Cats suck. Despite what Tuffcub might tell you, dogs are empirically better than cats. It’s just a fact*. So much so that it forms the entire premise of the game Double Pug Switch.
You play Otis, a sleepy, dim-witted pug who’s snoozing in the professor’s lab on day. As you lie there, your blood nemesis, the cat Whiskers, decides to tear a hole in space. More specifically, Whiskers sees two vials of portal fluid on the desk and decides that they’d look better on the floor. You know, because cats are evil.
After smashing the vials and sucking you both into a new dimension, your owner, the professor, somehow manages to call you and explain what’s happened. You’re occupying not only this new dimension, which is inexplicably a platformer, but also a third, parallel dimension. Not only this, but you seem to have acquired the ability to move between the two, which will come in extremely useful.
Lord Sker, as the maniacal Whiskers is now known, has somehow already taken over these two dimensions and strewn the world with deadly spikes. You, being a pug — sadly one of nature’s least intelligent doggos — sees this as an opportunity to hurtle forward, towards this gauntlet of death traps, at breakneck speed.
It’s a truly bizarre premise with which we find ourselves. I love dogs, I love platformers and I even love dimension-shifting platformers. Unfortunately, Double Pug Switch, a dimension-shifting platformer based on the premise that cats are little balls of evil and doggos are the saviour of all mankind, is not particularly good.
I first came across this game at a convention in 2018. Having played it, I asked the dev what they were going for. A game which is hard as nails but featuring a cute as heck doggo is pretty much what I was told. This, in and of itself, is a fine premise, but that alone does not make a game good.
Challenging games can be great, but what something like Dark Souls has that this game lacks is the ability to adapt, improve and overcome. Double Pug Switch is controlled entirely by two buttons: one to jump and the other to swap. The game is a side-scroller and Otis runs at a defined speed, stopping for nothing, meaning that your control comes down to three basic options: a hop, a jump and a switch. Much like Sonic the Hedgehog back in the day, you need to make split-second decisions — the difference is that Otis doesn’t drop rings if he hits something detrimental to his health, he simply dies and respawns.
This happens a lot in Dog Murder Simulator. As mentioned, the game is meant to be hard, but the severity of the challenge just feels obnoxious. One level, fairly early on, has no checkpoints and is lined with spikes just to ratchet up the difficulty. The difficulty is only made worse by sticky feeling controls that throw off your split-second timing, causing you to jump too late or switch dimensions too slowly, killing yourself in the process. The result is that ultimately, Double Pug Switch is not fun to play.
That’s not to say that the game isn’t without its merit. Otis is ostensibly cute. As you run around, trying not to die, you pick up gold and purple coins which can be spent on a selection of dandy hats (because gamers and dog owners love hats). Hunting out the rarer purple coins and picking them up is genuinely challenging and something that fans of the game will no doubt love doing. The problem is the level select screen doesn’t tell you which levels you’ve found all of the coins in, only if you’ve had a perfect run.
Some of the early levels are fairly well designed, and when you come across something new — like the portals which change dimension for you or the thing that makes you tiny for no reason — there is both intrigue and challenge to be found. No doubt, it would be fun to collect all the purple coins in a speed run without dying, but if you’re the galaxy brain capable of working around everything that is against you here, you clearly have better things to do with your time than playing this game. Go solve global warming or something.
Finally, there is the ultimate deal-breaking bug to contend with. After completing a particularly difficult level in the second of the game’s five worlds, I returned to the level-select screen to spend my hard-earned cash. I was horrified to see that the game had deleted my progress. I played through the section again, utterly furious, but I would not fault anyone who instead deleted the game and asked for a full refund.
*Not a fact.