An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs (or Dog Airport Game for short) is a game about talking to stock photos of dogs that run airports in space.
Like a real airport it can be a nightmare to navigate, but it does have a Rough Collie embarrassingly telling you it listens to ska on the weekends, so there’s that.
A Dog is A Game’s Best Friend
You might think talking to JPEGs of dog breeds would get a bit… flat, but this Dog Airport Game runs with that concept, and nails it. Whilst exploring the games different space-airports you’ll meet a colourful cast of characters, all of whom have believable, and oddly human, lives.
There’s an excellent mix of genuinely funny, heartfelt, and tragic stories that get told alongside the games main narrative, which sees your character continually meeting with their fiancee across the galaxy. On the surface this universe Strange Scaffold has made doesn’t really make any sense, but that seems to be the point. It’s so absurd that hearing from a dog they’re “riddled with anxiety” ends up fitting right in.
It isn’t just JPEGs of Dogs either, as the idea is stretched as far as it can go, which leads to some excellent surprises that I don’t want to spoil.
Everything about the writing of this Dog Airport Game feels entirely genuine. Whether it’s feverishly outlandish or grounded in reality, I bought into it wholesale.
Making Airports Fun is Hard
Airports are hell to navigate at the best of times, but when everything’s written in an alien language and the attendees are too busy sniffing their own butts, it turns into something much worse.
On the surface, Dog Airport Games use of signage, layout, and time mechanics is an interesting way to force the player to get to know each airport like the back of their paw. However immediately underneath the fairly simple to understand mechanics, you’ve got plenty of tedium.
The first time I explored each airport I was meeting a colourful cast of characters, exploring shops, figuring out how alien signage works and even manipulating some time travel mechanics to get to my gate on time. It took me a minute to wrap my head around it all, but it was great fun.
The second, third, and fourth time I explored each airport though I was reminded of why we all hate them. They’re too big, confusing, and you’re always rushing to get to a gate even though you’ve got hours to spare. Dog Airport Game can’t seem to escape this apparent fact of the universe, that for the most part airports are vapid places that eventually suck the joy out of everything. Having to backtrack through them was not something I enjoyed.
An Airport for Aliens Currently Run By Dogs is unlike anything I’ve ever played, for better and for worse. The originality and creativeness of the concept shine through because they’re accompanied by incredibly strong writing. Sadly though it left me at times feeling how we all do once we’ve shopped at duty free and are waiting at our gate, quite blasé about the whole affair.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Reviewed on Xbox Series S