Review – PAW Patrol World
With another PAW Patrol movie on the horizon, comes another video game version looking for the cash grab. However, unlike PAW Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls, PAW Patrol World isn’t directly based off the movie. You can always rely on Outright Games to publish your kids’ favorite show’s tie-in game, but I wish they had better quality control for some of these games, because they can be a bit hit or miss at times. PAW Patrol World is brought to us by the same team behind Race With Ryan and PAW Patrol: Grand Prix, which weren’t the most polished and fun kids games we’ve played to put it lightly, and unfortunately, it seems this one follows that pattern.
For the first time in PAW Patrol gaming history, we get to freely explore open maps inspired by the TV show. You’ll have a playground in Adventure Bay, Jake’s Mountain, The Jungle, and Barkingburg. You’re able to play as your favorite pup and even freely hop into their vehicles to explore and help out the town. The PAW Patrol Day Festival is almost here, but Mayor Humdinger and his Kitten Catastrophe Crew aren’t too happy about that. They have been going around in their super blimp, causing some very unmeaningful mayhem, but it’s just enough for the pups to take action and help out the town. So I sat my six year old down with me to play some couch co-op and the results were not what I expected.
I let my son do the tutorial first so that way he can get a grasp of the controls and general gameplay loop, and as expected it was extremely basic. So basic he even asked “is that it”? He wasn’t wrong to ask this because as we very quickly found out, yeah, that was it. The entire tutorial was: Walk, jump, follow path to circle, change to required pup, tap square. This is the entire gameplay loop for the whole game. There is no variety in the interactions, there are no unique mini-games, there are no fun activities to do. The entire game is reach your destination, change into the pup that needs to do the job, tap square to complete. No other interactions needed. Once you fill the “tap square” meter, you just get to watch an animation of the pup doing the action.
This is a kids game so I’m not expecting complex controls, but at least change up the button press? At least have the ability to control something. Even in co-op the other player just gets to cheer on the person doing the “tap square” action, by doing what? You guessed it, by also tapping square. It was disappointing because the game advertises: “One or two players can control every PAW Patrol pup including Chase, Skye, Marshall, and Everest, each with unique skills”. In my head I’m picturing this fun co-op game where we need to work together each using a pup to get past puzzles with our unique traits. Nope, all it turned into was a damn clown show race to the next circle to see who could spastically tap square the fastest, and who was the idiot tapping square to cheer like a useless AI companion.
We spent our time roaming the maps collecting dog treats that will fill a gift meter. Once you collect enough you will unlock the gift and get a cosmetic for either the pups or their vehicles. There are also other collectable postcards and dog tags to find around the map. Some of the exploration will require you to, again, change to said pup, and tap square to collect item. This gameplay loop remains the same through all four levels, and my son was ready to change games before we even finished the first map.
If the boring gameplay loop doesn’t make you use your drill for an at-home self lobotomy, the damned camera controls will. I don’t know who in their right mind would implement camera controls like this as the default, but whoever did this needs to be arrested for attempted abuse. My son and I were both raging at the screen because of the camera.
As you move, the camera will lock itself into place and it will not adjust to how the pup is currently oriented until you stop moving. For example, if you’re running straight, but want to take a turn or even turn around, the camera will remain in the direction it was in when you started running. It will only move to the way the pup is now facing if you let go of the movement stick. Luckily I found that there is a manual camera control in the options, but for those who buy this for their kids and wouldn’t know how to change it, why have this as the default option?
If there is something to praise PAW Patrol World for is its visuals are at least nice. It has a very clean look about it, even if it’s to its detriment. The main characters and pups are rendered well, even if they’re animated poorly. Open world areas are detailed enough, it just feels a bit sterile and empty. The visuals are nice and don’t feature any extremely low quality muddy textures like the past games, but it all looks stiff and plasticky. For it being on the precipice of a big town sized festival, it all feels so lifeless. Even the side characters are placed statically around the map looking like soulless mannequins with basic robotic animations on a loop.
Like the visuals, the redeeming aspect is the sound design. As far as the general sound effects and soundtrack go, it’s all PAW Patrol and immediately recognizable. All the classic voice lines are here that will likely put a smile on your kids face and have them repeating the character catchphrases. The downfall here is that the voice acting can be hit or miss with the line delivery, and offer some really bad dialogue.
Another issue, and likely because I’m older and already loath the constant annoyance of the show, but every time you to cycle through the characters they have to say their name. Not only when you select them, just as you’re scrolling through them. So you’ll be hearing: RUBBLE, CHA, RUB, CHASE, EVER, SKY, MARSHAL as they talk over each others names as your sweet little child can’t decide which direction on the character wheel to go in order to get to the character they need fastest. You have to just sit there as they rattle off their own names overlapping each other with their headache inducing high pitched positivity and eagerness to “get the job done on the double.” That being said, overall, the sound design is the best thing about this game.
While I can appreciate the direction of making PAW Patrol World an open world adventure, there just isn’t a lot going on for it. I loved the idea that it sold me on with it being a co-op adventure and working together with unique abilities… it’s just unfortunate that there’s nothing unique about the gameplay at all. There are no different mini-games or activities that require different thinking or gameplay, it’s just always the same bland QTE. They didn’t even bother changing up them to make them feel unique, even on a superficial level. I’m not asking for a challenge here, but at least give these activities some fun. The worst thing this game did is making it bland and soulless, like a dog version of the Marvel’s Avengers game. I’d skip this one and go play PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay or Adventure City Calls instead.
Characters are clean and well rendered, however, open world areas can feel sterile.
Atrocious camera controls with stiff movements, even when driving vehicles. Gameplay boils down to only tapping “Square” for everything.
All the classic music from the show is here, which is nice. The actors all sound convincing, other than some bad line delivery here and there.
The aforementioned camera controls coupled with stiff movement and bland gameplay activities makes PAW Patrol World no fun to play at all.
Final Verdict: 3.5
PAW Patrol World is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and PC.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5.
A copy of PAW Patrol World was provided by the publisher.