Grapple Dog Demo: Swingin’ Sweetness
There are many demos available with Steam’s Next Fest this week, but a few standout to me personally. The topic of today’s blog post is Grapple dog, which I have been eyeing for many years. This title is a great choice for me as a long-time fan of 2D side scrollers and platformers. Get on board.
It was thus that Grapple dog was announced to be featured at Next Fest with a playable demo. Developer Joseph Gribbin will now be able to access all the development screenshots, videos and other content on Twitter. There have been many indie platforms that range from Where is Samantha? SHEEPO to . However, I felt that this game would be a special one. My expectations were high, judging by the demo.
Story – Flimsy Flashbacks (?)
While I don’t know much about demos, grapple dog does a different thing. The tutorial appears when you start it up but is likely placed in the middle or beginning of an intro sequence. Pablo, the dog, meets a mysterious robot named Nul after falling into a darkened chasm. You will eventually find the grappling hook as one of the main features of this game, as you play through the controls. The game’s name could be a clue. Soon after, the screen turns to white and you are on a boat. You can move around and select from three different stages. It initially seemed like the game was broken. However, I soon realized it was likely intentional. (Right?)
This particular state has very little to hold on to from a “Story”. Pablo and Nul are introduced. I believe you could have spoken with one additional person, but nothing more. According to what I was able to gather, Nul coerces people into helping the creature retain some power. This power is then used to conquer the world. Your goal is to stop it. It’s pretty straightforward for a platformer and very little is revealed during the demo. The demo consists mainly of gameplay and a glimpse at the worlds.
Gameplay – Barkin’ Up the Right Spaces
It was fast-paced, which I knew going in. You’ll find many bouncy, swingy, and physics-influenced trajectories throughout your time here. Although it’s not , it can be quite frantic for those who aren’t familiar with the genre. It’s easy to play the game at your own pace thanks to its design.
Grapple dog has accessibility features that make it much easier. These measures can be found in the options menu. If I remember correctly, one can choose whether they want infinite health and infinite jumps. This may be seen as dumbing down of the game. I prefer to view it as optional cheat codes that allow one to coast through the games and feel like the best thing ever. It’s great to see games that can either make things more ridiculous or super-expensive. Do you remember moon gravity in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game? It was amazing.
The game is a basic platformer title with a grappling mechanic. You will need to move from one side of the stage to the other, dealing with obstacles like spike traps and robo-baddies. One is encouraged to collect little fruits along the way. These fruits can be used as currency for secret levels or progression. Pablo is able to jump, ground-pound and wall-jump his way around various stages, making him much more agile than an average dog.
Even though the overall objectives of Grapple dog are not original, Grapple dog is immediately recommended for its high-flying feeling of freedom. While you can’t just grab onto anything you want, there are stages that provide all the entertainment you could need. You will be bouncing to and fro, getting higher up, and shuffling up and back to avoid buzzsaws. While suspended above the lava, you’ll also need to maneuver around tight spaces and grab as many fruits as possible. This is a modern 2D platformer that allows you to see the nuances of what makes an adventure thrilling.
Each stage is filled with an inexhaustible energy that encourages the player to explore and experiment. The layout and visuals are well-communicated to keep the players interested in the environment without having to explain everything. Assuming that you have played platformers before. Its default difficulty is both approachable and controller-smashing, so accessibility measures aside. These three stages provide a natural progression of difficulty that is well-suited to general player logic. An extraordinary attention to detail that is not usually noticed by most players but which is simply expected.
It wasn’t perfect, however, as these things go. Similar to , auto-targeting for grappling hook shots can be finicky. This can lead to many unjust deaths. This is especially true in areas that have many things to lock-on, and fast-paced situations that require quick reflexes. Swinging has a general roughness that can sometimes slow down the speed of stages. This issue was less obvious for certain moving grapple points, but for those attached to the ceiling in a single spot, I might have hit the sides, which could have stopped my momentum – a few too many times for my comfort.
This is a very minor issue, but the game’s performance was excellent throughout. There were instances when the game would freeze for about a second, which scared me enough to think the demo had crashed. This happened a few times in the first 20 minutes of my playtime.
Graphics and Audio – I Dig this Dog
Grapple dog appears to be mostly being managed by one person, according to my knowledge. Although he may have hired other people to help, the Steam developer name is “Joseph Gribbin” so I believe he is doing everything. Just wanted to say how amazing that is.
The game’s colorful, vibrant display of splendor is perfect for the overall adventure vibe. There are many colors that signify a mysterious mechanic, including vibrant yellows, blues, oranges, and reds. Some platforms have an arrow on them, and they will bounce you. Some platforms are orange with many arrows and bounce higher. Anything that is blue is essentially a grapple point. These different color denotations make it easy to understand what is and is not available at any given time. They are also very pretty. I am fascinated by the three stages displayed in their unique settings.