App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Very few people are fans of incarceration, and if given the choice I’d imagine they’d probably brave the possibility of bodily harm in order to earn their freedom. I’d also imagine that the likelihood of such an escape attempt increases the longer the imprisonment lasts. Enter Dotard; a crazy old coot with no discernable reason for being locked up who has to make his way through a series of deathtrap-laden labyrinths to earn his freedom. How much fun a person has with it largely depends on their enjoyment of solving mazes.
Dotard’s Escape features no enemies, power-ups, experience points, or cash used to buy upgraded equipment. It is, quite simply, a game about getting through a maze. But it’s also not quite that simple. Each level is randomly generated, so no two paths are the same. The trap layouts also change each time so it’s important to keep a sharp eye while trying to escape as quickly as possible. There are even a number of values to toggle in order to create a large maze with few traps, cramped maze with tons of traps, or anything in-between.
When random level generation is done right, as it is here, it can equate to a near-endless amount of replayability. The added ability to adjust maze sizes, the number of traps, and the time limit also help to make Dotard’s Escape about as accessible as it can be. See, getting caught in a trap results in a time penalty, so without a time limit players can just sort of go nuts without fear of consequence if that’s what they prefer. Conversely, more serious players can up the difficulty and shorten the time limit to create a real white-knuckle scenario. And once those preferred settings are discovered they can continue to use them over and over again without worrying about getting used to a stage’s layout.
The virtual stick in Dotard’s Escape gets the job done well enough, but it’s a little loose for my liking. Sometimes I’ll end up overshooting my mark and stumble right into a trap, for example. I never truly felt that the controls made things unfair, but a little tightening wouldn’t hurt. A more disappointing problem I’ve run into is the way everything stutters for a second or two when the traps load. I imagine it can be tough to prevent such issues when using random level generation, but it kind of ruins the surprise when a framerate dip constantly warns of potential hazards further along the corridor.
Dotard’s Escape probably won’t win over any maze haters out there, but it’s sure to please maze lovers. There are plenty of options to play around with and it’s never the same layout twice. Plus it’s possible to suggest new insidious traps to the developers directly, which might even make it into the game in future updates.