At PSX I met Miguel from Spooky Squid Games to talk about their upcoming game, Russian Subway Dogs.
Miguel, can you tell us a little bit about the game.
Russian Subway Dogs is an action-arcade game inspired by real-life stray dogs on the Moscow Metro. There are actually dogs in Moscow that have learnt how to navigate the subway system. They commute, they go into the downtown to steal food. To areas where there’s lots of fast food and people eating fast food to steal from and then they’ll commute back at the end of the day to the suburbs to find a safe place to sleep where they won’t be disturbed. I read about them and I thought this is a really interesting setting for a game. So we created one.
It sounds really unique. So what inspired you guys to develop for the Vita?
So, I just love the Vita myself as a player. It’s one of my favourite handheld systems. This was originally a jam game and we’ve had versions of it kicking around while we’ve been working on other projects. I’ve actually had it running on the Vita for something like 4 years, with a much simpler version of it. We weren’t working on it full time, but once we did (start working on the game full-time) I thought since we already have it running on this system that I love, let’s show it to people that love the Vita and it means that when I go back to play it, I can play on my favourite handheld.
That’s great to hear. So what’s the aim of the game?
You’re basically trying to keep yourself alive. So you’re trying to make sure that you’re constantly eating food and that you’re watching out for rival subway wildlife, like bears and elk. It gets more complicated than the simple catching food mechanic. You’re wandering behind people, scaring them with your bark and then catching the food out of the air. Some people are carrying around vodka. Its high-proof, high-quality vodka and therefore extremely explosive. Those explosions can be used to get rid of rival dogs and can also be used to cook the food which makes it extra tasty and worth more points. So you’re juggling vodka, grabbing food out of the air and then dealing with all these other types of wildlife.
The game is like an ice berg with a simple game on top and underneath that, there’s a whole bunch of systems. For instance, the bears, if you feed them some food to fatten them up and then if you hit them with enough vodka you can cook them and then the delicious bear meat comes out. But if they (the bears) eat chocolate, which is toxic for dogs, they’ll get poisoned, and if you cook them before they die from toxic chocolate they’ll produce poisoned meat which will travel through the food chain.
Similarly, all of the power ups in the game also work for all of the wildlife and rival dogs. So the hot sauce gives you fireballs but it can allow pigeons to drop fire from the sky and give bears an extra big fire attack when it swipes at you. So all the systems are interconnected in a complex way for players to discover and then learn how to exploit to get the highest score.
Will there be multiple levels or is the game an endless survival mode?
So there is an endless/survival/score-attack mode. Which is what we’re showing here (at PSX). We’re also working on a campaign with set levels with a specific set of enemy types and with, kind of, Tony Hawk style sub-challenges. Where it will be like, “can you beat the level but also keep the bear alive?” So you’ve got an angry bear on the level and you are defending him from vodka explosions. Or “can you beat the level with a vegetarian diet?” We also have a boss that we’re working on, that we haven’t revealed yet. Out of Slavic folklore and just like a huge sprite, Metal Slug style, giant boss. Which I’ve always wanted to do in a game.
Awesome. Can we expect a platinum trophy?
I don’t know yet. I’ve got to talk to Sony.
Sure. What’s the target release date?
Also unknown. We want to get it to that point where we feel it’s really ready. We keep on adding new stuff to it and getting new ideas. We want to release the best version we can.
That’s good to hear. Any closing words for the audience?
Look forward to barking at commuters some time in 2018!
Check out the Russian Subway Dogs PS Vita Impressions: