The Bottom Line: If you’re in the mood to take snapshots and play with cute puppies, this charming photography game absolutely fits the bill.
Are you the kind of person who likes to unwind at the end of a long day in the company of puppies? What if I told you there would be a whole lotta puppies? We’re talking hundreds of puppies, all of which you can pet and adorn with cute outfits. Sound like your kind of jam? If so, then oh boy, do I have the game for you!
Pupperazzi takes you on a whirlwind tour of beaches, parks, and canyons, all packed with adorable pooches. At each location your task is to fulfill photo requests from clients. Some requests are general, such as taking a photo of two dogs on the beach, while others are very specific. For instance, one client asked that I capture a photo of an autonomous cleaning bot spooking the bejesus out of four canines at once. Have you ever tried chasing down a pack of dogs with a Roomba? Let’s just say it took a truckload of frisbees and chew toys along with a little elbow grease to cajole all the subjects into position.
The moment-to-moment gameplay is enjoyable in its simplicity. Because you’re locked into a first-person point of view, you generally have a good sense of how your photos will turn out even before you peep through the viewfinder. Exploring the environments, finding the best angles, and snapping photos feels smooth and natural. The game also boasts light platforming elements, and platformer fans will enjoy tracking down all the collectibles and secrets that the developers hid throughout each stage.
A Poised Performer
What I really appreciate about Pupperazzi, though, is the confidence I sense in its presentation and execution. It feels as though the developers started out with a clear goal – to make a straightforward game about taking photos of cute dogs – and focused entirely on bringing that vision to fruition. This is a very lean game; it has no overbearing cinematics, no needless fetch quests, no aimless wandering. Client requests are straight to the point, and walking from one end of an area to the other never takes more than a minute. The whole game is a friction-less experience that consistently delights.
But make no mistake. Despite all this streamlining, Pupperazzi has no shortage of charm. The clients you shoot photos for all have unique personalities – my favorite is the old fogy who insists that you employ proper photography technique. (Only one subject per photo! Center the subject in the frame!) He’s a crank, to be sure, but if you persevere you should be able to soften him up. Another notable character is “His Majesty” – perhaps a tribute to the Katamari series? And let’s not forget about the in-game social media network, dogNET. Each photo you upload will garner kudos from different groups of fans. Photos taken with gimmicky lenses net you likes with the artsy crowd, while pictures of skateboarding dogs will build your following with sporty types, and so on.
Boogie Beagle Blues
It’s a splendid little game. In fact, as I write this article I feel like I’m pumping up my own opinion of it, so I’d better mention a couple negatives before I accidentally hand out a perfect score. First of all, performance on console is not great. The game hasn’t been optimized for Xbox Series SX consoles, and is locked to 30FPS across the entire Xbox family. Considering we were already over a year into the current console generation when Pupperazzi came out, I find this lack of optimization disappointing. Later I did give it a spin on my PC and found that even my aging RX570 GPU tightened up the visual experience considerably. I’m usually not much of a graphics snob, but in this case the sharper resolution and higher frame rate really helped accentuate the charm.
The other issue? Pupperazzi is very short. You’re likely to reach the credits in under two hours. There is more you can do after that, but even then you’re likely looking at 3-5 hours of gameplay at most. On the bright side, the short length means this pooch doesn’t overstay its welcome. If a typical AAA game is like a trek through the mountains, Pupperazzi is like taking your pet for a brisk walk in the park. If you’re burnt out on Assassin’s Cries and Fallout Scrolls and need a change of pace, Pupperazzi just may be the game for you.