Unrequited love is a theme you don't see much in videogames. Far too often games will deal with a sappy romance, or no romance at all. Admittedly, it's tough to really capture that feeling, but some games can pull it off with grace.

Enter Dokuro [$1.99] -- a game about a former skeletal minion that has a change of heart, and decides that he wants to break a captured princess out of her cell. It's a game that certaintly has a lot going for it based on the premise alone, but there are a few holdups along the way.

Dokuro is an action platformer through and through. The titular character can jump, move left or right, and attack with his bone mace at the touch of a button. Despite the fact that all of the contextual actions are done with a virtual pad, it all works quite well, as split-second decisions aren't necessarily the most important part of the game.

Dokuro 1

But this dark little adventure is a puzzle game as well, as you're tasked with leading the princess through a set of intertwined levels from left to right. She'll follow you slowly across bridges and terrain, so long as she has floor to stand on. Sometimes that might mean lowering a platform or two or clearing out a few enemies, but either way, the gameplay is generally the same throughout. Boss fights and other arena-like confrontations also help break up the action, although those portions are few and far between, sadly.

One of my favorite things about the game is that progress is basically seamless. As you complete each stage, the next will immediately start in sequence -- eliminating a lengthy "end of level" placard. It keeps the pacing on point, and the added ability to skip 10 stages in total through the campaign is a cool feature. You'll slowly grow to really appreciate these features too, because the game's 150 levels can feel like a slog.

Dokuro runs the risk of dragging on in the beginning, but once you get the potion that can morph you into a handsome prince, it picks up a bit. At the touch of a button our hero can transform from skeleton to dashing young man, both with their own advantages (the human form can pick up the princess and fight with grace, and the skeleton can double jump, and is generally more nimble). It's a really cool mechanic that not only feels unique gameplay wise, but it also adds to the story and the overall theme of the game, as the princess swoons over the prince, and quickly forgets the tiny little skeleton -- because she literally can't see him.

Dokuro 2

Beyond these conventions, chalk comes into play throughout the game in three varities -- white, which can connect certain objects in the environment -- red, which can ignite flames -- and blue, a chalk type that grants the ability to create water. Like the core levels before each new chalk concept, these three mechanics can far overstay their welcome, as there are too many stages that rely far too heavily on them. Rather than mix things up every set or so, Dokuro will instead throw the same repetitive concepts at you over and over -- making this the perfect game to take a break from every so often. It doesn't help that the chalk controls in particular need exact precision to pull off, even on a mobile screen.

Everything has to go right in Dokuro's puzzles, with nary a checkpoint in sight. Having to work through almost 30 minutes for a stage that involves 30 moving pieces, only to have it all apart at the last second is infuriating. It's tough, because so many of the game's concepts work as intended -- but for every awesome "eureka" moment, there's a moment of pure disgrace and frustration involving one tiny nuanced or broken puzzle.

Dokuro is occasionally dry and occasionally frustrating, but it has an endearing art style and plenty of bright spots. Given the obtuse nature of some of the puzzles, it's perfect for "stop and go" play, and thus, suits the nature of the mobile platform quite well. If you enjoy getting stumped to the tune of action platformers, Dokuro is your huckleberry.

TouchArcade Rating

  • SrMomo

    3.5? LOL. This game deserves better. 5/5 for me. I mean, c'mon clumsy ninja gets 4? I don't get the tA rate criteria.

    • nini

      Is the 3.5/5 not to your liking? They really should have consulted with you first so you wouldn't feel offended by someone not sharing your opinion.

      • Jack Black

        Is the 5/5 not to your liking? He really should have consulted with you first so you wouldn't feel offended by someone not sharing your opinion.

      • Lazer Kat

        But I would say very few people who've played this game would give it that low of a score.
        The reviewer called it an "action platformer through and through".

        Did they even play it?

    • Boony Tuesday

      There isn't a TA rating criteria. They don't rate games on quality. It's how much the reviewer recommends the game. Kinda sad in a way because the "rating" influences metacritic scores, which is based on quality of game and not a gut feeling if most people will like it.

  • Kane

    Enjoying the game. So underrated, iOS version better than PS Vita.

    • Boony Tuesday

      Agreed. Don't let the low TA rating influence anyone from purchasing this. It's a fun game. Most of the time, TA ratings don't make sense anyway.

      • SumoSplash

        Double agreed.

        Limbo, 3/5. Minigore 2, 3.5/5.

        God of Boredom, 5/5.

  • Fangbone

    I agree with 3.5 for this game. While it's fun and does some things well it is not great. 5 stars should be reserved for the cream of the crop.

    • Lazer Kat

      I don't think this is a 5/5, but very few people would rate it that low. It's definitely a much better game than a 3.5/5.
      4.5/5 for me,

  • crunc

    I have this on my Vita. Or I did. I didn't get far before losing interest. It looks better in stills than it does in motion and there's just nothing all that fun about it.

  • MrKershaEsq

    Glad I held off on buying this.

    • Bliquid

      You shouldn't.
      It'much more interesting than the reviewer says, and at this price (and no IAP), i feel safe to tell you that you could see for yourself.

  • ksuther

    This game is great! You can change your character from a prince to a skeleton at will! What's not to like.

  • Brimah

    In sorry... Reading the review it feels like Chris didn't understand the game or ... I just don't know what.

    First, this is NOT an action platformer, it is a puzzle game more than action. Mario is an action platformer, this is not even close.

    Second, he states some puzzles took him 30 minutes? The entire game, all 150 stages, can be done in 250 minutes or less as there was an achievement for it. I can't recall one taking me over 10 and that's when I didn't know what the trick was. Once I did, more like 5 and those were rare.

    Is the game repetitive? It's like saying solving crosswords is repetitive. Sure you do the same things over and over, sometimes the words are easy to find as is the solution to the puzzle. Then you get one that stumps you, like any puzzle should. Those are the great moments.

    There is no twitch jumping, an army of enemies to defeat, it is a puzzle platformer, but a puzzle game foremost. The platforming is just another aspect of the puzzle.

    Yes, I have heard over and over about the TA reviews are based on that persons ability to recommended a game. A $.99 with a bare minimum of 4 hours of game play that was a full title of $20 on the Vita, I don't understand how you couldn't recommended this to any puzzle game fan. Only way this makes sense is if the review was "phoned in" as they say or Chris does not like puzzle games. Either way, I won't be able to trust his opinion on games sadly as I do so many reviewers on TA. If you are a puzzle game fan, 5/5. People want console quality games on mobile, and this is a great one that is easily worth the original $20.

    • Lazer Kat

      I actually question whether he even played it
      The entire review feels like he simply skimmed through the game instead of playing it.

      • Magnalon

        He actually beat and reviewed the Vita version last year. Also, a 7 is a good score.

  • Renegade

    I think 3.5/5 is a fair rating for this game when considering the general population of gamers. I, personally, would definitely give it a 5/5.

    I recommend that you read the review (in contrast with simply looking at the rating). If it sounds even slightly interesting to you, then I say that you should get it.

    If puzzle games click with you, this will probably be one of your all time favorites. Even if you're not that into puzzles it's still a nice game, but the 3.5 rating basically sums it up for those looking for action platforming.

Dokuro Reviewed by Chris Carter on . Rating: 3.5