by Marcus Estrada
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]ogsledding is something that seems quite unique, but not the kind of thing I’ll ever get a shot at doing in real life. Thankfully, someone went out and made a video game about it! In 2013 the Kickstarter for Dog Sled Saga took off and reached over double its goal amount. It seems the simple concept really drew people in. Now the game has landed on Steam Early Access so you can take the reigns and test it out for yourself. But how is the game right now and should you wait or buy right away?
The answer to the question really depends on your tastes as a gamer. If you love casual and quick games then Dog Sled Saga is probably right up your alley. Right now the game is fairly simplistic. You select your first team of three dogs and race with them in various competitions every month. Although there are various dog stats and skills, during races you don’t usually have to fret about them too much. All you need to focus on is keeping each dog from drifting too far and keeping them well fed.
Feeding dogs is accomplished by a timing-based throw. At the start of any race (and at various points throughout) your musher loads up on dog treats and can throw them to all three dogs. As you hold the throw button the arc for it grows larger. The goal is to time letting go of the button just when the arc is over the dog you want to feed. It takes a bit of practice, especially when you also want to focus on the rest of the race. No, you don’t actually steer the vehicle or anything but somehow it still becomes a tense experience.
As your dogs race along the 2D field they’ll sometimes drift out of their positions. If the leash between two dogs slackens too much one animal might actually get tied up in it. At this point you have to untangle them immediately because it slows down everyone quite fast. Beyond this you’ve also got to keep an eye out for jumps. Mess up that and it’s very hard to recover and win a race. For the most part, you don’t have to win races to progress. It just helps as you’ll get more money. At the end of every month you’re required to pay association fees so try to do well!
There are deeper mechanics in play, such as how timing food throws perfectly might set off a dog’s skill or happiness, but it’s not a huge focus for players like me. Similarly, one objective of Dog Sled Saga is to climb the ranks from newbie musher to expert but none of that is forced upon you. As such I’ve had more fun simply enjoying races without having to worry about qualifying or heavy monthly payments.
Various stats and skills will continue to see upgrades through the Early Access process. However, things like the visuals are (mostly) set. This isn’t an issue because the pixelated doggies are adorable! What they will be doing is adding in a few more breeds and possibly even a dog breeding mechanic. So far Dog Sled Saga is a fairly simplistic, arcade-y game, but there’s nothing at all wrong with that. As long as you don’t jump in expecting a hugely simulation-style game then you’ll likely enjoy this romp in the snow.
[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ] Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]