Double Pug Switch, the debut project from indie developer The Polygon Loft, is a platformer that sees you take command of a dimension traveling pug across 32 bite-sized levels. It's out now on all recent platforms and only costs £6.99 here in the UK, but does it warrant your attention?
In Double Pug Switch you play as an adorable pug named Otis, and the story starts with you lost in a deep sleep on the floor of your owner's laboratory. This momentary bliss comes swiftly to an end after your feline companion Whiskers, being a typical cat, causes a portal to open up after knocking over vials of portal fluid. Your goal is simple - to make your way out of this strange new dimension and make it back home before naptime starts again. It isn't the most imaginative narrative I've seen, but I am aware that it is simply a vessel to help give purpose to all the wacky dimension-bending mechanics that later filter their way in.
Double Pug Switch is in essence a side-scrolling endless runner where the goal is to make it to the end of the stage by avoiding the many hazardous obstacles in your path. A unique mechanic that Double Pug has though is that you can shift between dimensions at any point by hitting the B button (on Switch). You'll need to constantly shift between these dimensions in order to avoid traps and make platforms appear. The later stages layer upon this mechanic well with beams that automatically shift dimensions and areas that cause you to shrink to micro-size.
Helping to aid replay ability and adding an extra dose of challenge for those insane enough to seek it are coins that are scattered through each stage. These coins can be exchanged for some pretty hilarious headgear with my favourite being the brain slug, which is a clear reference to Futurama. There's both gold coins and purple coins here, with the gold coins being the easiest to grab, but also rewarding you less items, whereas the purple coins are the most valuable collectibles in the game, and are often placed in the trickiest of areas. Personally, I didn't spend too much time going back to look for these, but at least being able to parade your pug around in the silliest outfits isn't the worst reward for your hard work.
In total there are five different dimensions here and these consist of seven levels and one concluding boss battle at the end. The dimensions here offer little more than a simple palette swap, but they do pepper in their own mechanics to help keep players on their toes. What I did like, however, was the boss battles against Whiskers, who now apparently wants to kill you. These sections help to shake up the mostly repetitive design as there are no checkpoints, and you're tasked with vaulting your way over the oncoming barrage of attacks. Your overall mileage will vary here depending on how well you can grapple with the difficulty and how desperate you are to snatch up all the collectibles.
This all sounds pretty positive so far, but Double Pug Switch's biggest flaw is its crippling difficulty. The checkpoints and lack of game-overs lulled me into a false sense of security at first, but I soon felt levels of frustration that I hadn't experienced since Flappy Bird. I found myself dying tens of times even just in between checkpoints and it deterred me from wanting to continue for more than a few minutes at a time. Eventually, it got the better of me and I ended up abandoning ship even before I could see the rolling of the end credits.
A difficultly selection system would have been nice, but I feel that many of its more frustrating kinks are tied to the level design itself. Double Pug Switch demands you have laser-like focus due to the breakneck speed you're going at, and there's plenty of trial and error required, as you often don't have enough time to react to what's ahead. Sometimes when making jumps it's not clear what is beneath you and then it's up to fate whether you land on safe ground or directly into a pit of spikes. Furthermore, if you get hit once, then that's it, you are dragged kicking and screaming back to the last checkpoint.
Double Pug Switch may look alluring due to its cutesy visuals and low price, but I'd still recommend that you steer clear. Its level design is repetitive despite a few minor shake-ups, and it's hampered with many frustrating moments of trial and error. I do think that it has a pretty attractive visual style and its boss fights are entertaining, but it's still not worth enduring its many difficulty spikes.
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