By Justin Guillou / June 1st, 2020
|Release Date||March 4th, 2020|
|Platform||PC, Nintendo Switch|
We’ve seen a lot of indie games created as a throwback to the “Good old days” of gaming back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Dogurai is one of the newer instances of this trend and attempts to try to capture an aesthetic and style reminiscent of the original Game Boy. It’s clear that the developers were big fans of the console and tried their best to replicate how a game released back then would have played. This is both Dogurai’s greatest strength and also its biggest weakness.
The game takes place in a dystopian future where robots dominate the land and their creator is out to take over the world. You play as Bones, a dog samurai from the special forces that is out to overthrow the robot menace. There really isn’t a whole lot more story than that because the focus in this game is on the action. Your character will jump, slash and slide his way through 8 levels filled with enemies and obstacles. There are some more advanced moves you can pull off, such as slashing through enemy bullets if you time your sword slash just right or triggering a special QTE where you can slash the enemies multiple times in a row. The stages are big but also have a secret item you need to find and collect in order to see the game’s True Ending. At the end of each level you will encounter a boss. The bosses are a lot of fun as they have much more interesting and involved patterns and will even take advantage of their surroundings, such as clinging against a wall. If you manage to attack them at just the right moment you can trigger the aforementioned QTE for a particularly devastating attack. One fight in particular was fun since the character had a similar ability to you and you needed to perform the QTE not to attack but rather to counter their attacks.
The issue with Dogurai is that the game is too simple for its own good. Your move-list is very limited and while some of the boss fights are fun, the levels themselves blend together very quickly and are not particularly memorable. The level design doesn’t really push the full potential of your character’s abilities, leaving you feeling like something was missing from the whole experience. It would have been neat if you gained new abilities and were able to use them in the levels, especially considering the game lets you tackle the stages in any order. That could have added a lot of replay value and strategy to the game. Also since this is supposed to replicate the feel of an old Game Boy game, it shares some of the flaws of those games as well. Quite of few of the levels feature annoying leaps of faith, which make progressing feel almost like trial and error at times. Thankfully the Normal mode gives you unlimited lives so there’s plenty of room for error.
The game features a very simple graphical style however every level has a different color palette by default. The only problem with this is that they sometimes don’t blend too well with the sprites and background assets, making the action a bit blurry. I realize this was yet another attempt at replicating the Game Boy feel, but I feel like they could have done more to help the assets stand out to make the game easier on the eyes. The music also feels like something from a Game Boy however, the tunes themselves are very basic and not really memorable. There are many Game Boy games with fun and varied soundtracks, I really wish they had done a bit more with the compositions to make them more exciting and breathe more life into these levels.
The game will last about an hour or two depending on your platforming skills. If you want more of a challenge you can try the Hard difficulty mode where you are given only 6 lives to complete the entire game. For $5, Dogurai might tickle that nostalgic itch for a bit, however once you get over the initial thrill of playing a modern Game Boy style game there isn’t much else here that will keep your attention. The game never truly lives up to its full potential, but as a relatively inexpensive little game, it’s not bad.
Review copy provided by the publisher
2DDogurainintendo switchNintendo SwitrchPCplatformer