Game Review: Doodle Devil (PS Vita)

Game Review

Doodle Devil is a puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. The game is a sequel to Doodle God and itself is an improved port of the iOS version, which was released across all territories on November 4th 2010 and has saw releases since then on various other devices.

Whereas Doodle God mostly focused on the more positive, good and prosperous elements of life, such as life, friendship and the soul, while Doodle Devil mostly concentrates on the negative, evil and disgusting elements of life, such as various weapons, natural disasters and war. However, just as Doodle God contained some of Doodle Devil’s evil elements, Doodle Devil also contains some of Doodle God’s good elements, such as life, friendship and the soul.

Doodle Devil employs the same premise as Doodle God, but just as effectively. Doodle Devil sees you combining two elements together from two different groups in order to create new elements with the occasional exception were two elements may be combined from the same group to create a new element, which in turn creates new groups, which results in the creation of new elements that represent multiple life forms and components. There are a total of nineteen groups with up to ten elements contained within each group. As with Doodle God; the entire game could be considered as an emphasis on trial and error gameplay considering that you are just as likely to fail with an attempt to combine two elements together as you are to succeed; even when you are certain that a combination makes sense and is realistic, you may not necessarily be successful with your attempt.

Whereas Doodle God was separated into four episodes with each new episode providing different elements to create new combinations; Doodle Devil does away with this approach by granting a new additional element here or there, but without the episodic presentation and instead preferring to only stick with the groups. It is a wise design choice in the sense that it opens the game up to having a greater amount of possible element combinations at any given time in comparison to Doodle God that forced you into searching for that one more element to progress onto the next episode, which could become potentially frustrating and it is for that reason that this is a positive move; as it throws off the shackles and in doing so, allows you more freedom.

After every new element has been created a proverb or famous quote will be displayed underneath an illustration of the new element you have successfully created, which really provides an additional reward to creating new elements as you unlock a new proverb or quote on each occasion. The various quotes are from popular proverbs, historic figures, scientists and pop culture including famous people and characters from the past and present, such as the 16th United States President Abraham Lincoln; Daniel Kammen who is the Professor of Energy at the University of California and the climate advisor to the Obama administration; General George C. Marshall who was the third secretary of defence for the United States; an NASA astronaut who is also a retired Colonel of the United States Air Force called James Kelly; an American cartoonist and author called Lynda Barry; Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; the legendary rock band The Beatles; Publius Cornelius Tacitus from the Roman Empire; an American actor and comedian called Stephen Wright; an English romantic poet called William Wordsworth; and many more besides.

The controls are simple to grasp as they are well mapped to a variety of different control configurations that can be used simultaneously without having to switch from one to the other. The face button controls consist of pressing X to select the first group to the left of the screen and X again to select the second group to the right of the screen; X to highlight the first element and X again to highlight the second element or press and hold X on the first element and use the left or right analogue stick or the d-pad to drag it over to the second element for the two elements to be combined together; O to flip back a page in the book of elements and groups, O again to return to the main menu; triangle for a hint in relation to the next combination of elements; square for a reaction log for the elements; L for instructions; and changing the direction of the left or right analogue stick or pressing left, right, up, or down on the d-pad to manoeuvre the hand which acts as a cursor around the screen. The touch screen controls consist of tapping to select the first group to the left of the screen and tapping again to select the second group to the right of the screen; tapping to select the first element and tapping to select the second element or tapping and dragging the first element over to the second element with your finger for the two elements to be combined together; tapping on the backwards arrow icon situated on the top left to flip back a page in the book of elements and groups, tapping the pause icon to return to the main menu; tapping the light bulb icon located underneath the pause icon for a hint in relation to the next combination of elements; tapping the bullet points icon underneath the light bulb icon for a reaction log for the elements; and tapping the question mark icon situated on the bottom left for instructions. There is no option to use the rear touch pad, but considering the touch screen, left and right analogue sticks and face buttons are put to good use; the lack of rear touch pad support really is not an issue.

The graphics are simple, yet stylised in a way that makes them bolder and more vibrant than you may expect from a puzzle game that involves combining elements. The graphics mostly consist of icons that represent each of the nineteen groups and each of the 190 elements with all of the icons looking quite diverse from one another and rather detailed in their depiction of what they are supposed to represent.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menu, groups menu and elements menu and also includes support for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad and face buttons, although it lacks support for the rear touch pad. The background of the menu screens are dominated by red and gold tones as they contain a still image of the devil rising up from pentagrams.

The audio is pretty good with a humorous voice-over that makes intelligent comments when you have successfully combined a pair of elements together such as “Amazing!”, “Awesome!”, “Bravo!”, “Superb!” and more besides. There is wondrous and atmospheric music that really ties in with the Doodle Devil’s premise of creation for the purposes of both good and evil and various sound effects that signify when you have succeeded or failed in combining two elements together.

The trophy list includes thirteen trophies with nine bronze trophies, three silver trophies and one gold trophy. You may not necessarily find the trophies easy due to how many potential combinations there are amongst all of the elements. A couple of the easier trophies include the Combo bronze trophy for creating two elements in a row that you have not previously discovered and the Devil’s Dozen bronze trophy for creating thirteen elements in a row that have not previously been discovered. The trophies are mostly aimed at completing all of the groups of elements, such as the Accidental Well-doer bronze trophy for completing the Good group; the Vivisector bronze trophy for completing the Monsters group; the Walking in God’s Shoes bronze trophy for completing the Nature, Animals and Plants groups; the Science bronze trophy for completing the Science group; the Sweet Little Toys bronze trophy for completing the Weapons and Military groups; and the Space Superstar bronze trophy for completing the Space War group. Completing the nine particular groups as named for their six bronze trophies is not as easy as you may initially believe as due to the amount of possible combinations between elements, you are more than likely to come up short on the amount of elements that you need to create. Two of the hardest trophies are certainly the Unholy Chain silver trophy for creating fifty elements in a row that have not previously been discovered and The Evil Genius gold trophy for completing the entire game without using any hints or tips. I would estimate depending upon your imagination and creativity in regards to your approach of combining elements and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take around two to four hours to 100% the trophy list or as high as ten hours if you get stuck without a good trophy guide.

Just like in Doodle God; there are no difficulty levels, so the only difficulty you will have is naturally processing the two elements that you believe could be combined together to form a new element and you will definitely find yourself coming up against some stumbling blocks, although even when you do encounter the stumbling blocks you will always find your way past them within a maximum of a few minutes with a new element to show for it and to naturally progress further with.

As previously was the case with Doodle God; there are no online multiplayer modes, although I believe that this is not exactly the kind of game that would naturally support online multiplayer, so that is no big loss to the gameplay. However, there are no online leaderboards, which is a surprise as I could imagine there being online leaderboards for the best times set to complete each of the nineteen groups of the game, the best times set to complete the entire game and the longest chain of successfully combined elements without duplicating a currently existing combination or failing to make a new combination of elements.

Another trait that Doodle Devil shares with Doodle God is that once you have completed the game; you are forced to reset your progress in order to continue playing the game. However, just as with Doodle God; Doodle Devil is a puzzle game that is most certainly worth playing more than once and as you would have probably forgotten a few of the combinations this design choice provides a greater chance that players will play the game a second time.

The origins of Doodle Devil’s replayability are firmly placed in the same reasons of why anyone would have played Doodle God and that stems from the logic based premise of the puzzle genre as it will certainly have you racking your brains at times to figure out what the next potential combinations of elements are and it is that hook that will keep you returning to the game in hopes of finding the answers. There is certainly enough charm and entertainment in the game to make you feel as though it is the appropriate decision that once you have completed the game, you will delete your progress and attempt to find the elements all over again.

Overall, Doodle Devil is a quality puzzle and logic game with charm and humour. If you are a fan of Doodle God or puzzle and logic based games in general, then Doodle Devil is a great game that is quite recommendable and is a genre that has not received too much coverage on the Vita. The price point of Doodle Devil at £4.79 is the same as Doodle God, which provides equal parity between the two games and places them both in a respectable sweet spot of affordable puzzle and logic based portable gaming. The Vita version is better than the iOS and Android releases due to the additional control schemes provided by the touch screen, left and right analogue sticks and face buttons. It has to be said that Doodle Devil has the same level of replayability as Doodle God that would make me recommend both games very highly.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Doodle Devil
  • Publisher: 8 Floor Games
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 94Mb
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1 Comment

  1. – SECOND OPINION –

    I purchased this recently having loved the originality of Doodle God, the charm of the voice over, the simplistic gameplay and the casual approach meaning that I could dip in and out of it at will so there was never any pressure to play the game through from start to finish in a single sitting. Bearing all that in mind, I was optimistic when I purchased Doodle Devil and I couldn’t have been more disappointed.

    The opening story was a shadow of it’s former glory. Not only was there no animation, but a complete lack of introductory voiceover as well leaving it flat and drab and the rest of the game followed suit in this department. The entire approach in the voice over department seemed to take a minimalist approach compared to the original and I was left bewildered by this decision.

    The gameplay was still left intact and that would have been fine and I would have been quite happy with what should have still been an enjoyable game and a worthy purchase if it wouldn’t have been for one problem – the visuals. All of the elements, as with its predecessor, featured text underneath stating what they were. I don’t know what has gone wrong along the way bringing Doodle Devil to the Vita but the text has become so small that it is completely unreadable and both myself and my wife were unable to read anything that was on screen.

    As a result it has meant that combining elements is more luck and guesswork than logical and reasoning and the only way you can tell what each element is is though trying to identify one from another by the artwork alone, but when artwork has the potential to represent several different elements then you are in for a troublesome experience.

    Unless this text issue is resolved in an update patch, not only can I not see myself returning to this game in the near future but sadly it means that it’s one that I can’t recommend to anyone.

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