Herding Dog is a port of a mobile game called Join the Pack, and both are developed by Xixgames, a one man studio. Although their relationship is never explicitly stated by the creator, they are obviously the same game. Herding Dog puts you in control of a farm dog, whose job it is to herd animals to certain target locations. While moving the various animals, items must be collected as a secondary objective to complete each level. Occasionally, levels have a predator who tries to kill the animals you are working with, and you’ll have to scare away the enemy by barking. Sadly, the basic pitch of the game is all that it has to offer. However, I will go as in-depth as possible with Herding Dog in order to fully convey my strange experience.
Herding Dog plays out on a low-poly art style, and offers 21 levels. The first nine levels have certain themes, while the rest are randomly generated and repetitive. As harsh as it may sound, I believe Herding Dog is a game for little kids. And by little, we’re talking 4 or 5 year-olds. Let me explain why I’ve come to this conclusion: First off, Herding Dog is extremely easy and if there’s such a thing as too forgiving, it’s being defined here. You practically can’t lose a level unless you try. Technically, if all the animals you’re supposed to herd get killed by enemies, you’ll fail the level and will have to restart. However, it’s ridiculously easy to hone in on one target and lead them to the objective location. As long as you can stay relatively near the sheep, pig, or cow; the enemy will leave you alone.
The only reason why you would be motivated to do well on a stage by rescuing all the animals is because you’re provided with a letter grade at the end of each phase. Perfectionists and players looking for a personal challenge might want to reach an A grade, but there’s not even an achievement or in-game leaderboard for incentive. You can’t even check your previous scores, for crying out loud!
The soundtrack in Herding Dog is decent, but only contains nine tracks. Also, each melody is only around a minute long and has a looping effect. This can really drive you insane after a while, and the game is mind-numbing enough to amplify this effect. Apparently, Herding Dog originally launched with only two songs! I feel sorry for whoever bought the game near it’s release and had to go through that torture.
Alright, now let’s talk glitches. The game is filled with some major bugs from start to finish. The objective marker that tells you where the target animals are often breaks and ends up pointing you to nothing. Whenever this happened, I had to scour the entire map for a single chicken, so a level that should have taken about thirty seconds ended up taking ten minutes. Also, animals sometimes walk through fences, boulders, and other objects placed in the environment. This bug doesn’t really break the game, but creates a general lack of polish.
Now, here’s a huge glitch that really shouldn’t happen: If you exit to the main menu after completing a mission instead of moving on to the next one, the game completely bugs out. The “stage completed” screen pops up and blocks you from clicking anything, forcing you to restart the entire game. Once restarted, Herding Dog loops on the level that you most recently completed and will not let you move on until you beat it. Glitches like this can ruin a game, and unfortunately Herding Dog contains a pretty obvious one. If you work around the problem by quitting the game only in the middle of a level instead of after finishing one, you should be fine. However, a serious issue like this shouldn’t even exist in the first place.
Hopefully, now you can see why I believe Herding Dog is mainly for kids, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. A five year-old can easily figure out the game, and won’t be bothered by the glitches. They might actually enjoy the goofy, looping soundtrack and have fun playing around as a dog. It will entertain them for hours on end, and contains little violence. I think Herding Dog shouldn’t be marketed to adults and ought to stay on mobile devices. It simply can’t perform well on the big screen, and doesn’t provide enough content for even a casual gamer. Buy it for your kids, don’t buy it for yourself.
A review code for Herding Dog was provided by XixGames for the purpose of this review
- Simple, yet appealing art style
- Easy to pick up and play
- Enjoyable at first
- Great for young kids
- Repetitive gameplay and soundtrack
- Many small glitches and at least one game-breaking one
- Too forgiving throughout
- Lacks motivating objectives
- Ported roughly from mobile devices