a campaign and an endless mode which ramps up the challenge of keeping fed for as long as possible while having to deal with every obstacle, meal ticket, and freeloading fur bag all at once.
Overall, Russian Subway Dogs is a fantastic little time sink. It’s simplistic in execution but offers plenty of depth for players to really sink their teeth into. I could easily see it becoming a pretty fun mobile game too. Add to that the old-school pixel art style and the unlockable characters (some of which are from pop culture as well as cameos from other indie games) and you’ve got yourself a little winner.