PlayStation Vita Pets Review: Watch dogs have more fun than their owners

  • Posted June 8th, 2014 at 18:04 EDT by Alex Machado

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PlayStation Vita Pets

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PlayStation Vita Pets struggles to teach an old dog new tricks. It takes a few steps forward and the same steps back, so a couple of more laps around the obstacle course might be needed before this pooch can storm out of the gate running like a champion.

We like

  • Upbeat orchestral soundtrack.
  • Lush visual landscape and detailed pets.
  • Offers a charming and adventurous campaign.

We dislike

  • Intolerable voice acting.
  • Skill progression is a grind.
  • Slow-paced gameplay can put you to sleep.

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

Furthermore, it does not help that your character walks as slow as a turtle in the first-person perspective. The game’s lush woodland does exhibit branching paths and treasures to uncover, but for the most part, you’re on-rails hiking along a narrow dirt road. All you have to do is press in the direction you want to move onscreen or use the left analog stick to walk forward. Thankfully, the game features a fast travel system by way of tunnels, just in case your patience runs thin from moving like molasses. As expected, just about every characteristic of the Vita hardware is put to work, from the camera and microphone to the touch-screen and tilt function. Some features are clumsier than others – the mine cart and obstacle course mini-games are poorly optimized – but overall, most facets of the system function well. 

If the turtle-speed gameplay doesn’t keep you or your youngster engrossed, I must say that its graphics will try hard to win you over. On a visual scale, the game certainly impresses and gets the Vita hardware working in high gear. The greenery is abundantly vivid and colors flourish the screen with exceptional detail, but the star of the show is – unsurprisingly – your precious pet. The star-in-the-eyes look you get from your pup can steal your soul (now if only the same could be said about that obnoxious voice). Their fur jauntily sways about and gets soiled with dirt after venturing out, calling for a well-earned shower after a long day’s journey into the woods. The soundtrack too adorns the presentation with delight, ushering an orchestral score that puts the pep in your puppy’s step.

It’s difficult not to commend Spiral House for trying to invigorate life into a genre that to many is already dead. Even with notable amounts of visual polish, both children and parents alike might find its repetitive progression system and occasionally vague objectives a bit too arduous to deal with. Animal lovers might connect to the game’s heartfelt efforts, but the apparent design flaws outweigh the developer’s ambition. In this regard, it doesn’t make the impact it wants to, but the endeavor to do so is respectfully showcased and the result is something unique to the genre. 

Alex is a Staff Writer for PSU and a performance major at Florida International University. Perhaps one day he'll find a cure for his uncanny obsession with making Kerotan frog noises. Not that he cares though. But if you do, feel free to advise him on Twitter.
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