You know what’s cool? Indie games. I remember a time where the idea of an indie game was impossible. A game played by hundreds of thousands and it doesn’t come from a huge company? Can you really call it a video game? Now, thankfully, we live in an indie game renaissance of sorts. It’s easier than ever to create a game and have it published onto almost every platform imaginable. One of the original indies that paved the way was Super Meat Boy. An absolutely brutal platformer that rewarded precision, patience, and resilience. It garnered such a cult following way back when that it kind of created its own platforming subgenre. Double Pug Switch is a platformer that feels as if it’s trying to find a place within that niche portion of gaming. Unfortunately, neither its bark nor bite are anything impressive.
Developed by The Polygon Loft, this side-scrolling, jumping adventure sees a good lil’ pupper of a pug named Otis get sucked into an alternate dimension. This is a direct result of the wicked kitty cat Whiskers knocking over some experimental chemicals within the lab of the professor that owns these fuzzy characters. Aside from being an insidious piece of anti-cat propaganda, it sets the game’s plot in motion, and now it’s up to Otis and his other-dimensional half to stop Whiskers from…*checks notes* creating an army. Look, it isn’t Shakespeare.
Dorky story aside, what we really want to know in a platformer is if it’s any fun. The answer is a big ol’ kinnnndaaa-no. Not really. Let’s start by talking about the double-pug switching part of Double Pug Switch. Due to travelling between dimensions, Otis now has the ability to switch between two versions of himself. This causes him to change colors and it makes certain objects, platforms, or baddies change as well. That platform look a bit too transparent? You’ll probably fall right through it. Switch dimensions to make it usable, and get ready to switch a lot more to make it through the rest of the level. This is a fine idea, and there are plenty of moments where you can pull off some last minute dimension hopping that feels and looks super slick. However, those moments are too few and far between. Not only that, but they’re hampered by the remaining design choices of the game.
For starters, Otis is a little doggo. He is not a light doggo. Otis’s weight feels unsuited for this type of platformer. In a game where near-perfect precision is crucial, you don’t want a character to be too floaty or, in this case, to sink faster than CD Projekt Red’s stock after the release of Cyberpunk 2077. His weight also made it frustratingly common for everything to look like I was about to land safely on a ledge, only for Otis to awkwardly slide backwards a bit before plummeting into a chasm. However, Otis’s weight might feel better if not for the game’s biggest mistake: auto-scrolling.
Yes, that dreaded beast. Everyone’s least favorite level in every platformer is any level that makes the screen scroll on its own. However, the auto-scrolling in Double Pug Switch is twice as evil because Otis carries himself from left to right. “If I don’t need the left half of this controller in my hands, why do I have it?” I thought before grabbing my hacksaw. In a platformer, or any game for that matter, letting the player have or at least feel like they’re in control is crucial. Effectively telling the player to sit, watch the pretty colors, and occasionally press a button or two at the exact moments they’re supposed to doesn’t feel like a lot of control. In fact, it barely feels like a video game at that point.
Auto-scrolling and auto-running beg the question of what it is the game is even trying to accomplish. If the gameplay makes up such a minor component of the game, is there an interesting story or message to be told? Oh, yeah. Evil cat that is now a cyborg for some reason. If you’re really into the idea of pressing the right button when you’re told to, the game does at least have a nice checkpoint system. Seeing as Otis fails if he makes a single misstep or collides with an unsavory obstacle, not having to restart every level from the very beginning is a wonderful addition. Not only that, but there’s a lovely little progress bar at the top of the screen which shows how close you are to the level’s end. Though, I continued eyeing that like an impatient middle-schooler eyes the classroom clock.
Even when an indie game doesn’t turn out to be amazing, it’s amazing that we have so many indie games. After all, would we be able to define the good games without the stinkers? It has a few good ideas, but they aren’t enough to turn the game into an enjoyable experience. With the smallest semblance of a plot, a character that feels too heavy and imprecise, and just plain odd design choices, Double Pug Switch is one indie platformer you’re better off missing.