‘Russian Subway Dogs’ game looking for funding on Kickstarter

“Russian Subway Dogs” is a game about a stray dog that rides Moscow’s subway trains in its effort to forage for food.

It’s a fast-paced arcade title that has you barking at commuters and competing with other pooches for tasty snacks. And because this is Russia we’re talking about, expect ravenous bears to pop up every now and then to harry you.

“Russian Subway Dogs” is currently looking for funding via Kickstarter. As of writing, it has already accumulated a fifth of its $50,000 goal. It is being developed by Spooky Squid Games, the creators of beat ‘em up platformer “They Bleed Pixels.”

It seems like a strange premise, but the truth is a small fraction of Moscow’s 35,000 canine vagrants have indeed found a way to make the search for daily sustenance a little more… interesting. Simply put, they’ve mastered the navigation of the subway system. They know how to ride the trains and can tell exactly at which stops to disembark. Sometimes they go solo, sometimes they work together in a pack.

The dogs utilize a variety of techniques to get food, and have been observed to choose specific targets. Just like in the game, these dogs bark at human adults to startle them into dropping their food. They use a gentler approach with children, who are more likely to part with their snacks if given a good dose of puppy dog eyes.

These dogs have also learned to recognize different destinations not only by their smell, but by listening to the train conductor announce the names of locations, as well.

According to researcher Andrei Poyarkov of the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, these dogs are evolving to possess increased intelligence, as evinced by their specialized behavior. When it comes to survival, these beggar dog packs value brain over brawn.

“The street is tough and it’s survival of the fittest,” Poyarkov told ABC News. “These clever dogs know people much better than people know them.”

“The take-away is that animals are not just passive in this,” said animal intelligence expert Eugene Linden. “They are figuring out what we’re about and how they can game the system, and work it to their advantage as well.”

Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of “Russian Subway Dogs” is the bear showing up in the subway. But even that isn’t as fantastical as it sounds. Bears are known to wander into areas populated by humans, and have been caught on camera entering establishments such as restaurants and grocery stores. In October last year, a bear cub broke into a coffee shop and frightened customers by chasing after them. So a bear ending up in a subway? It might not be as farfetched as it sounds.

“Russian Subway Dogs” isn’t the first game to focus on the lives of disadvantaged hounds. Last year, a game called “Home Free” was successfully funded through Kickstarter. It has the player assuming the role of a dog lost in a huge, procedurally generated city. To get enough food to survive, you’ll have to learn how to steal, scavenge, and even impress human beings by performing tricks.