Wobbledogs PC Review
The Tamagotchi craze in the 90s was the first time I was invested in the digital pet concept. In fairness, I think it was for a lot of people, as the must-have device was in every kids’ hands. Tamagotchi became so popular in my area that the high school I went to decided to ban them, due to the distractions they brought into the classrooms. Roll on to the current age and the virtual pet concept has come and gone many times. We have had titles like Nintendogs, Monster Rancher, Spore, Seaman and Viva Pinata, all bringing their version of pet simulation. The new kid on the block is indie title Wobbledogs, a 3D pet simulation where the player looks after bizarre, but somehow adorable, cuboid doggies in customisable rooms until they pass on to the afterlife. These dogs have strange body shapes that mutate over time as they breed with each other into things that could only come for the deepest nightmares…in other words, these Frankenstein puppies are only what a mother could love.
There is no setup or bizarre plot to the scenario of Wobbledogs. The game throws the player straight into a tutorial to learn about the core mechanics of this sandbox pet game, then off you go with your first single room and a couple of wobbledogs to watch grow into adulthood. From there, it is time to make them breed to see what creations come from their genetics. The premise is rather straightforward and simple. The game is intended for all ages and to be a casual experience, and the developers even admit on its Steam page that it “is meant to be enjoyable simply to passively observe”, which I totally agree with. Wobbledogs feels like a game that you have running while you play something else. In that sense, I could see this being perfect on the Nintendo Switch or running on Valve’s Steam Deck at the side of your gaming PC to check on the wobbledogs while running around the Lands Between.
In essence, the player is playing a mad god using the wobbledogs as an experimental playground to see what mutations can be formed. At first, I thought I was doing things wrong, because most of my wobbledogs within the first couple of hours of play were similar, with only their size, length and personality making any difference to them, but soon these critters start changing from their sky blue faces and purple bodies into a variety of shades from the colour spectrum. I gave it a few more hours and these animals began to gain wings, have two heads or insane bendy, long bodies. Eventually, these wobbledogs become less like dogs and more like demonic infused devil puppies that would not look out of place guarding the gates of hell.
Mutation simulation is the key selling point of Wobbledogs and is all based on the game’s Gut Flora mechanic and how it adds traits when breeding. When one of the critters eats any of the food available to them, and there ends up being plenty of variety once all the vending machines are unlocked, their gut begins to capture the microbiota and keep them until they pass onto the afterlife. The game has an easy to understand flora graph that explains where each one comes from and what it can genetically alter. These are not revealed until discovered. The gut flora could alter anything, such as make them orange, give them long legs, short ears, long snouts, metallic sheens, wings, and additional legs, there are many outcomes that can happen.
The best way to gain the mutation you desire is to have a watchful eye on the dogs from birth and keep them around areas where the food has the correct flora, so they will snack on those rather than other food, poop or even dead dogs…yep, these animals will even eat a dead comrade. It is easy to see what is currently stocked in the stomach, as selecting a pet will showcase its guts on the left side of the screen.
Life and death are a constant occurrence in the game. On average, these animals last around 35 minutes. This setting can be changed in the options to increase or decrease to fit around how the player would like progress to be made. There is even an option to turn off death entirely, but doing so will mean missing the point of the game, and some unlockable items and achievements along the way. The shortness of life is to make the player keep breeding new wobbledogs and have their mutations begin to spiral into the next generation, cross-breeding them to the point their original blue face and purple bodies are none existent and have turned into flying, little legged, dog rats coloured in green and black. A neat addition is that players can find codes from their friends, or the friendly Steam forums, and add other people’s genetic mutations into the game. Not only does this give the player new wobbledogs, it also means a good starting point to breed with the existing litter to kick the mutations into overdrive.
Stepping away from the main core, there is not much else to do apart from looking after the pets, a standard element of pet simulation games. The wobbledogs are quite confident in looking after themselves, but the involvement from the player is required to achieve the mutation desired, as they have a tendency to eat whatever appears in front of them. If they have a negative mutation, such as trouble walking, then it often leads to eating their own poo or someone else’s as it is the only source of energy close by. Each wobbledog has a stat for hunger, tiredness and fun, and if these are low, then the player should get involved to correct this. Give them food on the ground, make them sleep if tired or give them a ball or sit them in front of the TV. If they misbehave, such as biting other dogs, then there are options to scold them to train them not to do it or praise them to make them feel loved if they do something right. While they might die of old age, these dogs are indestructible, as they can be picked up and launched around the rooms without occurring any injury. I should not really do it, but it was so amusing seeing them flung around. Luckily, these are not real.
Thanks to the stream of unlocks that are gained by either the wobbledogs digging up capsules that contain a prize or through unlocking achievements, there is reason to stick around in the early game to gain these shiny presents. These unlock new rooms, items and internal designs that go a long way to personalise each of the playgrounds, with suction pipes helping the animals travel between rooms. If it was not for the constant rewards being given then Wobbledogs would be a little mundane to play.
At times it does feel as if the player is waiting for these animals to do their daily business and eventually be ready to pupate. At this point, it means they are ready to jump to their next age bracket, cocooning themselves for a few seconds and then hatching, repeating the process until they eventually die. Wobbledogs can only breed once they are old enough, but they can breed as many times as they can, by combining them together and selecting a free egg that will absorb all their love, which somehow happens with a giant robot slapping the two wobbledogs together…yeah, it’s bizarre, and I love it, just like the amusing AI behaviour of these dogs that makes you fall in love with them. We all know that dogs are better than cats!
Wobbledogs hooks in the player with its bright, colourful visuals, and its cute critters that easily charm their new owners. Wobbledogs is not for everyone. It is a niche title that requires a specific type of player, a very casual and family-focused player, to enjoy its mostly passive gameplay. Apart from the minimal interactions and early game unlocks, there is little gaming to be done here and is more about watching from the outside to see how these dogs go about their life. This is a pet simulation, and an inexpensive one at that, with a price tag of £15.99. In that aspect, it delivers a solid experience. Its excitement comes from what mutations are going to happen next, it is how the game pulls at the hearts of its players to adore their freaky wobbledogs. The whole gut flora concept is quite a bespoke and detailed mechanic, and seeing that come to fruition through these digital animals, from their infant stage to death, makes it fun. Although, it is probably best to play while doing something else, as there can be a bit too much downtime to keep a player’s full attention.