When I first saw a trailer for Double Pug Switch I thought I was in for an easy ride. On the surface, it’s a cute platformer with cuddly visuals that wouldn’t hurt a fly. Having taken the plunge into its gameplay though, I’ve emerged bloody, battered, and broken. This is not a game for the faint of heart. It will challenge you in ways you’d never thought possible, but in the end, you’ll still love it.
Not Your Average Story
As the game starts, you see a situation unfold that was just waiting to happen. A scientist is mixing chemicals while her pug sleeps, and her cat sits quietly on the counter. In classic cat fashion, the feisty feline decides that it’s going to knock the only liquid around onto the floor. Unfortunately for all of space and time, this opens up a portal that sends both cat and dog flying into a new dimension.
The premise here is quite simple. Guide the pug out of this strange new dimension, and help it survive the obstacles it encounters. The game also requires you to rescue the cat. As far as I’m concerned, that kitty can rot though. I don’t want a creature that’s this much of a douchebag in my house. I certainly won’t put any effort into rescuing it from the stupid situation it’s gotten itself into.
As far as stories go, it’s very simple. However, it’s a lot more than many other platforms will give you. It’s also a fantastic excuse to show off the cutesy visuals in an all-new cutscene style. If you’re at all into comics and graphic novels, these sections will be pure bliss.
This Game Lies
The gameplay starts off simple enough. The pug runs towards the right-hand side of the screen. The only control you begin with is a jump button, which you need to use perfectly in order to avoid the drops and spikes that fill each level. There are also coins to collect, and grabbing these can present yet more of a challenge.
The jump button is interesting. The longer you hold it, the longer the pug will be in the air. It introduces a nuance to the genre that I’ve never had to get used to. I found myself falling off a ledge over and over again just because I couldn’t get this right. That might sound terrible, but trust me, I was the problem. After some practice, I managed to get my head around the timings of each jump, and how long I needed to press the button for.
This is a skill that you need to learn quickly though because your second button is thrown at you soon after. This one is linked to the interdimensional issues that bloody cat has caused.
Two Pugs in One
As the name might suggest, Double Pug Switch is all about switching between two pugs. The game just doesn’t tell you that one of those is an interdimensional twin until it absolutely has to. This is when you get the Switch button, and it mixes the gameplay up something fierce. Suddenly each level is filled with obstacles and floors that are in one of two dimensions.
If you’re in the wrong one, you’ll fall through the floor, but you can also pass through a wall that might have otherwise blocked you. Most games would give you this ability, whilst also allowing you to take your time and slowly learn how to use the skill. This game doesn’t do that. In fact, it does the opposite, and it’s refreshingly infuriating in a way that will keep you coming back for more punishment.
I attempted a level no less than 20 times, purely because I was on the final checkpoint, and refused to give up. Getting the jumping and switching between pugs right is yet another learning curve that you must master in this game if you want to succeed. The trouble is that it’s the gaming equivalent of patting your belly and rubbing your head (or patting your head and rubbing your belly?).
This skill never becomes intuitive, at least it didn’t for me. I can see how a player could master this skill and complete the game in mere minutes, but that’s a skill I don’t think I’ll ever develop.
From this point forwards the game introduces new elements every few levels. At some points, there might be an automatic jump, and others could see you shrink to an impossibly small size. Each element is combined in new ways as the game goes on, keeping you on your toes constantly.
If From Software, the developers of Dark Souls, ever made platformer, it would look like Double Pug Switch. The gameplay is fiendishly challenging, yet it’s based on skill. The more you play, the better you’ll become, but there’s no way to brute force each level and come out on top. This game is about the journey, and if you’re not interested in that journey, you may as well not bother.
Much like From Software’s well-known franchise, Double Pug Switch is infuriatingly addictive. No matter how many times you find yourself stuck on a checkpoint, you’ll find a way to complete the level, then move right onto the next one. any sane human would stop once the level is finished, but you’ll become so hooked that rational decision making abandons you.
Overall Double Pug Switch is a brilliant little game. It’s got fantastic visuals, a crazy but enjoyable soundtrack, and gameplay that will keep you engrossed right up until the end. It may not win any awards for its incredible story, but it could become a speedrunning sensation. I would love to watch others play through the game without ever getting stopped by an obstacle. I firmly believe that this game will foster a community that optimizes each level to the point that they know how to finish the game in under one hour.
If you’re looking for a new addictive platformer that won’t break the bank, this is it. If however, you want a deep story and innovative gameplay, you might want to move on. Those with an addictive personality might also want to avoid it, this is a hole that will take you weeks to climb out of.