Exclusive Playstation Vita games are often overlooked, especially ones that don’t have a retail release. That’s a shame because Dokuro is a unique puzzler that might be one of the strongest games in the Vita’s lineup all year.
Dokuro tells the tale of a captured princess and the attempts of a skeleton to save her from the Dark Lord who wants to marry her. Controlling said skeleton, you have to go through the Dark Lord’s castle and the many puzzles it presents in order to set the princess free from her imprisonment. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, as there are 80+ challenges for you to conquer.
The gameplay challenges you in real-time as the princess will continue to move forward when she has an open path. For instance, the princess will stop and wait for you to lower a lift for her so she doesn’t just walk to her death. Some of the more challenging puzzles I ran into saw the princess get smashed under spikes and missing a step and falling to her death. Most of the time it’s your fault that either you or the princess died, which makes the game seem fair and not at all frustrating like some other puzzle games.
You won’t make it far into the game without noticing its beautiful art style. The way the charcoal-like world looks is stunning on the Vita’s OLED screen and makes the castle seem dreary. It’s not only shades of black and grey in the game, as the princess and potions add color that really pop in the otherwise hopeless castle.
Combat isn’t a focus in the game but it is used occasionally. In some of the earlier levels, I found myself having to hit enemies into levers in order to advance the princess forward through the level. There are also boss fights that use puzzle elements and combat in order to kill the enemy. It all works well, even if the combat can be slightly touchy at times.
Throughout the game you have to balance between two forms of your skeleton. The small, wimpy skeleton that you start out as and the human form after you drink a potion. Double-tapping four fingers on the Vita’s front screen activates human mode, which gives you the ability to carry the princess and kill enemies with his sword. Double-tapping the rear touch screen turns you back into the skeleton, whom can only stun enemies with his bone. You can only be in human form when you have potion left (after you acquire the potion early in the game), and balancing between what form you need is a fun challenge that’s added to the game.
Don’t miss out on this game. If you have a Vita and complain about the lack of games, go download Dokuro right now. It’s a steal for $20 and is one of the best Vita games on the market.