Jump Between Dimensions in Indie Platformer Double Pug Switch - Review

Double Pug Switch Portal Fluid Spill

Double Pug Switch is a 2D puzzle platformer from British developer The Polygon Loft.  This one sort of snuck up on me and only came onto my radar a few days before release.  Thanks go to the developer for a copy of the Steam version of the game to allow me to write up this review.  Out of curiosity I also picked up a copy of the game on Android and will cover aspects of this version too.

The basic premise of the game is pretty simple - Whiskers the cat has spilled two test tubes of portal fluid, resulting in both him and you (Otis the pug) being sucked out of the Professor's lab and into an alternate dimension.  You must travel through this alternate dimension in search of Whiskers so that you can both return to reality.

Double Pug Switch Portal
Otis emerges from the portal into one of the levels
The game takes place over 32 fiendish levels across 4 separate dimensions.  After completing this 'core' game there is also the Whiskers of Wrath to tackle, a hardcore dimension which does not feature checkpoints in the levels and will be the ultimate test of your skills.

The first time I played the game I was struck by just how tricky it is.  Don't let the cute graphics and subject matter fool you, there will be levels which drive you mad.  Whilst you will run automatically and only need to worry yourself with two buttons, I often found myself hitting the wrong button, or just getting flustered with the quick movements.  One of your buttons is for jumping  whilst the other allows you to switch between 2 dimensions and become your interdimensional twin.  

Double Pug Switch Dimension Shift
Switching between Otis and his interdimensional twin
The key with everything you are doing in the game is timing.  Your run speed is a constant so you have to learn how to time things based on this pace.  Not only do you need to jump between various platforms, you also need to dodge spikes and determine which dimension each of the platforms is on.  This is helped by each dimension having a different colour scheme but frustration builds up quickly when you hit the jump key instead of the switch key, or get mistime your switch and find yourself falling through the platform you wanted to land on, or even landing on some spikes.  Jumping isn't just as straightforward as hitting the jump key.  a quick tap will make Otis do a small hop, whilst a longer press will result in a longer and higher jump.

Each level (with the exception of boss levels and those within the Whiskers of Wrath content) have two checkpoints.  I've found that these are often conveniently located just before the areas I'm having trouble with, but that does not make them even spread through the level.  Rather than being at ~33% and ~66% of the way though the level they vary and you can get a checkpoint very quickly at the start, or feel you have passed a decent amount of the level before hitting one.  I had also expected the levels to get progressively harder as I went through the game, I did find that the difficulty varied and I would have a level I completed within a few tries immediately after one which had taken me a good number of attempts.

Double Pug Switch Spike Impact
Headed towards a platform in another dimension - better watch out for those spikes!
Whilst having a game controlled by two buttons seems like a great idea, I did find that I experienced some issues with this.  Whilst playing with an XBOX controller things weren't too bad with A being jump and B being switch (although my right thumb did start to ache after a while).  On the keyboard however I found it to be really tough.  Jump is bound to Z and switch to X which often led to mis-hits of keys where I'd catch the edge of the wrong key, or even just completely hitting the wrong key in my rush to press something.  Added to the lack of key rebinding this made the keyboard experience less than ideal.  For me having jump and switch bound to the triggers of the controller and perhaps Z and > keys just to make to controls feel more balanced.

When it comes to the Android version, there are a few differences.  The first is cost with the PC and console versions costing £6.99, whilst the iOS and Android versions cost a fraction of that at £1.99.  This reduced cost does come with one drawback however - the dreaded in-app purchases.  These allow you to purchase tokens which can be used to unlock levels without completing the previous ones, or give you faster access to the various hats in the game which you can purchase with coins gathered in the levels and are simply cosmetic items.

Double Pug Switch Android Level Selection
The level select screen on mobile with the option to bypass levels for tokens which are an IAP
The controls do transfer excellently to mobile devices however.  With the simplicity of 2 buttons your screen is basically split into two active zones.  Tapping anywhere on the left side of the screen will cause Otis to jump, whilst tapping on the right will cause a dimensional shift.  Playing on a Galaxy S10 I can honestly say that this will be one of those games that is great to kill some time - whip out your phone, play a couple of levels or runs, get frustrated and turn it off again and at the price it's literally just a cup of coffee.

Whilst I've only put in about an hour or so to each version so far, I can see this being in my regular rotation, especially on my phone.  In the short time I've played I have managed to complete the first set of levels, including the first boss level which is very reminiscent of a Robotnik battle from Sonic, placing me about a quarter of the way through the 'base' content.  I'd say that this probably has a few hours in it for most people, although you can try to maximise everything and gather all of the difficult to reach purple coins and go for that 100% completion.  I think that the price reflects the limited content and I'm sure that as I play on the levels will get progressively harder. 

Double Pug Switch Lord Sker First Battle
Facing Whiskers who has decided to call himself Lord Sker in a boss level - dodge the missiles and avoid the spikes to reach the portal out of the level
Do I think this is a game you should try?  I definitely do - the graphics are great, the soundtrack fits the game very well and the gameplay is smooth.  It's one of those games that is going to be a time sink of 'just one more attempt' or 'one more level before bed' and before you know it, you have reached 2am and you are still playing.  I also think that the price point has been set with the content in mind and the knowledge that you probably have about 5 hours of playtime to get a simple successful run of each level.  Will I be buying any of the IAPs on my phone?  Probably not - this is a game where you get a sense of achievement when you finally manage to pass a level you have been stuck on and buying tokens to bypass that feels like a cheap way out, although I do appreciate that the devs haven't placed each dimension behind a paywall (although the Whisker of Wrath 'expansion' is paid for on mobile and costs around £2).

Double Pug Switch Wrong Dimension
Heading for failure - the orange platform is in the parallel dimension and in the current dimension Otis will fall through it
Double Pug Switch Landed
This time I remembered to switch dimensions and landed on the platform successfully
Double Pug Switch Spikes
Whilst the orange block is in the other dimension and you could run through it, the spike is in your dimension so you need to jump for survival
Double Pug Switch Progress Marker
You will often need to jump and switch dimensions in tight sequence to be able to land a jump. Note the red marker showing where the previous attempt was failed due to not switching dimensions
Double Pug Switch Dino Hat
Wearing one of the many unlockable cosmetic hats whilst running at a device placed by Lord Sker. This device will force you to switch dimensions, useful in this case as it will allow Otic to run through the green block
Double Pug Switch is out now on all platforms at £6.99 for PC and consoles and £1.99 for mobiles.  

Disclaimer: Whilst a Steam key was provided by the developer no further compensation was received, nor conditions imposed, in return for this review.  All thoughts are those of the author.
Jump Between Dimensions in Indie Platformer Double Pug Switch - Review Jump Between Dimensions in Indie Platformer Double Pug Switch - Review Reviewed by Parcival on October 23, 2020 Rating: 5

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