Saving the princess is a motif that seems to have been around in video games since their inception. Mario, Link, and countless other characters have all taken up arms in order to save their princess in distress. Dokuro uses this same aspect to bring together a fun, yet frustrating puzzle game onto the PlayStation. Despite the issues, Dokuro offers a fair amount of entertainment and creativity for $19.99.
What I Liked
Great Art Style
If I had to choose one thing about Dokuro that is a standout feature, it would have to be the visuals. Although Dokuro does have a fair amount of things wrong, one thing I cannot criticize is the style. Everything in the world is quite original and has a very storybook style to it. The effects on attacks continue this trend and using abilities such as fire look fantastic. A visual style alone can only carry a game so far, but Dokuro certainly has this going for it.
Puzzle Style Boss Battles
The boss battles in Dokuro are far from your average fight in a game. Usually a boss battle will have you taking on a large enemy that is extremely tough to defeat. The secret to beating these enemies is not in brute strength, but using your environment as a means to defeat them. Not all boss battles are like this, however, leading to some very frustrating battles. Dokuro is truly the underdog in basically every boss fight. It isn’t unusual to die in a boss battle several times before finally defeating them. Sometimes this is because you need to figure out the puzzle, and other times it is simply because the battle is long and tedious. When Dokuro does give you a clever battle that is akin to a puzzle though, it is a lot of fun.
Your character within the game will come across many different abilities that expand your skills in battle, as well as puzzle solving. These range from the ability to turn into a prince that deals more damage and can carry the princess, to finding chalk that allows you to light bombs. These abilities are always exciting to receive because you feel like it will make your journey a bit simpler and more exciting in the future.
What I Didn’t Like
If there was one thing that I absolutely detested about Dokuro it was the unforgiving checkpoints. While some levels only take about 30 seconds to complete, there are those that can last an hour. If you happen to get very close to the end of that level, only to die, guess what? You’ll have to play the entire level over again, with all of the puzzles and enemies reset. This was definitely the most frustrating aspect of Dokuro and the feature that most deserves a patch.
Most games aim to have a memorable soundtrack that people listen to for years and Dokuro doesn’t succeed in this venture. It doesn’t seem so bad at first though. You’ll listen to some slightly creepy tracks while trying to figure out level after level, then you find yourself in a really tough one and the music will constantly repeat itself. After thirty minutes of the same tracks playing in Dokuro, even the most hardened of criminals would break.
Dokuro has the definition of rough combat. Your little character can die extremely easily, with no real way of defending himself. What is your way to combat foes? By hitting them with a bone of course! In the beginning this works just fine, but when you run into more powerful enemies later on, you really need to utilize your skills to combat your foes. A good example is your Knight form, which gives you more powerful attacks, yet still leaves you open to defeat way too easily. Giving Dokuro more life or better defensive skills could have remedied this and made the combat far less frustrating.
Similar To: Ico and Exit
Both Ico and Exit are remembered fondly by their respective audiences. Ico is seen as one of the best examples of video games as art and Exit was a pretty clever puzzle game for the PSP. While Dokuro doesn’t live up to either of these games, the similarities are abound. Leading your princess around in Dokuro is undoubtedly similar to leading the helpless Yorda around in Ico and getting your companion to safety in Exit. If you enjoyed either of these games, you have a good chance of enjoying Dokuro.
While Dokuro doesn’t live up to its potential, it does provide a pretty long puzzle adventure for $20. There are sixteen worlds to take on, tons of puzzles to complete, and one princess to try to rescue. Dokuro has a lot of rough edges, but can still be an appealing adventure for those looking for some new puzzle action on their PS Vita.
Dokuro was reviewed with a copy provided by the publisher.