Dokuro is a puzzle-platform hybrid starring a little skeleton who has embarked on a second life as an unlikely hero and rescuer of princesses.
Fittingly enough, Dokuro itself has been granted a second life on mobile platforms, having initially appeared on PS Vita - which is why you probably hadn't heard of it before.
Now's your chance to go gallivanting through the underworld with a princess in tow. Who knew the scenery in hell could be so pleasant?
Skeleton in love
Dokuro calls on your reflexes as well as your smarts. You play as an agile skeleton kid who serves the Lord of the Realm of the Undead. One dark night, this demon lord drags home a distressed princess from the world above, and skeleton kid quickly falls for her. When his boss reveals his intention to marry the princess, the bony boy decides to help her flee.
Despite skeleton kid's burning love, the princess can't see him, which complicates the rescue mission a bit. The princess walks in a straight line, halting only when there's danger before her, or just uneven ground (she's a princess, for pity's sake - you expect her to clamber like a commoner?).
A simple princess
Whenever the princess hits a roadblock, you need to observe the surrounding environment and find a way to let her progress safely. Sometimes this is as simple as jumping up on a ledge and hitting a switch. But quite often the answer is a bit more complex and requires you to quickly manipulate a series of levers, platforms, and traps.
Each series of hazards counts as a level, and each level ends with the princess inspecting a flower that subsequently becomes a checkpoint.
If you mess up on the next challenge, you're sent back to your last checkpoint. This system usually works well, though it can be frustrating when you flub the end of a longer puzzle and are forced to start from the beginning.
Behold the Demon Prince
Happily, Dokuro's puzzles are more intriguing than infuriating. The game has a few mechanics in place that keep things interesting.
For example, you eventually acquire a potion that lets skeleton kid transform into a dashing demon prince for a short time. When the demon prince is active, he can carry the princess and kill enemies with his rapier, but he's terrible at jumping.
It's therefore important to switch between the prince and the skeleton in order to solve most puzzles. You're also issued magic chalk that's used to hang up platforms and re-attach vital puzzle components.
Dokuro's black-and-white visuals lend a lot of atmosphere to your journey - especially since the underworld takes on a lively blue tint when the demon prince is in command. The soundtrack is subdued and stays out of your way when you're chewing over tough puzzles.
Dokuro has a bone spur here and there that might aggravate you - for instance, the way the game's controls can occasionally act up and make grabbing objects a messy affair. It's largely a great puzzle title, though, so make like a demon prince and pull it into your embrace.
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