Dokuro is an adorable puzzle game available only on the PlayStation Vita. While many may overlook this title because of its childish presentation, behind that is hidden a really a deep and complex puzzle game. Released in Japan and the US last year it has finally gotten a European release earlier this year.
Dokuro has a simple story told through images in-between sections of the game. The evil Dark Lord kidnaps a princess and forces her to marry him, but in the process his skeleton worker, Dokuro, releases the princess from her cage and assists her in while she escapes from the Dark Lord’s castle.
You play as the cute cuddly skeleton hero, who obviously has a crush on the beautiful princess. The unfortunate thing in all this is that the princess doesn’t see you. This setup allows you to guide the airhead princess through the gauntlet of traps meant specifically to kill her and make your life a living nightmare.
Dokuro is in its essence a puzzle game. Every level is a new place where you must help the princess reach a flower located on the far right. The game steadily introduces more objects with which you interact. At the beginning you learn to push and pull levers and boxes. The levers and buttons move different platforms that can be used in order to transport the princess or other objects. This kind of interaction makes for some really creative puzzles.
Dokuro also has the ability to transform into a tall gallant prince. He is more apt with fighting enemies and can carry the princess around, but has a limited amount of time before he reverts into his smaller form. The smaller Dokuro can traverse through tiny gaps and can perform an all-important double jump. This means you will be constantly switching between these two forms. This is done via the front and rear touch, but it is a lot better to change it so that the R trigger swaps between these two modes. Dokuro also features some other more creative uses of the touch screen. You gain the ability draw a line a line using chalk in order to connect two objects or make a fiery rope that can lit things.
The game has some really interesting puzzles and some equally irritating ones. The game gets harder and harder until it hits a point where I barely made it through the levels after countless retries and general type planning. Dokuro gives you the possibility of skipping a level if it’s too hard for you to beat. Fortunately the later levels immediate got easier once a new thing was introduced. The game constantly introduces new elements keeping the game from ever getting stale.
The princess can be annoying at times and more often than not she is the reason of her own and your demise. Your babysitting will force you help her go down a single step and fight off enemies that may scare the princess enough for her to leap down an endless pit. Some of the puzzles literally force you to pick up the princess and return her to the beginning of the level. After this you must quickly complete part of the puzzle before she returns and kills herself somehow. While all this can get on the nerves of even the most patient gamer, it does make you celebrate every time you complete a level
The game looks like a painting from a children’s picture book. It features crisp visuals with a black and white like style. The whole castle is pretty gloomy with the princess being the only bright thing standing out. The music perfectly fits in with the whole atmosphere of the game, sounding like something that came right out of a fairy tale.
Dokuro is a hidden gem, featuring a style rarely seen in today’s games. Its childish visuals and challenging gameplay may have to offer something for both kids and adults, but most of the puzzles can be a bit too challenging for the younger gamers. With every level contacting a collectable coin the game has quite a good dose of replay value. If you love challenging puzzle games and like games with a fairytale look you should check out Dokuro.
Dokuro is available exclusively for the PlayStation Vita.