If you didn't think that you had a God complex, you certainly will after a few hours with JoyBits' return to its flagship seller, the Doodle series. While Doodle Kingdom certainly upholds the traditional formula the franchise is renowned for – albeit with a fresh thematic twist – it also tries its creative hand at a few new things in a bid to usher in a new breed of Doodle titles for Sony's portable console.
You see, the Doodle series follows a basic principle: you're given a selection of elements, of which you must combine two to make a third – and then you must combine that with something else to make a fourth and so on. Before you know it you've created a vast universe of resources and objects, right before your power-hungry eyes. Initially there are 116 elements that you'll need to discover that are segregated into 13 categories; the first few combinations prove simple enough like pairing humans with a forest to retrieve berries and lumber – but 20 or so elements in things will prove more troublesome for your grey matter.
The challenge is only heightened by the main difference that Doodle Kingdom has over its predecessors: medieval fantasy elements. This theme brings elements such as magicians, unicorns, and golems to the table, causing you to think outside the box a little more as you go about your deity business. If things get too tough then you can always wimp out and call for assistance from the handy Hint System. While these tips can be bought with in-game currency, if you really struggle and burn through that crypto-cash, you'll come face-to-face with a pay wall to garner more hints. Fortunately, hints are ultimately unnecessary as, after all, there's always Google, right?
Aside from the aptly titled Genesis mode outlined above, Doodle Kingdom also possesses two other modes, the first of which being Quest mode. This sees you perform short, goal-driven versions of the standard mode, pairing elements with a specific item to produce outcomes such as a certain breed of dragon. These are unlocked by making specific elements in Genesis mode, and, although fun, they're short-lived and disappointingly few in number.
This leaves the third and final mode, My Hero, which feels completely out of place in Doodle Kingdom. This mode is in essence an endless running minigame in which your hero side-scrolls through a forest while you tap on randomly spawning chests of gold and jewels, while occasionally having a scuffle with myriad creatures like goblins and wargs. You're able to complete simple quests like 'Collect 100 Gold' to help extend the experience, and you spend the rewards on health potions and running energy to keep your hero moving. Collected treasure can be used to purchase weapons and armour adding a slight RPG twist to the odd addition, which proves deceptively addictive but remains a questionable accompaniment to the main game.
It hangs around briefly, but Doodle Kingdom proves itself a worthy addition to the Doodle ranks. The medieval theme adds a clever twist to the usual formula and really spins your imagination to some questionable places (humans and unicorns are apparently a no-no) providing a more than adequate challenge. The peripheral modes are ultimately inconsequential but fun nonetheless and certainly contribute to the addictive formula JoyBits has so expertly concocted. It's a must-play for Doodle fans and a promising taste of something new for those yet to take the reins of the Big Man upstairs.