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PlayStation Vita  header logo

Dokuro

For: PS Vita   Also on: Android, iPhone, iPad

Escape plan B

Product: Dokuro | Developer: Game Arts | Publisher: GungHo Online | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Dokuro PS Vita, thumbnail 1
With the release of Dokuro, the Vita now has two slightly creepy, predominantly black and white 2D puzzle-platformers. While Escape Plan is - for my money - the better of the two, Dokuro is still a solid addition to the Sony handheld's library.

You play as a skeleton minion who happens to see a beautiful damsel trapped in his giant demon lord's lair. Our boney hero instantly falls in love and frees her from her confines, only to discover that she can't see him for some reason.

You don't have much time to ponder upon this, as the fair maiden wonders off into the keep, and it's your job to ensure that she stays safe.

A princess in another castle

Which is a tricky task, as there's so much within the castle walls that can bring both you and her to harm. You can both be crushed by a falling block, squished under spikes, stabbed by floating demons, set alight by flame-throwers, and sliced in twain by circular saws.

When you fail at keeping yourself or the apple of your eye alive, it's never a particularly gory scene, but the crunch of bones and the princesses high-pitched squeal is enough to give you plenty of motivation to avoid the dangers that lay ahead.

To survive them, you'll be using all of your acrobatic finesse and later - as a princely hero - your sword skills to make it to the end goal of each stage within each level. This goal comes in the form of a wilted flower, which both yourself and the princess must reach before you can progress to the next area.

Combat is basic almost to the point of under-developed: it's a simple case of tapping Square when next to an opponent. The platforming is equally straightforward in terms of controls, but you'll need to employ a fair degree of dexterity in places.

For example, one sequence asks you to turn a crank to retract a set of spikes, hop down to press a button, then hop back up just in time to avoid death.

Chalk one up

Layered on top of these basic mechanics are several gameplay elements designed to make you think about the environment and how you can alter it. For instance, you can use several colours of chalk, all with different properties - white connects objects, red creates a burning fuse, and blue fills areas with water.

There's a physics engine of sorts at play here, too, and while it's not as complicated as a LittleBigPlanet it allows for gravity to have an effect on seesaws, and for the protagonist to have a sense of weight to his movement.

In fact, it's the titular protagonist that steals the show on every occasion. He's designed to look irked at every opportunity, grumping across each level with stiff arms and a "why me?" attitude.

That's until the quieter moments with the princess, when his eye sockets widen and he starts to seem human.

Though it's not as sophisticated as other games in the genre - even the ones on Vita - Dokuro remains a thoughtful, taxing, and tight puzzle-platformer, with a lead character to die for. Again and again and again.
 
Dokuro
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 6 February 2013
A great art style, rock-hard puzzles and great controls are let down by so-so platforming challenges and combat that feels perfunctory in comparison with the rest of the experience
 
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