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Dokuro Review

Dokuro PS Vita Review

Although the term katabasis may not be in every player’s lexicon, they’re likely well acquainted with the concept. Used to describe the motivation for a hero’s decent into the underworld and the subsequent return to the mortal realm, it’s the ultimate measure of a character’s fortitude. From the literal voyage of the protagonists in God of War and Dante’s Inferno to the figurative plunge taken by the Delta Recon Team in Spec Ops: The Line, katabasis transcends time and culture.

Initially, Dokuro’s impetus seems unexceptional. Game Art’s recent PS Vita release tasks the game’s stalwart skeleton with rescuing a princess- a premise that should be familiar to anyone who has played an entry in The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros. franchises. Yet, where Link and Mario are motivated by romantic reunion, the eponymous protagonist of Dokuro is driven by dogged dedication, since the monarch is mostly unaware of the hero’s existence. This simple unrequited tenor along with a captivating chalk-art aesthetic, endows the puzzle-platformer with a considerable amount of charm.

Dokuro PS Vita Review

The game’s collection of 150 stages commences modestly, introducing players to Dokuro’s ability to perform a markedly floaty double jump as well as push and pull crates. Later, additional abilities are surrendered, such as the ability for the skeletal savior to momentarily transform into a strapping prince. Here, Dokuro’s ability to jump is constricted in exchange for being able to carry the persistently prone princess. Mercifully, the hero has the ability to assail the game’s array of antagonists; beating back foes with a bone in skeleton form or using a might rapier when transformed into human royalty. Beyond the game’s puzzle-driven stages, boss encounters produce a pleasing change of pace, obliging players to ascertain their attack patterns.

Complementing the arsenal of switch toggling, box manipulation, and environmental navigation are Dokuro’s drawing powers. Using the Vita’s touchscreen, players can connect adjoin items with white chalk, create fuses with red chalk, and even summon water. While these systems permit the game to create some interesting conundrums, the execution of these powers leaves a bit to be desired. One example: an early puzzle requires players to connect a rock to a fulcrum, so the boulder can crash through a prohibiting wall. Woefully, Dokuro requires steady-fingered precision to unite the two objects and is bound to vex gamers with bulky digits.

Dokuro PS Vita Review

Another aggravating factor is the princess’ lacking and uneven AI. Often ignorant to obvious danger, the aristocrat will frequently saunter into spikes, enemies, or stroll right off edges. Since the maiden’s demise triggers a stage restart (Dokuro lacks level checkpoints), babysitting the princess while manipulating environmental elements often feels like maddening exercise in multitasking. To complicate things, she’s also a bit erratic. The princess with sporadically recoil from threats or stop on a ledge often enough to permit a modicum of trust on the subsequent level. Diligent Dokuro players will know to not fall for this seductive ruse.

As players preserve, the title’s stages become exponentially more challenging, requiring a procession of procedures that are perfectly executed. Often the smallest miscalculation will result in failure, prompting trial and error progression rather than analytical play. While Dokuro’s learning curve is compassionately muted and the game allows up to ten levels to be skipped (completing eschewed stages even reopens slots) frustration is bound to ensue during the game’s duration. As such, PS Vita owners that are easily exasperated may want to sidestep Dokuro’s virtues. More patient players will find that the title offers a both a wealth of content and one of the more appealing leads in a portable title. At the game’s current twenty dollar MSRP (available exclusively on the PlayStation Store), puzzle fans may want to take the plunge.

Dokuro PS Vita Review

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

20 comments

  1. Is this anything like Limbo? Kind of looks like Limbo to me.

  2. $20 is just a little too rich for my blood. I’d rather have 75 puzzles for $10 then 150 for $20. Maybe they should have split the game into two parts.

  3. Des, the one man reviewing machine (Ok, along with NOLA’s occasional stuff) strike again!

    Good review. One question- how long does it take for you to write a review this long. I have a feeling if I tried it would take all day.

    As for the game it looks cool. A bit of Limbo and a bit of Trine (without the other characters)?

  4. If there’s one thing I like about your reviews it’s that I learn something. Now I know what “katabasis” is. 😉 Let’s see if it’s enough to impress the ladies.

    • Maybe if they see the large extrusion of a PS Vita in your pocket they will throw themselves at you.

    • I’m leaning toward Orgarhythm for my Vita today. Hell, maybe I’ll get a little crazy and buy two games.

    • I thought that was more interesting that the game. Maybe a little forced as well.

      • This is the same reason why I stopped reading Verge/Polygon. The reviewers are more interest in showing off how smart they are instead of telling the average person if the game is good or not. Dude, tell me if its worth the money, don’t try to teach me shit I don’t care about.

  5. So is this single-player only? It would be cool if another person could be the princess and you had to work together.

  6. I picked it up last week because I was dying for a new Vita games (Cmon PS All Stars!)

    It’s ok. The puzzles are more frustrating that really fun. You don’t get the type of “A-HA” moments that something like Portal gives you.

    But hey, you’re a skeleton that’s kind of cute. So there’s that.

  7. I’m sure this game will really help Vita sales (rolls eyes)

  8. I would have rather seen a MOH: Warfighter review, myself.

  9. WEEABO GAMES FTW!!!!

  10. So how long does it take to finish?

  11. Maybe once it goes on sale.