Curiosity got the better of me. Having reviewed far too many of the trophy bait clicker games over the past year – Disco Cannon Airlines, The Bronze Age and Steam Engine to name but a few – I said to myself that I wasn’t going to do anymore. I was done. I was out.
But then I saw them. A new infestation of the PlayStation store. No, not the Animal and letter games like Sheep P. Nope, not the jumping food games. Not even the crappy clickers from Webnetic. Oh no. This was a new series. A “Stroke The [Insert Animal Here]” series. The cautionary tale about curiosity is that it killed the cat. Here, it made me ‘Stroke The Dog’. I think I might have preferred to be the cat.
Is this what passes for a game these days? Clicker games used to have substance. They used to tap into that primordial urge to improve and persevere. The good ones could make you feel something with just the click of a button. Stroke The Dog fails in every regard on this front.
The game is essentially a stock image of a dog on a dark background. Irritating lift music plays on repeat and each time you press the X button, the images dims for half a second and a counter goes up. That’s it. That’s the entire experience of Stroke The Dog. The dog doesn’t move. It doesn’t change. Press that button once and you’ve seen the grand total of content in this ‘game’. It’s dire really.
Aside from a collection of 71 trophies to unlock, there’s nothing to motivate you to play this. It’s about as fun as clicking on the desktop background image on a PC. Not on any icon or anything. Just clicking mindlessly on the image, which obviously does nothing. There’s no incremental improvements or upgrades. It’s just… clicking without reward.
I hoped in vain that developers Game Achievements Ltd (that probably should have tipped me off that this was going to be asset flipping trophy bait) would do something different with Stroke The Dog. Petting an animal is one of the most awesome and fulfilling experiences in life. This game doesn’t even try to hide that it’s preying on, and exploiting that trait in the title. It borders on false advertising.
What’s even funnier is that it can’t even do the one thing it’s supposed to do correctly. When you click X on the PS4/5 controller, the dog is supposed to make a happy dog sound. At least I presume so. Right now, whenever you click X, the game triggers a cat purring sound effect. That’s right. The Dog purrs. I presume this is an artefact of the developer’s other game – Stroke The Cat – which makes this an obvious asset change and re-publish. The game was just pumped out onto the PS Store to rake in a quick buck with little attention or care.
That extends to the pause menu. If you attempt to pause the game (I don’t know why I did, but I did), then a screen appears to say that your dog ran away and a new one has appeared. For whatever mentally cracked reason, the image stays the same but this resets the count of the strokes. Yup. Pause the game and whatever clicking progress you’ve made is set to zero. If you’re aiming for the Stroke The Dog trophies (which will take just a few minutes to unlock), this will reset your progress towards them. It’s complete trash.
Sony, This is for you: I paid more than £3 for Stroke The Dog in order to review it. That’s £3 too much. When I say this is “barely a game”, this isn’t hyperbole. It’s no exaggeration to say that I could make this game in Unity in an hour. With a few stock photographs, I could replicate the entire library of games that Game Achievements Ltd have published on PS4 in a day. All of these games lack any artistic merit and are instead manipulating digital rewards to prey upon gamers that are addicted to trophies. It’s abusive. The fact that this game and all of them like it are still for sale on your store is an embarrassment. It’s an embarrassment that you allow these games to take up precious store visibility space on the PSN where developers are already struggling to sell their games. It’s an embarrassment for the developers whom have made a game so poor that it can’t even trigger a dog sound when a dog is stroked. I’m embarrassed myself that the trophies for Stroke The Dog will now forever be attached to my PlayStation account. Please. I implore you. Address this issue.
If you’ve made it this far into this review of Stroke The Dog, I’m going to presume that you care about the artistic integrity of gaming, so I’m going to explain why I’m breaking from a standard here. At Finger Guns, we have a review policy that clearly outlines what type of game quality deserves which type of review score. 10/10 is essential. 5/10 is average. 1/10 is terrible. 0/10 is reserved for those games that are “unplayable because of glitches, bugs or crashes”. I’m breaking from this standard for Stroke The Dog. Technically, the game should get 1/10. But honestly, that score is too high for this clear and obvious abuse of capitalism and reward systems to simply take money from gamers without any return. The fact that the dog purrs is just the icing on the cake.
This is most egregious and content light trophy bait clicker to hit the PS4 to date. Stroke The Dog is an abomination, preying upon trophy hunters and dog lovers with the cheapest of cheap asset flips. This is little more than a single stock image of a dog, some royalty-free music and, inexplicably, a cat sound effect. Easily the worst ‘game’ I’ve played in my lifetime, and I hesitate to call it a ‘game’ at all.
Developer: Game Achievements Ltd
Publisher: Game Achievements Ltd
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, a copy of the game was purchased. For our full review policy, please go here.
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