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In most games, escort missions are annoying and usually end up with the player being frustrated. Dokuro manages to create an entire game around escort missions, while simultaneously avoiding the problems that usually come with them.
The story takes place within a demon lord’s castle. Said demon has kidnapped a princess who he intends to make his bride. Dokuro, a small skeletal minion of the demon lord, see the princess crying and decides to rescue her. What follows is many levels of platforming and puzzles, with the princess needing to be protected along the way. These levels are made more complicated by the fact the princess constantly moves ahead, only stopping if blocked by objects or an enemy, meaning that you must keep an eye on her at all times. Thankfully, she’ll at least try to run away from enemies, and won’t run into spikes or pits.
Dokuro himself has a few different abilities that he must use to safely escort the princess. He can double jump, and has a basic melee attack that temporarily disables enemies. More interesting is his ability to turn into a prince, who has the ability to defeat enemies and can even carry the princess, making it easier to manoeuver her through levels. There’s only one catch; Dokuro can only stay in this form for a limited time before turning into his usual self. This requires you to manage when you transform, making sure that you only change when you need to.
As you make your way further through the game, new gameplay mechanics are introduced. Dokuro gains access to different coloured chalks, which are used similar to the celestial brush in Okami. These have different uses, like the ability to light fires or attach objects together. Chalk is used with the touchscreen and this works well enough, though it can get annoying since the game doesn’t pause when you start drawing.
The story is split into groups of 10 levels, with a boss at the end of each one. These bosses require different strategies, and do a good job of incorporating puzzle elements into each fight. The princess is also taken away during these fights, allowing you to fully concentrate on the bosses.
Dokuro is also impressive from a graphical standpoint too. While it’s obviously not making full use of the Vita’s hardware, the chalky 2D sprites look nice and add charm to the game. We’re particularly fond of Dokuro himself with his permanently angry expression, which doesn’t look particularly menacing thanks to his small size.
The only real problem we have with the game is the frustration that comes with some of the later levels. The fact that there are no mid-stage checkpoints, coupled with the fact that enemies and hazards will kill you if even if you barely scape them, makes some of the more complex puzzles even more annoying. Thankfully, most levels aren’t too long, meaning that you’ll probably only spend a lot of time on stages near the end of the game.
Dokuro is an impressive puzzle game that is full of smartly designed levels that require you to use everything you have learned throughout each stage. It’s also really long, with there being 150 levels of puzzles for you to enjoy. The fact that it’s only £11.99 in the PlayStation Store when in Japan it was full price only sweetens the deal. As long as you can handle some hard puzzles, Dokuro is game that you should not miss.
We created all screenshots with the Vita version.