If you’ve ever wanted to take control of a gang-banging dog on a mission to protect your neighbourhood from rival gang-banging dogs, you’re in luck – War Dogs Red’s Return does exactly that, putting you in the shoes of Red as he sets off to clean up his neighbourhood with his fists. Well, paws.
War Dogs Red’s Return is a side-scrolling beat ’em up from developer Mito Games. At times it is hard to decide if the game is trying to be genuinely gritty or if it has its tongue firmly in its cheek, and as a result, much of the humour misses the mark.
Adding to this is the fact that the storyline jumps all over the place without any real purpose or cohesion. Starting off on the streets as you defend your neighbourhood bar from a rival gang, you’re soon beating up a pirate dog in a harbour before going toe-to-toe with a cyborg. Pirates and robots sound cool, so why wouldn’t you want to beat them up? But at the same time, why are they here?
For this reason the story is rather forgettable, and although it starts with some direction as you set off to defend your neighbourhood, that purpose is quickly forgotten about as the game gets going. I didn’t really care about Red or his neighbourhood, and the characters that were introduced were shallow and lacked any depth. This reduced the game to a series of encounters taking place one after another, broken up by the odd boss battle or forgettable cut scene.
Unfortunately the storyline is not rescued by the gameplay. Red has some pretty basic moves that are available from the beginning, with only 1 new mechanic unlocking during the course of the game.
Lacking much in the way of variety the game is quickly mastered, and each fight becomes a balancing act of throwing punches and kicks while you wait for the few special moves in your arsenal to recharge. None of the battles are very difficult, and they all subsequently fall into this cycle with no real strategy to any fight. There is a block button, but I didn’t need to use it.
Each level has a short playtime too, with each taking me no more than a few minutes to complete. All told I was able to complete War Dogs Red’s Return in about an hour, plus a couple more to mop up the trophies.
There are a few additional missions outside of the campaign including a horde mode, but they offer nothing new as there are no extra moves to unlock or additional enemies to beat.
Upon completion, each mission is given a grading and you are awarded gems and points that can then be used in the in-game store to customise Red if that’s your thing. These are largely cosmetic items, so should you wish to dress Red up as an alien as he wanders the streets to pummel puppies, you can fill your boots.
A slight saving grace is that some of the items you unlock do have stats attributed to them. These cubes and circuit boards offer no cosmetic change but they do improve Red’s fighting prowess, such as increasing damage or speeding up the recharge for special moves. Ultimately this becomes a double-edged sword. I made sure to boost my power above all else, making an already easy game even easier.
War Dogs Red’s Return does try its best to be a good game, but it fails to stick the landing. A forgettable story, short length and lack of combat moves or customisation all combine to create a lacklustre experience. This one is best left to the side-scrolling diehards or the trophy whores that want a quick and easy platinum trophy.
War Dogs Red's Return PS5, PS4 Review
War Dogs Red’s Return is fun but woefully short and shallow. There are worse games in the genre, but sadly for War Dogs, there are plenty of others that do it better. The poor story and lack of any real challenge means that this is one game I am unlikely to play ever again.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS5.