‘Wobbledogs’ review: the weirdest pet simulator you’ll ever play

Picture 'Nintendogs' with widespread genetic mutations

When you hear the name Wobbledogs, what springs to mind? A gaggle of vertigo-stricken canines? It would be a fair – and partly accurate – to assume that’s what Wobbledogs is about, but somehow, the truth is so much weirder.

While you’ll certainly meet your fair share of stability-challenged mutts in Wobbledogs, it’s only part of the game’s premise. At its heart, Wobbledogs is a pet simulator where players are tasked with raising and caring for dogs. There’s just one caveat – Wobbledogs‘ pets are particularly prone to mutation, and by nosing through the bacteria in their guts, players can create some truly bizarre breeds.

The stars of the show, the wobbly dogs in question, play their part perfectly. Behind Wobbledogs‘ ludicrously goofy aesthetic, each dog in the game is actually simulated very thoroughly: if each of a dog’s four legs are bucked in different directions, it will move like a rocking horse strapped with nitrous. Likewise, if a dog’s body becomes too wide for its poor legs to support, it will frequently topple sideways with all the grace of a reversing dump truck.

Wobbledogs. Credit: Animal Uprising.
Wobbledogs. Credit: Animal Uprising.

These sorts of impractical mutations are far from uncommon. As you care for your dogs, they’ll mutate their physical traits based on what they’ve been snacking on. Wobbledogs lets you build convenient food dispensers that provide everything from chicken nuggets to suspiciously pre-nibbled burritos at the push of the button, and each of these food types come with their own unique types of bacteria. Outside of the (mostly) sanitary options, your pets are liable to eat just about everything they find – from baby teeth to their own discarded cocoons and clumps of dirt.

Each of these edible items carries their own set of germs, and if there’s too much of one bacteria in a dog’s gut, it’s likely to have an effect on their mutations and lineage. Eating too many fries will cause a dog’s body to become long and thin – resembling the fries in question – while chicken nuggets will cause them to shrink. Playing more Wobbledogs unlocks extra options for food, which come with increasingly dramatic flora, which can do everything from turning dogs yellow to inverting their snout and making them farcically squat. The flora and breeding system is surprisingly in-depth, and playing with it – seeing how far you can take your experiments, how weird you can make your beloved dogs – becomes incredibly compelling as each breed’s genes become more complex.

Wobbledogs. Credit: Animal Uprising.
Wobbledogs. Credit: Animal Uprising.

Beyond playing the role of mad scientist, there’s plenty to do in Wobbledogs. Earning achievements will unlock decorative items to customise rooms, while you’re always welcome to sit around and play with your dogs. It feels somewhat similar to Nintendogs, crossed with Team Meat’s long overdue Mewgenics

Though raising the weirdest dogs possible is, ostensibly, what you should be doing, there is also a level of physical comedy to Wobbledogs that makes it an irresistible spectator sport. If 17 years of YouTube has taught us anything, it’s that dogs are inherently funny creatures – in Wobbledogs, that’s no different. Why engage with the intricacies of genetic science when you can watch a puppy attempt to eat a burrito bigger than its head? Forget decorating – wouldn’t you rather watch a dog become fiercely clingy about an inanimate ball of dirt?

Wobbledogs. Credit: Animal Uprising.
Wobbledogs. Credit: Animal Uprising.

Because of Wobbledogs‘ smart AI, just watching the dogs live their lives is hilarious – first-hand highlights include a cocoon that’s immediately munched up before it can be binned, an adult dog digging up a chicken nugget that it buried in its youth, and a puppy that was knocked onto its back and indignantly refused to get up. The most realistic part of Wobbledogs is that humans can be eternally satisfied by watching dogs do silly things.

With all that said, Wobbledogs isn’t for everyone. Waiting for dogs to mutate can be lengthy process, and there’s not much to do beyond the core loop that’s introduced at the start – feeding your dogs and playing with them. While watching the dogs deal with their genetic quirks is delightful, the game could benefit from being slightly more interactive – perhaps with more ways to play with each dog, or a wider range of environments to play around with. Likewise, customisation feels a little restricted – although you can eventually construct elaborate play-pens for your pooches, the premise of these rickety canines running amok in a more open sandbox is one that feels like untapped gold.

Regardless, these aren’t deal-breaking features – just areas that could perhaps be re-visited if developer Animal Uprising decides to support the game after launch. Wobbledogs is a gloriously zany game that thrives in the chaos it creates, and following the last few months of AAA games, it’s a great opportunity to unwind and mess around with something lighter.

Wobbledogs is available on PC

The Verdict

Wobbledogs‘ £15.99 price tag is absolutely worth it for anyone looking for a slow-burn simulator, or players who simply want to run wild with an in-depth genetics system. Though there’s not much to do besides watching your hapless dogs struggle to get their four legs working in unison, sometimes that’s all you need.

Pros

  • Watching freakishly proportioned dogs chasing burritos never gets old
  • You’ll fall in love with Wobbledogs‘ weirdly cute critters
  • The mutation system is incredibly detailed

Cons

  • Having more ways to interact with pets would be fantastic
  • Customisation options for environments in the game are a little plain
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