Dokuro Usability Review

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(No Steam trials this weekend, so I thought I'd review another mobile game. Thanks to Johnson 'Blue' Siau for the recommendation!)

GungHo Online Entertainment's Dokuro, available on the PS Vita, PC, iOS and Android, is a cute and quirky puzzle platformer in which you play as a skeleton worker trying to save a weeping princess from marrying the Dark Lord under duress. Flip switches, fight monsters, drink form-altering potions, and use magical chalk to guide the princess to safety.


Brilliantly Simple

Teaching the jumping skill.
The mobile version's controls are wonderfully clear.

Each of the buttons are well-placed (so I'm not pressing jump when I mean to attack, &c) and made big enough to press but not so large that they obscure the screen.
'Use' icon example

And, when you're trying to learn a new skill, the game displays a chalkboard in a Portal-esque fashion to demonstrate the new feature or explain a mechanic better.

Dokuro also succeeds in conserving screen space -- when the skeleton can interact with an object on that level, the sword 'attack' icon is replaced with the use 'hand' icon. Since the skeleton can only interact with specific items (chalk, potions, levers, &c), it makes sense to remove the 'use' icon as a permanent fixture on the UI.


Clean Menus

In addition to having easy controls, Dokuro's menus are also nice and clean. As shown to the left, the main menu clearly displays what options players can select -- and the pictures are pretty darn cute.

One thing that I liked -- although didn't try out -- is that the game also allows the players to change the button layout on the screen depending on device.



Writing at length is trickier when reviewing simpler games, I've found. The issues I've uncovered in many other games (namely, convoluted controls and redundancies) are absent entirely in the mobile version of Dokuro. The game is as lean as its skeleton protagonist -- everything stripped down to bare bones while still looking and feeling good. I would have liked to compare the Android and Steam versions -- but the PC version is $9.99 (!!), and I didn't feel like buying a second copy of the same game.

While reading other reviews on Steam and Google Play, it sounds like others feel that some of the game levels are needlessly difficult -- but that hasn't been my experience at all. The levels felt balanced to me -- with enough practice, skill, and timing, really any level can be beat. Just be prepared to die -- and see the princess die -- in numerous ways.

After tax, you can buy Dokuro on Google Play for $2.15. It's very good -- I highly recommend it.


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