My puppy, Cosmo, is a wilful and endlessly energetic tornado, which is usually pretty entertaining, even when he's destroying everything, but it might be nice if he chilled out for a wee while. My latest attempt to teach this adorable but obstinate hound some focus involves putting him to work for PC Gamer. His first task? His impressions of Pupperazzi, the dog photography game.
Cosmo lets me know he's ready to play Pupperazzi by barking louder than any creature his size should be able to manage and knocking over his mostly-full water bowl. Or maybe he just wants out of his play pen. He's loud, he's amped and he definitely wants to tear into something. He's ready to be a professional critic.
First stop: a quaint beach where we get some guidance from a small dog in a little raincoat. He sits in his deck chair at the top of the beach, looking over the area like he's holding court. He's gently bossy, and has a surprising amount of gravitas for a furball dressed like a tiny fisherman. If it wasn't already clear, Pupperazzi is disgustingly cute.
Cosmo is unfazed by this cuteness, no matter how many times I enthusiastically point at the screen. He obviously has extremely high standards. As we go through the brief tasks assigned to us by our canine mentor, however, he starts to get into it a bit more, slapping the keyboard with gusto. Could this also have something to do with the muffin crumbs lodged between the keys? Sure. But I choose to believe he's slowly succumbing to the corrupting influence of videogames.
Pretty quickly, more dogs get in touch, giving us a long list of straightforward objectives—snap the lighthouse, find a dog on a skateboard, take a photo of a stylish pooch—that earn us gold bones. Are they solid gold? Gold plated? And where are the dogs getting them? What do dogs even need gold for? I look to Cosmo for answers. He starts biting his tail and falls over.
Gold bones can be spent on new camera filters, lenses and toys at vending machines. Fortunately, dogs are pretty generous with their gold bones, so you'll quickly collect a lot of helpful upgrades, and a genuinely harrowing selfie mode.
Since Cosmo tends to enjoy loud conversations with other dogs, I've been preparing myself for a cacophony of barks, but he seems to find the beach and its fluffy denizens quite soothing. This is in stark contrast to the barking dog in A Plague Tale: Innocence's prologue, which recently sent him into a frenzy for 20 minutes.
The mood changes when I start petting the dogs. Hungry for affection, a wee army of pooches fills the screen, and Cosmo is having none of it. He howls, grunts and sulks under my desk. He shouldn't be jealous—pictures of happy dogs earn you more followers on Pupperazzi's social media platform, dogNET, so I'm petting for clout.
Coaxing him out has to wait, as I find myself a bit preoccupied with a new filter, which is perfect for getting a classy shot of a dog on a yacht. Just look at this majestic seafarer getting ready for his picture.
To repair our friendship, I take Cosmo for a walk. While he's roaming around in the grass, it strikes me how perfectly Pupperazzi has recreated how dogs move, without realistically animating them. Every pup just bounces. All four paws off the ground. It looks ridiculous, but it captures the essence of the bouncy gait that most puppies possess. It's genuinely heartwarming to see a pooch, or better yet, a whole pack, bounding towards you, their tails all wagging.
When I try to get Cosmo's take on the animation, he gives me a big slobbery kiss and then headbutts me. I don't have a clue how to translate that, but he does keep staring at the bouncing dogs, transfixed, if only for a minute or two at a time. It's very rare for him to stay still for any length of time unless he's napping, so it's probably a good sign.
Our striking photographs net us a whole bunch of new followers, but we still have to contend with the fickle nature of social media. Boring photos, too many photos in one day, too many dogs in the shot—they all generate criticism. I'm not convinced there is such a thing as posting too many cute dog pictures in quick succession, though followers of my real Twitter account would likely say otherwise.
I should probably add that this is a social media platform for dogs, not just dog photos. It's just a bunch of dogs who want to see more dogs. Given how excited Cosmo is whenever he sees one of his four-legged pals outside, this tracks. Dogs are lovely, so even the critical comments don't have much of a sting. It's mostly just relentless positivity—what I think I want social media to be more like, even though I'd absolutely be bored of it in a week.
New areas are unlocked as you amass more followers, each with the promise of more dogs and weird photo opportunities. The boardwalk, for instance, is filled with dogs who've gotten all dressed up for a day out. Boots, sunglasses, all sorts of snazzy hats—it's lethal levels of whimsy, primed to explode in a shower of confetti and candyfloss. Just look at this stylish pooch.
He even gets a stamp of approval from Cosmo, who high-fives my monitor. Then we have to take a break when he starts chewing his third ethernet cable.
Another disaster averted, we settle into a nice groove: him chilling out under my desk while I snap dogs, or sitting on my lap while I show him how to take photos. Now, dogs don't have the dexterity to use a mouse and keyboard, but those little paws are great at moving the mouse on its own, and slapping the button to take a picture. Here's a lovely sports-themed one he took himself. So proud.
Some objectives task you with improving an area, like reopening the boardwalk arcade and skatepark. With the former, that's as simple as breaking in by jumping onto the balcony—thanks double jump!—while the latter requires some cleaning up first. Pupperazzi's objectives are carefree doddles, but the extra goals and bump in the level of interactivity add a welcome dash of direction and purpose to what is otherwise a very light sightseeing tour of splendid dogs.
We're taking in the boardwalk after bringing it back to life when Cosmo starts to get extremely hyper. The lad loves a boardwalk. Unable to contain his excitement, he jumps onto my desk, gives a little triumphant howl and knocks over a glass of orange squash.
After the mess is mopped up, it's back to work. We've unlocked a new ability, and I'm extremely eager to try it out. As well as petting dogs and giving them toys, it's eventually possible to dress them up. See a sad, naked dog in need of some flair? Stick some shades on it! Put it in booties! Give that dog a whole new look.
Cosmo and I both appreciate the dress-up system, since I love dogs in costumes, and he'd much rather I pester any other dog with my fashion crimes.
We've got a burgeoning social media presence, we've reinvigorated the local economy and we've dressed up countless dogs—it's been a busy day, and the wee guy is getting antsy. It's been hours since he last devoured a sock or knocked a slice of pizza off the table. It's time for us to leave this puppy heaven. He gives his digital cohorts one last glance before rushing off to savage a toy cow he was given for Christmas.
Juice incident aside, this is the most focused I've seen Cosmo pretty much ever, so I'm counting that as a recommendation from my furry pal. And while my opinion doesn't matter nearly as much as his, I had a lovely time, with only some wee UI niggles, like not being able to pin objectives, getting in the way of the good vibes. I would gladly spend my entire life just taking photos of excellent dogs.
All the photos you save can be found in the Pupperazzi folder in AppData. Here are a few of my faves.