More often than not the title of a game can give you a feeling of the subject matter, allowing insight into what you might be dealing with as you play. Dark Souls gives you a title that evokes adventure, menace, and fantasy. Gears of War summons an image of the machines of the battlefield crunching against each other for dominance in a dirty mud-strewn land. Yet there are others that come with no messing and no artful symbolism; games like An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs. So let me tell you more about the best title in gaming history.
An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs starts with you in a sort of cage, situated with your fiancee. And it is here where the development team’s words “welcome to our weird little game” come to the fore. You and your fiancee are the last two humans in the universe and now you have to travel across a few alien airports which are, of course, run by dogs. It’s up to you to travel across the airports, go to the shops, complete tasks for passengers and meet the workers. Oh, and it goes without saying that you’ll also have to pet dogs.
The narrative focuses on all the dogs you meet; dogs who are not just controlling the airports, but found as their passengers as well. Each dog you meet comes with a different personality, yet all will let you chat and find out about their lives. The writing is extremely fun, incredibly witty, and superbly playful. It is a delight to just walk about meeting different dogs and taking in what they have to say or what they want you to do.
The game is played in the first person, as you walk around the airports, with exploration always present. Your main goal is to find out where your fiancee is, so you have to travel from airport to airport, engaging in conversation with passengers. You’ll also need to obtain boarding passes for each destination you want to go to; boarding passes which will take you to some weird and wonderful places. You see, the airports here are found in the middle of a physics-defying universe, whilst others hold giant swimming pools where shops exist in the deep end.
Wherever you are, there are tasks to complete in order to gain entry to the gates of the next destination. For example, one gate manager might need to see a passport and so you’ll have to go to a photo shop to get a passport. But the shop owner there needs something else from someone else, so off you go and get that. You end up looping a load of fetch quests around the most exciting airport you can imagine. And that’s because it’s a place where everyone is nice, no one is trying to kill you and there are dogs to be found around every corner.
The gameplay in An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs works well enough even though the world you inhabit is like a dream and at times seems impossible to navigate. Signs are written in an alien language and there are certain areas where you can rest, allowing time to move forward in quick motion. As you progress through the game the airports get more distracting and huge in their scale, and it’s because of this I feel that if you don’t get or dig the world straight away then you might not get much from this game. This isn’t helped by some basic gameplay and, as the developers mention, the fact that An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs is a very weird game that won’t be for everyone. But in a game where you can endlessly pet a dog with virtual hands, what’s not to like?
Visually and it all comes across like an early 1990’s virtual reality world, designed with floating worlds and platforms where gravity and physics seem to have their own rules. I personally like the world a lot and adore the fact that the more you progress, the stranger it becomes. That love heightens when you consider that the dogs themselves are stock photographs of canines; static images that then move as you walk around them. It’s difficult not to want to stop, talk and pet every dog you encounter. Those visuals are complemented with a nice, trippy soundtrack that is enjoyable on the ears.
The more you play the strange and unique An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs, the more you will be convinced that it has been created with VR in mind; visually and interface-wise it is set up for that. Yet the concept is totally unique and it’s easy to completely buy into a world in which airports are run by dogs. For that reason alone, if you want a game that focuses fully on exploring, chatting to animals and becoming absorbed in another reality then come on in, drink the Kool-Aid and wander around An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs.
An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs is available on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One