Dog's Life is a charming, silly, and easy action game from Frontier Developments, the people who once upon a time brought you the seminal spacefaring sim Elite. How Frontier went from interstellar cargo to canine hijinks is anyone's guess, but regardless, the company has provided a neat, little game in Dog's Life that's obviously targeted at kids (despite an undeserved "T" for Teen rating) and might even be an entertaining romp for older gamers as well, given its budget-minded price. The game is simply designed and has a few annoying quirks, but it's got a genuine charm that helps to balance it out.
You'll run, eat, and poop your way to rescuing Jake's pal, Daisy, in Dog's Life.
The story of Dog's Life is straightforward. You're in control of Jake, a friendly mutt who really seems to enjoy being a dog. Jake hangs around in the sleepy little town of Clarksville, doing doggy things and pining after his best girl Daisy--until some dastardly dognappers come to town and whisk her away to parts--and a fate--unknown. Noble hound that he is, Jake sets out to find out where Daisy's been taken so that he can travel there, free her, and restore peace to his canine existence. To do this, he'll have to collect bones--scores of them, in fact--from in and around Clarksville, a ski resort, and a big city. The number of bones you have increases your abilities in a nonspecific way (that is, you don't actually see any stats increasing as you collect them). The more you have, the easier it'll be for you to complete future tasks.
As a dog, you've got an assortment of canine abilities to help you both track down bones and eventually get to Daisy. The most important one is referred to as "smellovision," which puts you in a first-person view through which all sorts of scents appear as variously colored clouds floating in the air. Collect 50 of one color and you'll get a bone. Collect eight of another color and you'll challenge the local dog to one contest or another, which results in another bone. Smellovision is an essential tool for finding clues that you won't be able to see (or smell) from the regular third-person view.
Many of the bones you'll acquire will be given to you by humans that give you small quests to complete. These are generally quite easy, so you'll spend most of your time doing things like fetching a particular item, herding sheep, running off another dog, and so on. There are a lot of other breeds of dogs hanging around, and you'll be able to challenge each one to a couple of minigames to gain even more bones. These mostly amount to tests of running or button-mashing prowess. For instance, the digging game has you hammering on the button to dig holes faster than the other dog, while pursuit has you chasing down and trying to catch a fleeing dog before time runs out. The most amusing one of the handful of minigames is the territory-marking game, which presents you with a grid and has you and a rival mutt competing to see who can urinate on enough corners to claim more space to win the contest.