It’s a dog’s world, and in the case of Buck, it’s a post-apocalyptic dog’s world. In development by Wave Interactive, Buck is a 2D side scrolling action adventure game. Our protagonist, Buck, is on a mission to find his… girlfriend? It’s not really clear, but that plays well into the dark and mysterious hero narrative Wave Interactive is crafting. Buck must help the residents of Cordova recover resources so they can help him get to the bottom of his mystery as he takes on the dangers of the desert wasteland. Buck is certainly dark; players explore the game’s post apocalyptic wasteland complete with dilapidated buildings and shanty towns, all while its protagonist shares his nihilist thoughts.
There is an odd disconnect in the design here, as most of the characters in this tale are dogs. This includes Buck, based on his designer’s childhood pet, who is the game’s badass canine protagonist. Even brandishing shotguns, it’s hard not to think of these characters as adorable. It seems in juxtaposition to the dismal narrative but the art style manages to mend this. The environments bring the dark story to life and add character.
Currently, Wave Interactive only has one mission playable, but it demonstrates a lot of potential. Buck’s combat system is a combination of melee and gun combat. Buck punches, swings, and shoots his way through groups of enemies who are quick and quite dangerous. Buck does have a forgiving checkpoint system, which softens the blow of taking a shotgun to the face.
There is a combo system which helps the combat move quickly and keep it fluid. The game also features player influenced conversations and a looting system for collecting supplies. Looting enemies for supplies keep your guns loaded and health up.
The playable demo of Buck is a lot of fun, which makes it’s brevity even more painful. It’s terrific fun and looks great. In some ways, it reminds me of LucasArt’s Full Throttle with less pointing and clicking and more action. This game is still a work in progress, but it’s still remarkably good. Even with the issues I experienced, namely unnatural controls and voice work. At first, the controls feel a little unnatural, utilizing both the WASD and arrow keys. I’m embarrassed about the number of times I fired my shotgun because I expected D to move Buck forward. The voice work is a little stiff, but forgivable given the games resources. The creative team consists of only three members, but they offer good range.
The script is dark but the the art style is fantastic. The design team has put a lot of detail into the environments and it pays off, bringing the dismal world to life. Everything from backdrops to the reload animations are unique and interesting. Wave Interactive has plans to expand gameplay to include weapon customization, more missions, and collectibles in the final version. I, for one, want to finish the adventure. What little is available to players is a lot of fun, and there is potential for a great full game here.
Images © Wave Interactive