Dog Airport 2

An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs Review

7
Surprisingly tender

An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs (or just Dog Airport from here on) can only be a game crafted in the internet age, for the online crowd; it’s an absurdist game set in an airport, which is manned (or dogged) by stock images of adorable dogs, all of whom can converse in human language and be enthusiastically petted by you. Of course, in the post-”Can You Pet The Dog” Twitter account internet era, it’ll be utterly remiss to exclude the ability to zealously pet a whole heckin’ universe full of eager pooches. 

The premise is simple and surreal in equal measure—the point, really, is to not overthink the peculiarities of this world. You begin your adventure imprisoned in a cage with your partner Krista, and after getting out of your jail, Krista expresses an interest in taking a trip across several islands and planets. She’s a bit of a lone traveller though, so you’ll have to make your way to these places on your own. That means that much like an actual airport—a now mythical place most of us also haven’t visited in a while–you’ll have to collect your boarding pass and make your way to the gates, and at the right time too, lest you miss your flight. Along the way, you can help some pups out with their predicaments–simple puzzles that consist of running errands and finding them the items they need, and discover more about this doggone universe. 

This task isn’t as straightforward as it seems, at least at the beginning. Human languages have long become extinct—a phenomenon attributed to the fact that both you and Krista are somehow the only human beings left in this world, since every other person has been annihilated by some cataclysmic event. Every airport you visit is thus filled with mysterious glyphs that are now the predominant language for this universe. You can figure out what these are—these symbols are actual ciphers that can be deciphered instead of random gibberish—but it’s not really necessary for getting around if you’d rather spend your time wandering the endless aisles of the airport.

Doggedly good fun

Yet even though Dog Airport is set in this alien, post-apocalyptic-esque universe, it’s far from a bleak game. For the most part, the dogs are affectionate and the drinks are plentiful. And by drinks, I mean fresh, artisanal toilet bowl liquid, which is the choice of beverage for the bulk of the game’s furry denizens. 

It’s jokes like these that permeate Dog Airport, which adds to its frankly ludicrous and campy atmosphere. Found in the airport are stores filled with fire hydrants and toilet bowls—serving as both restrooms and well, water coolers I suppose, for doggo travellers. There are also rows of shops that sell briefcases, cabinets, books, space souvenirs and other sorts of paraphernalia mostly fit for human activities—an odd inclusion, except that these dogs are absolutely fascinated by them even if they could not find a practical use for these items. What’s more is that these lovable creatures also have no concept of capitalism, so dog storekeepers will happily give these objects away for free if you would like one. Plus, most dogs you run into will sprout one-liners about their canine thoughts and mishaps, like a wee pup who has somehow earned the rights to be an honorary cat, much to his delight. Like their real-life counterparts, the dogs here are all extremely good and endlessly endearing.

Some parts are ruff

Despite its eccentric veneer, Dog Airport soon wears out its welcome in the later half of the game, as it regresses into a cyclical loop of events, to the point where you’ll become acutely aware that you’ve reached the limits for most of its interactions. The dog obsessed with cabinets is the same pooch across all planets; the shopkeeper of the space souvenir store will repeat the same non-sequitur wherever island they’re based in; and the puppy pilots will talk about the hollowness of space flight once too frequently, no matter where you go. And while the idiosyncrasies of the different destinations—from the dizzying curves of Uranus (aka the “butt planet”) to the dense, lush forests of Elf Planet, dotted with tornadoes that can swoosh you upwards to higher ground—bolsters the game’s fascinating and whimsical mood, they can also get intensely frustrating to traverse. Perhaps this is a sardonic statement, directed at the anxiety of speeding across aisles just to get to the right boarding gate during pre-pandemic days.

Ultimately, what guides the trajectory of this voyage in Dog Airport is your relationship with Krista, which is surprisingly tender and heartwarming. It’s the contemplative, and sometimes mournful conversations you have with her, the reminiscing of older days, and the gentle banters you trade with one another, that makes every reunion with her a poignant.one. For a game that’s predominantly moulded in the surreal humor of the internet, I wasn’t expecting to be swept away by all these feels.