Game Review: Doodle God (PS Vita)

Game Review

Doodle God is a puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. The game is an improved port of the iOS version, which itself was released across all territories on June 11th 2010 and on December 24th 2010 for Android devices.

Doodle God 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 fifteen groups with up to ten elements contained within each group. The entire game could be considered as 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.

There are four episodes of the game including: beginning; technology; modern age; and world of magic. The first episode (Beginning) is available from the very start with four elements to help you progress, while the second episode (Technology) requires you to reach 100 elements before it is unlocked; the third episode (Modern Age) unlocks after you have achieved 133 elements; and the fourth episode (World of Magic) is unlocked once you have met the target of 170 elements, which then enables you to progress on towards completing the game.

There are new combinations and possibilities from each of the four episodes, which really keep the gameplay feeling fresh as it means that you are experimenting with different elements. For instance in the first episode at the very start, you will be combining elements such as Earth and fire to create lava; air and Earth to create dust; air and fire to create energy; and much more besides. Successfully completing the first episode and reaching the second episode will see you receiving a void element as a reward, which allows you to create new elements, such as combining the void with glass to create a light bulb and other combinations to create new elements. The third episode sees the introduction of further new elements, such as religion; medicine; new types of animals; and more, while the fourth episode introduces magic for further new elements. The process of being rewarded with a new element for reaching the following episode is important to how the game plays out; as each new element most likely results in new combinations that lead to the creation of new elements.

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 famous people from the past and present, such as Al Gore; Benjamin Franklin; Charles Dickens; Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald; Francois Rabelais; Jimmy Fallon; Leonardo da Vinci; Muhammad Ali; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Samuel Goldwyn; Sterling G. Ellsworth; William Shakespeare; 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 episodes menu and O once more 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 episodes menu and tapping the backwards arrow icon again 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 fifteen groups and each of the 228 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, episodes 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 looks very colourful and vibrant as they contain a still image with trees, foliage, bridges and buildings in the foreground and the creator of everything in the background.

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 “Elementary!” and rather sarcastic and funny comments such as “You’re making it all up” and “Oi! I’m watching you!” There is wondrous music that really ties in with the Doodle God’s premise of creation and various sound effects that signify when you have succeeded or failed in combining two elements together.

The trophy list includes eleven trophies with six bronze trophies, four 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 Great Combinator silver trophy for creating five elements in a row that have not previously been discovered. The trophies are mostly aimed at completing all four of the episodes without using any of the tips or hints to progress. This 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. The hardest trophy is certainly the Master of the Worlds gold trophy for creating the world without using any hints or tips for the entire game. 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.

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.

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 four episodes of the game and the best times set to complete the entire game.

The replayability of Doodle God 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 God is a quality puzzle and logic game with charm and humour.

If you are a fan of puzzle or logic based games, then Doodle God is a great game that is quite recommendable and is a genre that has not been overly covered on the Vita. The only negative point is that £4.79 is certainly a dearer price than the iOS and Android versions, although it could be argued that the Vita version is better due to the additional control schemes provided by the touch screen, left and right analogue sticks and face buttons. Either way you look at it; Doodle God is certainly worth the cost of admission.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Doodle God
  • Publisher: 8 Floor Games
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 59Mb

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