App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Dog Sled Saga is the latest title from Dan FitzGerald, who has made a name for himself on mobile with arcade titles like Firewhip and Dawn of the Plow. True to its name, Dog Sled Saga has you managing your own career as a professional musher in what is FitzGerald's most ambitious and charming title yet.
Dog Sled Saga is not too different from other management games like Punch Club or Motorsport Manager. In it, you're a newly licensed sled racer tasked with managing your own dog team and everything else that comes along with that. You're always looking forward to the next event (usually a race) and preparing for it by choosing how to spend your time. Are your dogs tired? Do they need to be trained? Do you need to hire someone to help you care for them? These questions and more drive the main action outside of racing.
When you hit race day, everything changes from turn-based menus into a real-time environment where you need to manage your team in order to win money so you can upgrade your operation.
Go dog go!
The races in Dog Sled Saga are where all of your preparation can pay off, provided you can manage your sled team well. Unlike other sports management games, in Dog Sled Saga, you take a pretty active role in determining your victory during races.
For starters, you have to make sure your dogs stay well-fed. You do this by tapping and holding on the screen and releasing at the right moment to launch a dog treat into your target dog's mouth. On top of this, you'll need to look out and signal for hazards, command your dogs to keep their proper distances, and untie snagged lines if a dog gets tied up.
This all sounds overwhelming, and it kind of is at first since the game isn't completely explicit about when or why you should do certain things, but it's easy enough to get the hang of it after half a dozen races or so.
Must love dogs
The only real problem I can find with Dog Sled Saga is that it seems like a much more complicated game than it really is. As you play it, the mysteries and challenges of it fall away way before you run out of game to play.
This would be a bigger problem for most other games, but Dog Sled Saga has the benefit of being about dogs--and very cute ones at that--which help keep you drawn into the game. Through the pixel art aesthetic, the personalities of the dogs in Dog Sled Saga shine through thanks mostly due to great art design and smart set of systems designed around dog traits and personalities.
The bottom line
Dog Sled Saga is a really solid management game that will charm you if you have any affinity for dogs. The races might feel like they get a little too easy once you figure them out, but the loop of continuously upgrading stays satisfying throughout.