Pets No More is a fresh take on Air Hockey. Take teams of 1v1 or 2v2 and pit them against each other with a speedy puck, weird arena shapes, some breakout style gameplay and you have yourself a quickfire game. Oh, and the characters are zombie pets. Don’t know why but we’re going with it!
The post apocalypse aesthetic is never explained but the art, especially when still, does give Pets No more a certain late 90s MTV vibe that I personally enjoyed. It is all window dressing though as when you get down to the gameplay, it’s all about scoring goals with your puck. Each of the six characters will handle the same. They run, dash and hit the puck back at their opponent. When hitting the puck you can hold the button to charge it for a faster return and your left analogue stick controls the aim. This does become a little problematic at times as you move the character with the same stick too, causing some mis directed hits. Each character does have a unique ability but they are largely useless (which I’ll explain later).
Each of the six arenas has its own shape and variant of gameplay but all of them come with blocks placed in the goal and around the arena. Borrowing from Breakout and Arkanoid, you’ll have to smash through these blocks to open up the goal and then score. It promotes pure aggression over tactical delivery and means a game never stays still for long. What I loved about this breakout mechanic was that the blocks are also placed around the levels too so you can cheekily throw the puck down a lane and bypass a character initially. It also acts as a really good balance of power shift. If you lose a round, your blocks in goal start to increase their health, meaning some will now require multiple hits to break. This keeps everyone in the game without it feeling too obvious and its a great addition.
That’s where my positives largely stop and there’s one rather large issue that plagued each session I played Pets No More. It’s so fast and bouncy, it almost plays itself. The puck bashes around faster than you can run or dash and any of the weird shaped arenas bounce the puck off the walls so much that you can hit the puck once and watch it go for about 8 seconds bouncing around the arena. This often ends up clearing out all the breakout styled blocks on court so they become less of a strategic option and then you just have a back and forth like hyper tennis. That would be fine if the aim was decent but it seems to be very inconsistent. Your character also has a slightly largely reach than their visual art too, so you can stand in some of the narrower places if you wanted to and just spam the hit button. The special attacks are so uncontrollable, they often ended up as own goals too, so we ignored them after a while.
The end result is a game that puts out a lovely graphical style but with no reason for it, new gameplay elements that largely are cancelled out within 10-15 seconds of a game round and then all that leaves is a basic air hockey experience. Since that is a game I can play with much more variety elsewhere, it does leave me wondering what Pets No More wants to be and why? If it leaned into the breakout blocks more, there’d be a better distinction of gameplay and I’d actually enjoy the game more. As it is, its just a bit mindless and disengaging.
It isn’t a total wash out though. 2v2 games are good fun for short 10 minute blasts and there is a single player mode which gives you a few challenges to beat (although AI isn’t available for free match strangely). Just know going in that this will be a short, sweet blast before you move onto something else a little meatier.
Review copy provided by developer.
Pets No More
Fine in short bursts but not very engaging as it results in just a senseless button mash after the first few seconds of each round.
Nice art style.
The breakout blocks are a great idea and using them as a handicap is fantastic.
The actual hockey physics feel a bit too random.
The game largely plays itself.
Devolves into mindless button mashing when there could have been way more skill and tactics involved.
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