What is it? A single-player interactive adventure with your favourite dog family.
Release date November 17, 2023
Expect to pay $40/£35
Developer Artax Games
Publisher Outright Games LTD
Reviewed on i5-8400 CPU @ 2.80GHz, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
Steam Deck Unsupported
Link Official site
If you've somehow been living under a rock for the past few years, then let me explain the cultural phenomenon that is Bluey. Bluey Heeler, our titular hound, is the eldest puppy of Chilli and Bandit, and the cartoon focuses on the Australian family, the wild ride of being a parent and the complexities of childhood emotions. It weaves in humour for both adults and children, appealing to all ages—even if you're not a parent, guardian or cool aunt or uncle.
As a mum to an almost three-year-old, I have been watching Bluey for a few years—Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig have no place in my house. In fact, I've been so enamored with it that I admit that I will even watch it on my own. Much like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it is much too good for children alone. I have cried at the Baby Race and Sleepytime episodes (if you say you didn't, you're lying), and the toys Chattermax and Unicorse—a Furby's evolved, nightmarish cousin and an obnoxious hand puppet—are my sworn enemies as an adult who does not enjoy loud toys. In terms of representation, if you don't think Chilli and Bandit are two of the most realistic portrayals of millennial parents, then you need to wise up.
Much like how Bluey is a show for the whole family, Bluey: The Videogame is a fun co-op experience for kids and the young at heart. Naturally, it's very much on the simple side for adult gamers, but it proved rather challenging for my wee boy. It supports controller use only, which is fine for an experienced player like me, but not for my tiny-handed companion who picked my Elite Series 2 controller up by the joysticks then promptly dropped it.
Bluey definitely doesn't have obtuse gameplay by any means: you'll get a brightly light path to clearly demonstrate where you should move items to, and the controls are easy to remember, particularly with the visual prompts. Annoyingly, however, the HUD doesn't update to represent PlayStation controls, so your completely competent gamer gal here was pressing X and jumping around a lot because I didn't realise I was actually meant to press square. I can't help but feel that there are a lot of children out there who will figure that one out quicker than I did.
You should be in a tree, leaf
There are lots of little collectibles to find that fans of the show will recognise, represented in the form of stickers and toys. There are five key locations to visit, with 12 collectibles to find per area. Finding these items like Chilli's hockey sticks or little leaves eventually reveals a happy family photo of the Heelers, and collecting these items gives you progress towards unlocking a cute selection of hats and other wearables.
While the obvious hand-holding makes the game easier for kids, you're not railroaded into playing it in only one way. You can select the map to move on to the next episode or explore in the sandbox, where you can activate the minigames at your leisure, switching between characters to find collectibles and, of course, playing dress-up. You can create a unique look for each character using the butterfly wings and hats, and there's a nice link back to the show here, as equipping items like the branches crown on Bluey makes her quote "I'm the greedy queen!" from the episode The Adventure.
The main story consists of collecting treasure map parts from Bandit, Uncle Stripe and Uncle Rad, and you'll unlock a little minigame per episode. It's mostly a point and click with some mild puzzle solving, like moving a big plant back and forth to shake a monkey out of it or jumping on Dad's back to reach a toy. The minigames are a lot of fun to play together, and even when my son wasn't there it was a good laugh to play Balloon Keepy-Uppy and The Ground is Lava with other adults. There's just something about a minigame aimed at kids that brings out an ultra competitive streak in adults, isn't there?
The fridge doesn't like me
If playing with a little one, you can lead them around to complete the missions in a timely fashion—it couldn't be me—or you can let your co-pilot lead the way. You can interact with a lot of items and objects, and while playing as Bluey and Bingo I did a lot of kid-like stuff, like leaving cupboard doors open, picking things up off the table and dropping them on the floor and, of course, jumping on the bed. Basically just roleplaying as my toddler while he was causing chaos around me. The interactivity makes the sandbox more playful, and there's no loading screens between the rooms of the Heeler home, which makes it feel like you're watching an actual episode.
While the voice acting and music from the show is all there, it's not been cut together all that well. The dialogue can be a little stop-start in places and cutscenes often interrupt the flow of the story, though I am absolutely living for any cutscene where Bandit gets roasted by other adults. The animation perfectly captures the vibe of being someone who is responsible for a child and is At Their Limit. There were issues with the audio looping at the end of a sequence, and Bluey says the same line every single time she picks up an item—I'm sure young kids won't mind, but as an adult on the hunt for every last collectible, hearing "It's so pretty" ad nauseam was starting to rot my brain.
It's cute, colourful and simple, and it runs perfectly fine on my GTX 2060, which you would expect given the baseline requirement is a GTX 960. It's worth noting that my Steam Deck did not enjoy Bluey, but it isn't Verified so I'm not particularly fussed—who wants a toddler near their Steam Deck, anyway? I don't have infinite dollar bucks, unlike the Heelers with their massive house. I know Chilli and Bandit have good jobs—airport security and an archaeologist respectively—but they live in Sydney, so how do they afford a house this size with two kids in this economy? That's the real mystery of Bluey, not where the treasure is buried.
This isn't the '80s, Pat!
I got a good laugh at age-related jokes, like Bluey saying "the olden days'' in reference to Bandit's childhood ("You mean the '80s?") and Chilli's incredulous "IT CAN FIND STAIRS?!" when the Furby-esque Chattermax runs rampant around the house. As a mum, I too am shocked when it turns out that my son's favourite toy, Sheepy, has eaten his peas (they are on the floor) or when he says "Mummy's too old to dance!" (I'm 32). During the section where you have to chase Chattermax, he yelled encouraging things like "Quick, quick, quick!" and "Rubbish jump, Mummy!" to keep me motivated. That's the kind of family bonding you want from a video game.
Bluey offers a lot of replayability for the kids—big and small—and there are enough jokes to keep adults engaged whether they enjoy gaming or not. For those who don't have a guide editor's mind, the collectibles are challenging enough to find, too, which no doubt little ones will enjoy gathering. It's worth noting, however, that Bluey is very short—under four hours to complete and find everything—so I'm not entirely convinced the price tag is worth it.
Developer Artax Games has managed to capture the look and spirit of the show, and Bluey: The Videogame delivers on the promise of giving kids something that feels like a new episode that they can interact with, even if it is far too brief for the price and sometimes rough around the edges. While I've given it a 60, my son's score is a little different. When we watch the show together he always asks for "One more Bluey". After playing the game, it was "Five more Bluey!" Unfortunately that doesn't fit into PC Gamer's score box.