Haven Review: Herding dog

   Herding Dog is an obvious mobile port of a game about herding animals. The game is entirely mouse driven, you click to move, and bark. Those are literally the only two things you do in the game. The goal is to drive animals from all over the field into a target zone. There are a wide variety of animal from sheep, to goat, to cow. Each animal has it’s own way of moving so each of them means changing up your strategy, or so the game wants you to think. Each animal, more or less, acts the exact same. The only real note is the chicken, which follows you around instead of running away from you. The game also introduces predators that will hunt down and eat the animals you are trying to herd. This sounds a lot more exciting than it is. The foxes and wolves will follow around the animals until they lose all their health and disappear. The way to get rid of the predators is to herd them into their own target area. You don’t actually fight them or anything it’s literally more herding. The foxes are easy to take care of, but the wolves will unrelentingly follow the other animals. One wolf is fairly easy to deal with, but more than one is near impossible not to lose one of your animals. Luckily you can clear the stage with just one animal remaining.

Throughout the Level there are also items you must collect. The game isn’t clear about what these items are. They are just little pieces of shit on the ground called items. You run over one to collect it. The game doesn’t give you a clear indication of where these items are in the level and you must just run around until you find them all. You need to find all the items before the level is complete. So long after you have dealt with all the cows and foxes you are still running around trying to find bits of tiny ass shit on the ground. It’s not enjoyable at all, it’s tedious and boring. Tedious is a good word for the entire game. There really isn’t anything enjoyable about Herding Dog. After the first level you’ve pretty much experienced all that the game has to offer and each subsequent level is just more of the same. Herd the things, find the shit, complete the level. It is the definition of tedium. If the herding were fun then maybe this would be enjoyable, but it’s not. It’s just clicking right behind the animals until they get to where they need to go.

Normally I don’t mention music unless it’s really good or really bad. In Herding Dogs case it’s really bad. It seems to just be a 30 second clip of elevator music repeated ad infinitum. It drills into your mind as you rapidly click behind poorly rendered animals in a big field made of green planes and angles. Like every single mobile game ever this game comes with an arbitrary scoring system. When I say arbitrary, I mean incredibly arbitrary. I felt like there was no real reason for the scores I got. In some cases I would finish a level quickly. I would herd all the animals and collect all the things fast and succinctly. For these efforts I would be rewarded a grade of C+. Other times I would take my time. In one case I got up from my computer to get a snack. When I came back and eventually completed the level, spending even more time finding all the shitty items, I was awarded a grade of A+. If some sort of grading system is going to be implemented in your game, make sure the player knows exactly how they are getting the grade they got. Just like it’s scoring system this game is incredibly arbitrary, and offers nothing interesting to the player.

-Jordan Kamm

herddog