Fierce Tales: The Dog’s Heart is an intriguing concept that struggles a bit in the execution. It’s almost like the game developers got together and worked up a really unique idea and then glossed over several details.
To begin with, the storyline is rather haphazard. It’s like your crazy Uncle Willard, launching into one of his old Vietnam War stories. He just starts in the middle and assumes that you’ll figure out the characters and the point along the way.
From what I can tell, the plot involves packs of marauding dogs terrorizing a town. You presume some “Pied Piper-like” character is behind the mayhem, but you only see this person in shadows in the beginning. The action opens on a happy-go-lucky young man (Terry Sherman, by name) tramping through the snow with a bouquet of flowers in hand. In the blink of an eye, the poor soul is being forced off a cliff by three snarling dogs.
Cut to your warm fireside with your darling terrier, Pippa, beside you. A peek at a paper on the table confirms your expertise: Doctor of Cynology. (That is, dog expert for those of you a little rusty on your Latin terminology.)
Newspapers littered about your den show the backstory of the terrorizing animals and poor Mr. Sherman dead on his wedding day. Soon Pippa wants to frolic about outside. Before you know it she’s snatched by the cunning canines, and you must solve mysteries and give chase to get her back.
Even at this early stage, my mind is abuzz with questions. You are supposedly a canine expert living in a town terrorized by dogs, but you only get involved after little Pippa is snatched? What kind of person are you? And, these rabid, evil creatures — what? — gently pick Pippa up and tuck her away? They are marauding dogs! I’ve seen some mean dogs in my day, and they’d sooner tear that terrier limb from limb right in your own front yard than give her a second thought.
As for the game play in Fierce Tales: The Dog’s Heart, it’s fairly straightforward. Plenty of hidden object areas and “hunt and gather” scenes with a few mini-games thrown in to mix it up a bit, most on the easier side of the difficulty scale. Some hidden object games have items (shown in blue) that require a second action. Trouble is, several other items (not in blue) did, too. So, at first blush, if you don’t see something you wonder, “Am I just not spotting it or should this item have been in blue, as well?” See what I mean about poor execution?
The graphics are serviceable, but nothing visually stunning. And, the audio is unexceptional. I will admit that Pippa is pretty darn cute (I have a soft spot for terriers), and I’d probably do just about anything to rescue her, too.
Beyond the premise, there are other logic gaps in the game play that just don’t sit well with me. (If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know how much I love a good story.) For example, there is one protracted piece of activity, involving making a bullet. In various screens you collect an empty shell, buckshot, and gunpowder. Then, you track down the contraption to make the bullet. You go through all of these contortions, finally loading your rifle. You proceed outside and — wait for it — shoot the lock off of a gate. Track with me here… you are in a town terrorized by marauding dogs, and you waste your one precious bullet (that took you forever to make) on a gate? What? You can’t climb over?
Even stranger, the gate leads to the “town detective’s house.” You walk in only to find his dead body. However, you proceed to mill about his house finding inventory items and solving hidden object areas. You even go so far as to take glass “lab slides” to get his fingerprints in order to solve a fingerprint-activated lock in his study. Let me get this right. You will take a corpse by the hand to get his fingerprint, but you won’t call the undertaker to fetch him in all his rigormortis-ed glory? That’s just weird.
Even better, after wandering around the dead man’s house (with the dead man in it), you finally come to a conclusion and announce, “The more I get into this mystery, the more I’m convinced that the Dean family has something to do with it!” The Dean family? Who the heck are they? Did Uncle Willard write this?
I will give the game developers of Fierce Tales: The Dog’s Heart props for finding a fascinating subject that has nothing to do with vampires or Victorian mansions. I just wish they’d employed a continuity person (or even a proofreader) to flesh out the details and sew up the loose ends.