Developer: GungHo Online Entertainment
Price: $0.99 (introductory price)
Version Reviewef: 1.2.1
App Reviewed on: iPad Air

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½ 
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

I never had the chance to get hands-on with the PS Vita’s version of the puzzle-centric Dokuro, so I was thrilled to be able to sit down with the iOS version and check out this beautiful game for the first time.

Dokuro follows the adventures of a skeleton on a mission to rescue a princess from the Dark Lord’s evil clutches. It is thus through a sequence of puzzles that our skeleton protagonist will help guide the princess to safety and away from the Dark Lord’s possession.

Since this skeleton was previously a human at one point in his life, he has the ability to transform back for a short period of time by drinking a special potion. As this new handsome price he can use further abilities such as fight off enemies and carry the princess to safety, and Dokuro therefore becomes very much about balancing the powers of the two forms in order to overcome each obstacle.

IMG_0452I’m not too aware of how the Vita handles in terms of controls and how smooth the game runs, but I can imagine there’s not a huge contrast between the two platforms. In the game’s settings there’s an option to switch to a control format specifically for iPad, which consists of all of the touchpad controls being fixed at the bottom half of the screen. There’s not too much of a problem in getting accustomed to the controls, but I think there are definite advantages of using a Vita over the touch-and-go controls of the iPad.

Dokuro’s most distinctive asset is its beautiful charcoal drawing inspired cutscenes that compliment its chalk drawn setting perfectly. The eye-catching character art and animations are very much unique, and while the game mainly revolves around a black-and-white motif, Dokuro is also characterized by its unusually stunning color palate that changes depending on the the skeleton’s current form.

Dokuro’s other strength happens to be its cleverly executed gameplay that revolves around the most frustrating yet addictive puzzle mechanics combined with a mixture of side-scrolling platforming and short irregular bouts of combat. Each stage has ten levels, all of which require the player to guide the princess over and across a series of obstacles to safety – be it spiky platforms, dangerous fire-breathing traps, or moving platforms. Even more inventive is the additional mechanic of drawing with chalk to reattach a box separated from a broken piece of rope.

IMG_0450Though Dokuro can be highly frustrating at times, it is somewhat forgiving in nature and allows the player not only to restart puzzles instantaneously but gives the option of skipping forward should the need arise (though this is set to a limited number of times.)

I’m a far cry from a puzzle virtuoso but regardless, the challenging yet merciful Dokuro provides countless hours of entertainment for everyone.


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