Sunday, August 4, 2013
Dokuro - Escort Quest: The Game
Just recently, Dokuro was added to the line-up of the Playstation Vita's Instant Game Collection, so I decided I'd grab it up and take a look at it, since it's something I've been rather interested in for a while thanks to the rather unique art style it's got going on. It was not a game that I paid close attention to, however, which shows as I thought of it as a sort of puzzle platformer instead of what it actually is...which is a puzzle-platformer wherein you have a little partner of sorts along for the ride. This is....more than a little off-putting to me as I started to get into it, but it was something that I sort of would become cool or at least not a hassle as things went on. It was wishful thinking of course, and as we all know, wishful thinking and two quarters usually just leaves you with fifty cents.
The story behind the game is basically that you are some kind of skeleton knight and a demon kidnaps a beautiful princess and is holding her hostage because that's just kind of what happens. The skeleton thinks that's kind of shitty and then just goes and frees her because he likes her or something, so she starts leaving. Problem is, she wasn't being held, you know, right by the front door or anything, so she has to get -out- of the castle and be free, but the thing is, she's patently unable to do so without a little help. And that is, indeed, where you come into play, being the thing that aids her escape by basically doing everything in your power to ensures she has a level piece of flooring or something equivalent under her feet since she can't jump worth a damn or....be...useful in any capacity whatsoever. Really, she's more of a hindrance, as you might guess.
Escort quests are usually the most reviled thing you can put in any form of video game simply because the AI of the escorted is generally coded in such a way that it's a wonder they don't actually trip over their own feet and snap their neck. It's not inherently wrong - after all, if someone is battle-worthy enough in the worlds that such quests inhabit, then they generally don't need an escort - but it's definitely an exaggeration of the issue at hand, because oftentimes they're not really programmed with surviving in mind. Egregiously so. The princess in Dokuro is of the same cloth, willfully walking into angry looking things with swords, bottomless pits in the right circumstances, and under anything of considerable weight as it's very obviously coming down from above. She is at the level where we consider the NPC "beyond saving" because clearly nature and Darwin have something out for them.
That's not to say there's nothing good to the game, as it does feature a few neat little things from my minimal exposure to it. You get some magic chalk which you can use to connect ropes at certain points which will likely be a neat mechanic....eventually. Beyond that, you get a potion that allows you to transform into a handsome knight who is not only stronger (can actually kill foes) but is also able to carry the princess at points. On the downside, he's taller meaning that it's impossible for you to get through certain parts, and he cannot jump as high or as often as the skeleton form, meaning mobility is a bit limited. Both of these points are kind of hampered by the fact that the controls are a bit finnicky - jumping doesn't feel like it's right where it needs to be which is a problem for a platformer, and the melee combat as it is is far too simplistic while also leaving you open for counter-attack as a fault, not a mechanic. Even though the levels are rather short and compact, these two little factors can often cause one to drag on forever which is...less than ideal.
Perhaps I'm just not the best judge for this game since it's admittedly in a vein of things that is not my cup of tea. Puzzle-Platformers, by and large, go right on by on my interest radar, so really the only reason I grabbed this was because it was free and because it looked unique. And in that respect, it -is- unique, and is definitely something you should check out yourself. But after clearing the first boss and finding myself sighing in frustration a few levels into the second chapter because I keep missing easy jumps and getting smashed by falling roofs that work much faster than it looks, it's clear I'm not enjoying it. I don't think I can get into it enough to find the enjoyment that I'm assured is sunken within it somehow. I'm still well within the "Give it a good shot" phase, but it's wearing quite thin and come Tuesday when I load up Dragon's Crown into my Vita, it'll be a forgotten non-issue.
I think what bothers me the most is the melee because you hit things, they fly back and, if you're playing the knight, they then explode, but why? And doing that as the skeleton knight just...seems superfluous, really.