A lot of people tend to make game characters look like themselves when given the option. They think about what it would be like to be transported from this world into a fantasy adventure filled with heroes, villains, and magic. Fewer people imagine their dogs transposed into those same situations.
Enter Corgi Warlock, a game about a corgi saving a kingdom of distressed animals from the malevolent Skeleton Bunny King. Luckily, this corgi has the ability to shoot fire and lightning from a mystical staff, which helps with the whole kingdom-saving thing. Collect corgi gold to recharge your healing and shield abilities or summon flaming corgis when normal magic isn’t enough. Everything here is corgi-based. Well, almost everything. While you can play the game yourself, up to three friends can join you as a fish, a pig, and a pug, all equally magically endowed.
Alex Fleisig, the game’s creator, was an animator at Pixar before he made games, and it shows. The character art is one of the best parts of the game. The expressions on Maia the spell-slinging corgi’s face alternate between wild panic and dopey indifference. The supporting characters and enemies all feel like part of the same cartoony fantasy land. They look so good, in fact, that they contrast with the rest of the game. Many of the backgrounds, particularly the indoor levels, feel recycled, like stock imagery.
Corgi Warlock undoubtedly feels like a garage project. There was a curious disparity in where the polish seemed to go. The spell effects for fireballs, lightning and death rays are simple and kind of dull. But I could watch the canine wizard’s little legs pump her along all day.
Even in its brief running time, the game begins to repeat itself. Dragons, vampires and cyclops wizards all attack you in essentially the same way, and require similar tactics to defeat. As visually distinct as the enemies are, they tend to fall into one of a three categories (meat shield, projectile thrower, or mook).
But even for its faults, Corgi Warlock feels so earnest, it’s hard not to like it. One piece of evidence for the passion and goodwill that went into the project is that Maia, the protagonist, is named after Fleisig’s own corgi. As the game cheerfully eggs you on in your arcane destruction, you almost feel like he’s proud of you, specifically. Like, you know, you’re a good dog, maybe.
The bottom line is, if you go into Corgi Warlock looking for a tightly polished, original gaming experience, you might be disappointed. If you go into it hoping for the ability to kill a giant octopus by giving him seven flaming corgis straight to the face, you’ll probably have a good time.