All dogs are barking.
As the parent of two children right in the middle of the prime Paw Patrol demographic, I looked at the new video game Paw Patrol World with curiosity. I’ve plodded my way through some mediocre licensed games with my kids already, but the concept of an open-world kids game seemed interesting. Could this be the right gateway towards the onslaught of open-world games across all video games? For the most part, it’s successful. Publisher Outright Games and developer 3DClouds essentially made Grand Theft Auto for preschoolers. It’s not much more than that, but that’s exactly what Paw Patrol World should be.
The setup is simple and approachable. You are the Paw Patrol. Here’s the city of Adventure Bay. Go save people and collect dog treats. Few barriers exist to let your kid engage with the likes of Chase, Rubble, and Tracker. You toggle between the core gang of pups at the press of a button. You can opt to drive around in their vehicle or just walk around. The primary quests involve you just following around an always-on icon for the Paw Patrol’s boy leader Ryder. He gives you repetitive quests that typically involve picking the right dog for the job and then rapidly pressing a button. It’s fluff, but it’s fluff that my 5-year-old was really into, especially as more notable series locales start popping up along the way.
I was handed a controller a few times and can clearly say that adults do not need to play through Paw Patrol World on their own. And that’s fine because this game isn’t for adults. An argument can be made that good games should transcend age, don’t dumb down games for kids, and so on and so forth, but very rarely is a game truly for all ages. Even some of Nintendo’s greatest generation-spanning triumphs aren’t all ages. My kids adore Kirby games but I’m not expecting a 3-year-old to take down the final boss in Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Paw Patrol World is a game that my kids can romp through all on their own.
It doesn’t need to purely be a solo journey though. After a brief tutorial, you can drop in at any time and active co-op. The screen is split and each player can select a pup (they can be the same pup if desired). You can go do your own stuff, but you can also automatically warp near the other one at the press of a button. It’s exactly the kind of co-op you’d want in a kid-centric open-world game.
Paw Patrol World is a smartly made entry-level open-world video game that does a good job of capturing the appeal of Paw Patrol in video game form. It’s primarily for the younger sect, but it does that by being a playground to explore as opposed to a steep challenge. You play in the world of the TV show in a way that makes this a gateway to the wider world of (mostly quality) video games. As a parent I sometimes need to make compromises. If my kids want to play the cop dog game instead of Roblox, I’ll chalk it up as a win.