Pew Paw, developed by waterxmelon and published by Atriagames is a surprisingly middling game; not too bad, but also not too good either.
Set in a post apocalyptic variety of settings, Pew Paw sees you – an unnamed player – and your faithful pug as you survive the endless hordes of zombies in what can best be described as an Enter the Gungeon-like style of gameplay – You have a single weapon you can upgrade by purchasing in-game lootboxes (Without a premium real-world currency, mind), and for the most part, it functions near-identically to Enter the Gungeon.
…However, Pew Paw lacks a lot of the polish and depth of something like Enter the Gungeon. Look, I’ll be frank with you – I’ve played Enter the Gungeon for many a hundred hours, and the gameplay is one of the key factors that has it’s hooks so damn deep into me.
So perhaps that’s why Pew Paw just fails to captivate me on any level; zombies are armed with a variety of weapons, from bolt action rifles to assault rifles to bombs and acidic projectiles… But they all have one thing in common. The hitbox tracking on all of these incoming projectiles are extremely off. No pixel-perfect dodging or weaving here. You need to assume and prepare for an enlarged hitbox on every projectile you face – Now, the game is easy enough where this doesn’t really matter, but when you’re bobbing and weaving through a horde of 15 zombies or more, you kinda want to feel like a badass dodging every shot instead of facing the fact that due to the poor hitboxes you’ll just need to pray and tank it straight to the face.
Speaking of face value, the dog that accompanies you and literally makes up a half of the game’s title is about as shallow as a puddle. No petting the dog, no barking, no panting, and no customisation. The dog’s only purpose is to get stuck on walls and to point out the location of ammo, health and upgrade pickups – This, however, can become a clusterfuck when you have dozens of unclaimed boxes of ammo or upgrades because asides from health, every pin coming off the dog is a shade of yellow – It all meshes together like a spiked ball, and would be hard to discern on something like a Switch screen, if this were to ever be ported to the system.
The game’s also a bit of a piece of technical blotching paper as well – Screen tearing, shaking and a locked framerate of 30fps regardless of your specs made me turn off the game every half an hour or so due to the shakiness of terrain objects like roads – I couldn’t focus on anything when I had mentally pointed it out, and it really ruined the experience. Double this with a surprising lack of pickup noises and you have what can only be described as a game that reeks of ‘College student’s first game’. No disrespect to any college students out there; in fact if this were a part of a college or university project, I’d personally give it the winning prize.
…But as a saleable, marketable product it falls flat. The gimmick of upgrading your gun with a wide variety of parts sounds good at first, and opening the lootboxes does provide some catharsism, but when you find out that nearly every piece in the game is level gated, and that you’ll have to play the same level another half-a-dozen times, you just stare, yawn, and turn it off to go play something else.
Pew Paw is a perfectly serviceable game – The art and menus are fantastic and the overall premise is great, but the actual gameplay and repetitive, grindy nature leans towards this being possibly a better fit for the mobile crowd instead of the PC or console crowd. I’d happily sink time into a game like this on my phone, and if it’s a personal project or a piece of academic coursework, then fair fucking play. You’ve done a great job waterxmelon. But if not, and Pew Paw was solely developed to get cash out of my wallet, then I’m sorry, but it’s back to the drawing board.
I give Pew Paw a: