Posted by Greg Giddens
Are you itching for a smart and interesting puzzle platformer? One with an undead theme and a hero faced with the challenge of rescuing a princess from his evil master? Then Dokuro's got you covered.
Having witnessed the Dark Lord capture a beautiful blonde monarch, your envy and renewed moral standing compels you, a mere skeleton henchman of the Dark Lord, to turn against your master and help the heir to escape. Now you must solve all manner of environment puzzles to aid the princess in exiting the Dark Lord's huge castle, and possibly win her heart for yourself.
It's a simple but effective narrative designed to drive the core action, but it's not the plot that will keep you engaged. Moreover it's the clever, challenging, and accessible puzzles, in addition to the charming charcoal-esque aesthetic that will really draw you in.
The castle backdrop is a dangerous place, but your supernatural skills give you the unique tools that you require to help the young princess on her way. Defeating ex-comrades, destroying walls and traps, and even facing the Dark Lord's most trusted and vicious lieutenants are all tasks that you'll need to complete. During which, you'll be despised and branded a turncoat by those who had once called you brother, and mostly ignored by the woman that you're attempting to save.
The princess herself always moves forwards, unless she's faced with an impasse such as a drop, wall, or trap. She'll die a lot, as she stumbles into less obvious obstacles and enemies that you're yet to slay, but it's up to you to keep her safe. It's similar to Lemmings, but with a darker design and a more demanding pace.
Fortunately, you can traverse each of the levels quickly, thanks to a double jump mechanic and highly responsive controls. You can also pull levers, stand on pressure sensitive buttons, and push crates to solve puzzles. A little later on you'll gain the ability to repair ropes, chains, and platforms with white chalk, which you draw on using the touch screen. Additionally, red chalk allows you to light bombs and clear pathways. However, it's after you've cleared the first stage that you'll gain your most important ability: being able to temporarily transform into the handsome prince that you were back when you dwelled amongst the living.
A double tap on the front touch screen will turn you into the human prince, while a double tap on the rear touch pad will switch you back to the skeleton. As the prince you can swoop up the princess and carry her for a limited time, swiftly navigating traps and even small ledges. You're also rewarded with better combat skills, making your attacks significantly more powerful.
The bosses add to the game's variety, pitting you against the Dark Lord's demons. Many of these encounters adopt a puzzle approach, and as with the rest of the game, are challenging enough to get you thinking without being frustrating.
It's clear that there's been a lot of thought invested into how each stage and boss fight is constructed. The game does get more difficult as you progress, but you'll almost always happen on the solution after a few moments thought. And if you do get stumped, you can always skip the stage or restart the level almost instantaneously. The title is highly accessible.
Dokuro's charming aesthetic and accessible gameplay make it an enjoyable distraction that's certainly worth your time. It can get a touch repetitive during prolonged sessions, but that's the only major slight on this otherwise adorable voyage through the underworld.