Doodle Kingdom Review – Not a Masterpiece (Vita)
PlayStation Vita owners are often vocal about the lack of support that Sony’s handheld receives from developers, which means they often latch onto the titles that are actually developed for it. While this can lead to some games that would be overlooked on other platforms receiving attention, it also means that their hopes can sometimes get raised for absolute dreck that releases on the system. Look no further than developer JoyBits’ Doodle Kingdom to see what kind of awful content gets churned out.
More Ecce Mono than Ecce Homo
Doodle Kingdom is the third installment of the Doodle series, which includes previous Vita titles Doodle God and Doodle Devil. This installment features three modes: Genesis, Quests and My Hero. Genesis and Quests both continue the series’ trademark puzzle gameplay where the player acts as a God and combines two elements to, hopefully, create something new.
Genesis mode is where the bulk of the player’s time will be spent, as there are a total of 116 elements than must be crafted to complete it. Players start off with just a few simple elements (such as: life, magic and sea), so it is kind of cool to see the progression once you start producing fantastical objects like Dragons. Well, it would be if the logic behind matching these elements wasn’t a complete mess at times. It quickly becomes apparent that you’ll just sit there combining random elements in the hope of producing something new since it feels utterly random at times.
What makes the game even more of a frustrating experience is that every time a experimentation is successful, it kicks the player back into the first menu of the mode. That means the player will have to select which type of elements they were trying all over again. I’m not sure how this issue exists (especially in the third game of the series), but it makes the game bothersome to play.
The second mode is titled Quests, which is three smaller campaigns that play like Genesis. These campaigns are themed and are a much more focused affair. For example, in the possibly copyright infringing named ‘How to Train your Dragon’ campaign, the player is tasked with creating several types of dragons. These bite-sized chunks feel more like a puzzle and less like random guesswork, but ultimately it ends up being just like Genesis where you’ll be stuck and trying to combine anything.
Outside the Lines
Thankfully, the game will finish the game for you if you are willing to cough up more money than the already outrageous $5.99 that JoyBits is asking for it. Doodle Kingdom features two different types of currency, which can be used to buy hints in the first two modes and new equipment in My Hero mode. If players want to gain these two types of currency quickly they’ll have to cough up real money since Doodle Kingdom fully supports in-app purchases. This would be fine if the game was free, but it is already overpriced.
The third mode is the most unique and also by far the worst. Called My Hero, this mode has the player purchasing items, equipment and skills for a heroic soldier who exists only to run in a straight line forever battling foes. Since battling, except for bosses, is done automatically, this means that players spend minutes staring at a screen doing nothing aside from touching treasure chests that occasionally pass by the soldier. Players will have to spend the gold they collect from these treasure chests on health and stamina potions to continue “playing” this game. It is a dreadful, boring mode that only gets worse when you actually have to play it during the boss battles.
Boss battles in My Hero mode consist of tapping on the Vita’s touchscreen during the right moment to successfully attack. This would be fine if there wasn’t lag between touching the attack button and it actually occurring. This means you’ll actually have to press the button before the right moment and hope it triggers at the right moment. Considering the bosses take around eight hits and can kill the player in two attacks, this leads to several frustrating deaths. These deaths are not due to the player’s skill, but rather the game mode being broken.
You’re a Pretty Clever Warlock!
The gameplay of Doodle Kingdom may seem repetitive, but it is nothing compared to how repetitive the voice-over can be. In a ten minute span, this reviewer heard the game say, “Hey, you’re a pretty clever Warlock!” just under a dozen times. The soundtrack found within the game isn’t much better, so if you do end up purchasing this game then just mute it. It’ll save your ears from hearing the same poorly acted lines of dialogue a hundred times.
If there is anything positive to say about Doodle Kingdom it is that the flavor text that is presented after a pairing is created is pretty well done. A few of the lines of dialogue, even made me laugh, thanks to some wry statements. Graphically the game looks fine with nothing really standing out positively or negatively. The artwork shown look like doodles, so at least the developer achieved the look they were going for.
There really isn’t much of a game to Doodle Kingdom. The logic is slightly clever at best to ridiculous at worst and the user interface makes the game feel like a chore to play. Throw in some gross micro-transactions onto an already high price tag, a poor attempt at a management style game in My Hero mode and you have a package that tries to do a lot, but does nothing well. Doodle Kingdom is a mess of a game that should be avoided by all.
Review code for Doodle Kingdom provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation Vita. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here