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On 11/21/2012 at 08:44 PM by Nick DiMola
Despite its charming personality, this puzzle-platformer doesn't have much going for it.
For novice puzzle gamers only.
I've been putting off writing this review for at least the past week because I was having a hard time contextualizing my feelings for Dokuro. In short, the game wasn't gripping me, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was that turned me off. Was it the progression? Couldn't be - it offered a consistently growing repertoire of abilities. It wasn't the aesthetic; that held plenty of appeal, as did the characters contained therein. All along I thought to myself that it must be the challenge. But with a mix of easy and harder puzzles, how could that be the problem? Well, after some further reflection, there's no question that the challenge level of the game is the cause of my apathy. Let me explain.
Dokuro starts off at a nice clip. It quickly explains some of its core functionalities and augments them appropriately as you progress through the levels. As a small minion of the lord of the underworld, you're completely invisible to the damsel in distress that progresses automatically from the left side of the level to the right. In order to ensure her (safe) passage, you are required to move all impediments and dangers out of her way. She has some extremely basic AI that will allow her to run from enemies and avoid obvious threats like spikes, but otherwise she's completely clueless.
Through use of a special potion, you can materialize as a prince and quickly carry the princess across some areas or down to lower platforms. You are also more adept at dispatching foes in the environment, but it comes at the expense of your double jump. By using these two forms as well as the white, red, and blue chalk, you can solve all of the puzzles in the game. These chalks offer you the ability to attach platforms to pivot points to make them swing (white), draw a fuse to light a canon or ignite a candle (red), or create some water to float wooden objects (blue).
With so many different abilities, it may seem like Dokuro is extremely complicated in execution; however, nearly the exact opposite is true. At any given time, no more than one or two of these abilities is put into play, which makes the majority of the puzzles in the game extremely simplistic. A brief assessment of the landscape quickly makes obvious the solution to the puzzle. The ones that don't fit into this archetype fall into a different one.
These puzzles are extremely long and drawn out and can take up to fifteen minutes to complete. Any trip up you have along the way will result in a complete restart of the level due to the lack of checkpoints or rewind abilities. Because the controls can sometimes fail you, not all screw-ups can be attributed to just poor puzzle solving - some are legitimately at the fault of the game. Having to restart these epic levels is not only frustrating, but extremely tedious as well.
As such, the game oscillates between levels that are entirely too easy and those that are oppressively hard. While the epic levels are few and far between, this just means that you're subjected to a larger quantity of mundane ones. As the game wears on, this becomes a bigger and bigger turn-off to the point where the game becomes a complete slog.
Don’t get me wrong—there are definitely a few ingenious puzzles scattered amidst these boring ones and the coins that are hidden in each level often make the puzzle solving more challenging and interesting. Boss battle levels comprise part of this subset and their unique fusion of combat and puzzle solving make them extremely memorable. However, as a sum of its parts, Dokuro is not engaging enough to hold your attention for the 150 levels it contains.
Perhaps novices to the genre will find something to enjoy, but for seasoned veterans, Dokuro simply doesn't have the proper challenge level to hold your interest.