Have you tried… having a swinging, riotous platforming good time with Grapple Dog?

Grapple Dog
(Image credit: Super Rare Originals)

It's not often a tiny yellow labrador swings straight into your must-recommends, and yet here we are. Not many platformers absolutely nail that flow that's so synonymous with the greats – like Sonic, Mario, and Rayman – but that's exactly what Grapple Dog does. And this hero is far cuter than any of that other lot too. 

As you've probably guessed by the title, Grapple Dog is a game where you play as a dog who's been given a grappling hook. It's not just for fun though, as our heroic little Lab, Pablo, has also been given the task of saving the world from a murderous robot named Nul. You track down Nul through various levels spread across themed worlds, each ending with a brilliantly designed boss battle. 

But realistically, you're not really in it for the story – it's all about that fluid gameplay, which when things are going well makes you feel pretty powerful. You can swing using your grappling hook, jump, and ground pound, and each level adds a little more complexity to how you can use those basic tools. From jump pads and smashable blocks to inflatable frogs and bouncy turtles, the level designs are wonderfully creative at times.

Wag while you're swinging

Grapple Dog screenshot

(Image credit: Super Rare Originals)

Okay, so technically it's not doing anything new per se. But it absolutely nails the GBA charm of a classic platformer. When you first start moving, Pablo is slow – almost painfully so – but start chaining together leaps and swings, and soon you'll build up momentum as you fling yourself through the level. It's all about the flow, and there's an almost hypnotic quality to getting truly in the zone. The difficulty curve has a nice sharpness to it, where you're constantly pushed to find the best route through each level, and there's just enough friction to make you feel like you've accomplished something without ever feeling frustrated for too long. 

It's also handy that there are various objectives to tick off during a level if you want to get the most from Grapple Dog. Each level has five purple gems hidden within it, along with some 250 oranges, and grabbing all of them will regularly require precise timing and movements. There are also hidden blue B icons in some levels, which unlock bonus areas that offer up various different trials to complete outside of the main story path. Then, if that wasn't enough, each level can be completed as a time trial once completed, which often makes for examples of having to achieve the perfect flow to take home the gold. It's utter completionist fodder and I'm so here for it – especially when finding all the gems and oranges allows you to give Pablo a pat well done at the end. 

Grapple Dog screenshot

(Image credit: Super Rare Originals)

Grapple Dog's overworld is a nice touch too, with Pablo moving between levels on a little boat he lies on with two of his pals – an intellectual ostrich and a tech-loving bunny. Here you can either chat to your friends, or dive into a Space Invaders-esque 2D mini-game called Boomerang Bandit, which I'm not ashamed to admit I've played far too much of between swings. 

It's a lot of game for the price, and when the worlds you'll explore are so vibrant and stylishly brought to life in pixel art you won't be sad you've taken a punt on Grapple Dog. 

Grapple Dog is available now on Pc, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.