"Howling Dogs is death dreams cube." — Porpentine
Howling Dogs depicts a world in which the reader is imprisoned in a monotonous daily routine punctuated by moments of escape, mostly through a virtual reality visor that offers access to synthetic natural worlds. In order to use the visor, the user is required to repeatedly click through necessary daily actions such as eating and drinking.
This world is brought to life through white text appearing on a black background with hyperlinks in blue, bold type. The hyperlinks sometimes cause the user to loop back and revisit previous pages while at other times they lead to new narrative information. Howling Dogs flirts with escapism, but does not offer a clear narrative path out.
Porpentine writes, "I get that people look at this horrible room and think, 'surely there’s some puzzle that will completely fix my terrible life. I should be able to dismantle this, totally gonna escape this shit, that’s what people do in closed rooms, they escape.' For me, escape begins with an internal change–discernment. If nothing changes in our understanding, we remain trapped. I’m not interested in some Matrix ending, some brutal, fatuous demarcation between the physical and virtual world. The only way to get anywhere in howling dogs is to stop consuming and start paying attention."