The space exploration game Sun Dogs comes with a promising description: "Sun Dogs is about exploring our inner solar system, altering your body, and embracing death." After playing, I deem it accurate.
Living among the stars is a relatively modern dream, and a largely unattainable one, in part because the worlds beyond our own remain lethally hostile to our soft, fleshy bodies. But as the game suggests, perhaps that is precisely what needs to change. Sun Dogs imagines a transhumanist future where humankind has colonized the solar system, and reimagined what it means to be human along the way: "where we could not bend the environment to our will, we changed out bodies to suit it."
The solar system in Sun Dogs looks as sleek and austere as I imagine those bodies, all simple, colored orbs circumscribed by thin grey lines. You wake in a revival facility, your past unspoken and your mind immortal, and immediately set out to explore. There's a low, electric hum that sometimes rises behind the eerie music, and each time you embark on a voyage you hear a satisfying thrum, like a plucked string that catapults you into space.
The real meat of the game is the text, lush but brief, that appears to illuminate the vast array of worlds and cultures you explore. Even this is sometimes more evocative than explanatory: Why are there zebras on Venus? Who are the radiation-scarred refugees you see, and what are they running from? You may find out, or you may not. A lot of things can happen in a solar system. Although there are missions you can pursue if you wish—perhaps you have heard about a new species appearing on Venus, perhaps you wish to visit—but you're also free to wander about at will. I recommend you do.
Developed by Royal Polygon, Sun Dogs is available on Steam and Itch.io for Mac and Windows.