With the increasing prices of video games, it can be difficult to find engaging titles on a budget. At times, it feels like there is an excess of shovelware on the market, and it can be difficult to distinguish which games are worth the money. Several popular animal-themed indie titles have finally made their way to Xbox, each priced at five dollars or less. But which games are good and which ones aren’t worth your time? Here is our round-up of Dogurai, Kattish, and Pets At Work to help you decide what to land on.
Dogurai is an action-platformer developed and published by Hungry Bear Games. Though it was originally released in 2019, the game has finally found its way to Xbox consoles this year. Difficult and stylish, Dogurai pays excellent homage to old-school handheld games.
Character development and expansive storylines are ideas that Dogurai neglects in favor of level design and art style. Although bits and pieces are revealed to the player about Dogurai’s purpose in saving the world, it is never enough to fully understand the setting, characters, and plot. Luckily, these aspects of the game are rather unimportant since players will be mostly engaged by the stunning use of limited color ranges and masterful level design. Even with a limited color palette, assets, and enemies are easy to distinguish in the environment. Each new segment of the game delivers a hit of nostalgia due to its Gameboy-inspired art design.
Dogurai forces players to skillfully navigate through several themed levels that each end with unique boss fights. The platforming is challenging and fair, like old Commander Keen games from the 1990s. However, each boss battle introduces a jarring difficulty spike. Players will likely have to memorize each boss’s attacks, which can at times, make the battles feel unforgiving. Even with its strange difficulty curves, Dogurai is smooth and addicting to play.
With a price point of five dollars, Dogurai is well worth the money and time. It succeeds in almost every attempt to invoke nostalgia, plays smoothly, and is absolutely remarkable. Anyone avoiding this title is simply missing out.
Kattish is a 2D puzzle platformer developed by 909games and published by Weakfish Studio Publishing. Kattish was originally published last year for the Nintendo Switch, and unfortunately, it is a title that will ultimately get drowned out by far superior games in the Xbox marketplace.
Players take control of an 8-bit cat that makes its way through a series of simple puzzles. Essentially, players will just move left and right across the level. Sometimes, a level will force players to play upside down. Some puzzles require a degree of problem-solving, but the difficulty never pushes players past the critical thinking of a fifth grader. Gameplay never gets more complex during the entire experience. Anyone looking to play Kattish should fully expect nothing more than a quick, boring game.
The most noticeable problem with Kattish is that it takes less than five minutes to complete. This may be a positive for gamers looking to quickly boost their gamerscore, but a game this short and simple cannot even justify a five-dollar price.
Pets At Work
In early 2022, the joint efforts of Nibb Games and Guimaraf Studio provided the world with Pets at Work, a colorful and cute 2D cooperative puzzle platformer. Microsoft is bringing the brief indie title to Xbox, and though it has a lot to improve on, it has several moments of charm and fun.
Much like the cooperative modes in Pikuniku or Snipperclips, Pets at Work invites players to play as a dog or cat and work together to solve various puzzles ranging in length and complexity. Dogs can break walls and move boxes that function as platforms but are slow and cannot jump very high. On the other hand, cats can navigate small spaces and jump extremely high in comparison. The different abilities of each character feels balanced and equitable.
The puzzles force players to communicate and think critically, though they can all be accomplished in a relatively short time. In its entirety, Pets at Work is a total of thirty levels. As levels progress, fewer and fewer new concepts get introduced to complicate the puzzles. The monotony and tedium of each level eventually makes the game feel like a slog.
On countless occasions, glitches occur that prevent the levels from being completed. For example, I had to restart levels several times simply because the number of pixels the cat could jump compared to the number of pixels of the platform I was aiming for simply did not match. Players will often get stuck on invisible pixels, and it is frustrating when all of the requirements of a level have been met, but the game does not register it as complete.
In spite of its several issues, anyone looking for a quick cooperative game to play will find that Pets at Work effectively kills time. Currently priced at less than four dollars, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t worth the money.
Dogurai, Pets at Work, and Kattish are all available now on Xbox.