An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs Review
An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs – or simply “Dog Airport Game”, as suggested by developers Strange Scaffold – envisions a distant future where all that remains is a network of intergalactic airports (for aliens) run by dogs. Static, stock photographs of dogs, but still unmistakably dogs. They’re loyal, friendly and always ready to help you, one of only two surviving human beings left in the universe, get to where you need to go.
Right now you’re probably wondering if this is a real video game or if I’m just having a psychotic break. Well, yes to both, but “Dog Airport Game” (let’s just call it DAG) is an actual thing that exists. But what is it exactly? Good question! I’m still not sure myself. It’s certainly narrative-focused, but I feel “walking simulator” would be a far too reductive descriptor. There’s some actual gameplay to experience here, though much of it will be of the walking variety.
The other remaining human caught up in this absurd reality just so happens to be your fiancé, Krista. She’s working with the finest scientific dog minds on a top secret project and likes to spend her free time meeting up with you at different airports. But to first leave an airport and go find her, you’ll need a boarding pass from the pugs with short-term memory loss, along with either a passport from the frequently lamp-obsessed Photo Dog, or maybe a random object for Bribe Dog (who may or may not be sitting in for Passport Dog), all while locating the correct terminal gate by matching it with the alien language on your ticket and finally being able to board a plane.
You’ll frequently repeat this fetch (huh huh) quest process as you meet Krista at new airports and return to previous locales (and yes, layovers are a thing). Of course, It’s all based around the core DAG experience: talking to dogs. Most of these good boys and girls are simple “Pedogstrians” blissfully mulling about the place, but some have their own unique side stories that may require you to bring them special items found at other destinations. Quests are updated via your Pupperdex, which makes it easy to keep track of which dogs can be found at which airports. You’ll quickly realise there’s no reason to actually go through the trouble of completing these side diversions, though, other than making the dogs happy… but really, what other reason do you need? Help the dogs.
From the moon of Phobos to the sunny boardwalk of Beachwell and the Marinara Trench’s vast lake of what may not be blood but probably is, each airport has its own distinct, low-poly theme. But no matter where you are in DAG, you can expect to partake in a fair amount of waiting. The game world operates on a 24-hour clock, and you’re only able to board flights within 90 minutes of take off. For a truly authentic airport experience you could spend a couple of hours just hanging around, but there are options if you want to get on with the story. Most conveniently, the flow of time itself can be manipulated, either by sitting in a waiting area to slightly speed up the clock (good for when you’re only a matter of minutes early), or by finding a time booth to stand in (when you need a few hours to fly by).
You may also desire a little assistance when it comes to navigating the spacious airports, and that’s where shop items come into play. Without giving too much away, experimenting with different item combinations can result in moments of emergent gameplay where DAG feels more like a candy-coloured parody of immersive sims like Deus Ex and Prey than a cute story-game about relationships and jpeg dogs. Everything is free because dogs have no concept of monetary value, so maybe try to resist making the same mistake of hoarding items in your bottomless inventory like I did. It’s not very convenient when you need to produce a passport and have to first scroll through multiple energy drinks, rolls of toilet paper, a Lovecraftian orb and the cup of coffee that’s twice your size.
Still, it adds to the comedy factor, and that’s where DAG truly excels. While the initial hilarity of petting stock photos may not last forever, the writing itself rarely misses a beat. Every dog you encounter – whether it’s suffering from a crippling existential crisis, a drunk golden retriever puppy that works as a pilot, or Cage Dog, The Dog Who Loves Cages – is imbued with a level of love and affection that makes it feel like so much more than a literal 2D library asset. Then there’s the human relationship that forms the heart of DAG. Judging by their unrelenting “couple banter”, I get the feeling these two spent an unhealthy amount of time on Reddit and Twitter prior to the mysterious dogpocalypse, but it always feels genuine.
To the Moon
An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs is a straight shot of hope and optimism into the grotesque procession of inevitability we call life. It does resemble a six hour long internet meme, and when you break it down it’s really just a series of funny conversations with cute pictures, but I never asked for anything else. It is funny, it is cute, the ending put a lump in my throat, and frankly I think we’d all be better off if dogs were running the show.
If not for me, at least play it for Chad Shakespeare.
An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs is now available on PC and Xbox Series X/S.
Review copy provided by the publisher.