There’s been a slew of digital PS Vita games over the past couple of weekends, but many have been something of a disappointment.
Dokuro isn’t, however.
Take one look at Dokuro and you’ll likely be intrigued, and it’d be impossible to deny that the art style is one of the main reasons to be interested in this game.
Resembling a sort of pop-up storybook, Dokuro sees players control a wee skeleton who just wants to be noticed. He inadvertently helps a caged princess escape, hoping to one day catch her attention.
So it’s the two of you in each level. The princess is fragile and – quite frankly – stupid, traipsing forward until either she can’t continue or something threatens her. If the latter does happen she’ll either run away or die. Neither are good.
The objective is to guide this hapless royal over a series of different hazards and challenges, while you try to solve whatever problem you’re currently facing.
You’ll earn a selection of items along the way to help, whether it’s white chalk to repair broken rope, red chalk to ignite bombs or even a fancy potion that turns our nimble double-jumping skeleton into a heavier, but stronger, warrior.
It’s usually black and white until you switch to Super Awesome Battle Mode (or: beefed up warrior).
Each set of stages introduces a new mechanic, and it won’t be long until you reach some real head-scratchers. Make no mistake, this is a tough puzzle game.
In a good way though: it’s never obtuse or unfair, and you’re eased into each particular mechanic so you’re never left unfairly stumped by a puzzle because of the games inability to explain itself.
There’s a healthy mix of stage types, too, whether it’s typical problem solving, dextrous platform navigation or even combat sections – in particular unique and varied boss fights.
All told, Dokuro is a great PS Vita game, perfect for the short burst gameplay necessary of a handheld as well as bringing something fairly original to an overused genre.
But mechanically Dokuro can feel a little… off. In particular the jumping, which in itself feels fine, can be a nuisance when you’re unfairly crushed or skewered by the hazards of the world.
Stepping directly next to a set of spikes could, inadvertently, cause your little skeleton to crumble, while falling crates, platforms or other objects seem to have unnecessarily huge hit detection areas.
Dying forces you to restart that stage from the beginning, which can be a nuisance when some stages – though not many – can take up to five minutes to complete.
It’s always adding new mechanics, so Dokuro never feels repetitive.
It’s necessary to have a system of deaths and restarts in Dokuro since combat is as important as platforming and puzzle-solving, but when a level features no enemies and yet you’re still forced into retrying the stage because of an unfair hit-box it can feel a little cruel.
Additionally the stupidity of the princess can work to your detriment. While many of the puzzles focus on keeping her from moving too far ahead into the stage – while you busy about removing any dangers further on – it can be a bit of a nuisance managing her.
Even those that don’t can fail because of the idiocy of the fair princess, and – again – you’ll be forced into repeat the whole level again.
But put these issues aside, however, and you’ll find Dokuro is a thoroughly enjoyable platform-puzzler. You’ll need to appreciate a challenge when it comes to some of the later puzzles, but it’s definitely one PS Vita owners should take a look at.