I've completely lost track of the number of terminals I've frantically run through. Everything is written in an incomprehensible alien language and I keep losing my boarding pass in a seemingly bottomless inventory filled with tennis balls and bottled toilet water (don't ask). Bouncing back-and-forth between airports, dazed and confused, it feels like I'm stuck in a perpetual cycle I cannot escape. The only thing signifying that I haven't been cast into one of the nine circles of Hell is the abundant number of friendly dogs—even if they are only paper-thin stock photos.
This is An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs, an adventure game made by Strange Scaffold. Yes, sometimes it gives me vivid flashbacks to turbulent airport experiences, but overall it's a pretty laid-back comedy adventure.
I'm not quite sure how I ended up stuck in this chain of airports, but it has something to do with a dog named Cage Dog, The Dog Who Loves Cages, dropping a piano on my head and then trapping me in a metal box. After escaping, I resolved to traverse the string of interconnected airports and find my fiancée, Krista, helping out different puppers along the way.
I forgive Cage Dog because I can't stay mad at any adorable pooch, and in this universe, dogs are the masters. The joke here is that everything is run by 2D floating stock photos of dogs, maybe that how they see us? Much of Dog Airport is about helping different pups out with their requests, and how could I possibly say no?
Stores are filled with an assortment of dog-loving items, including tennis balls, beds, and even bottled toilet water. The shops, information kiosks, and terminal gates are all staffed by dogs, meaning the laws are a little different. Dogs have no concept of money and so plane tickets and everything in the surrounding shops are all free, although making sure you pet each pooch as a thank you is always welcomed (yes, you can pet the stock photos).
After picking out a single boarding pass from the pile of fifty the ticket dog dumped on the booth, I need to match up the alien language with the right airport gate. Wandering through the airport when you have plenty of time to spare is actually pretty relaxing.
Just chatting to all the dogs is worth the banter, like the golden retriever called Friendly Business Dog who is always delighted to see me every time I visit, or Anxious Dog who confides in me that they peed on the shop's display. There's even a pupperdex, recording what good dogs you've talked to.
Running around helping out different dogs in need may be the main core of the game, but there's a little more to Dog Airport than just weirdly wonderful canine chats. Each time I manage to find Krista at different intergalactic airports, our conversations are tender, if a little distant. My struggle trying to get to the right planet to meet her again—even through the stress of understanding departure times and terminals—is totally worth it. Reminiscing on past times and sharing contemplative thoughts makes our poignant long-distance relationship worth the hassle and, even when my boarding pass bursts into flames after missing a flight, it's just part of the journey.
After an hour or two, Dog Airport tends to repeat a lot of its features and dog interactions, but it's an adventure that I had a good chuckle at nonetheless. You can nab it over on Steam for £15.