I’ve got the whole word in my hands.
That’s all anyone would ever desire, right? And that’s where Doodle God: Ultimate Edition hopes to swoop in, making the leap from being a mobile phone app, first launching almost seven years ago, to becoming a fully-fledged console game, featuring all the bells and whistles added to it along the way – albeit with a higher cost. It’s super cheap to pick up as an app, so what does Doodle God bring to the console market that warrants the pricier value given to it?
Honestly? I haven’t got the foggiest idea.
The premise of Doodle God is to place the creation of all things in the world firmly in your hands, with only four base elements – Earth, Fire, Air and Water – to get started. Choosing two of the tiles at hand to merge together will produce a new element entirely to work with, and this can in turn be used in collaboration with the other elements to create even more. An example would be Earth + Water = Swamp. And you need to do this throughout the main game (literally titled Main Game, I kid you not) mode of Doodle God, until you eventually reach a set amount and then a new episode opens up, throwing a unique element into the mix such as Void, and later Magic. Across the four episodes available there will be 249 different elements to find.
As you can probably tell, matching tiles isn’t the most exciting action to flesh out a ‘puzzle’ game – really, that’s all there is to it – but the real problem comes in the complete randomness of which elements go together. At the beginning, there are so few tiles that even without any common sense you can match them without too much hassle. Once the number of tiles increases to say 30 or 40, the trial and error approach becomes a lengthy chore. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I would’ve ever come to the conclusion of Ice being made from Water and Glass. A book and a TV combine to produce a computer… obviously.
This is the kind of madness needing to be dealt with if you’re to succeed in finding them all, and it’s a real pain in the arse when you’ve no idea as to what you should be even trying to find as the next match. I guarantee almost every person who has the unfortunate experience of playing Doodle God will end up using a guide; it’s just a matter of time. What I really don’t like (yes there are more negatives coming), are the micro-transactions to buy Mana to use on hints and other in-game helps. Sure it offers some hints for free, however when they are dried up, and believe me they will do swiftly, the only real options are to give up, cheat via the internet, or splash the cash. That shouldn’t be the case for a game that’s supposed to be fun.
Due to the inclusion of all the previously released features and modes, if for any reason you do find enjoyment from Doodle God, there’s quite a bit of content to get through. Aside from the main mode, Quests offer the same puzzling nature, but with a theme in order to tell a bare bones tale of surviving on an island or saving a princess throughout progression. The same problem of not knowing what to combine rears its ugly head in no time, rendering it another pointless exercise.
Artifacts is another side mode and it gives you a rough idea of what it wants, leaving you to decide which three elements from your rather large arsenal will form such a creation. Where the Puzzles mode attempts to break the mould is by giving you some elements and a final goal to reach e.g. going from a nuclear bomb to a flower. That’s all groovy, but as is the case with everything else, the same boring action and method of figuring it out just compounds the misery. Tournament is a strange mode too, pitting you and two others in a quick 30 second battle of elemental knowledge. The game starts charging Mana after a couple of goes; a decision that baffles me to no end.
Some may think I’ve been incredibly harsh on Doodle God so far, but I’ve not even begun to describe my dismay at the counter-intuitive controls in place on Xbox One. When matching from the book of elements, the Left-stick and LT are used to open up groups and select the first element, whilst the right-stick and RT does the same for the second element. You’re effectively controlling two mirrored halves of the book and it doesn’t ever feel natural to do. The only thing worse than monotonous trial and error, is having a terrible time trying to make it happen.
Searching for positives, the results of the combinations appear on a large spherical Earth designed in a cartoonish style – this gets covered in them after a while, which looks sort of cool. Achievements are pretty easy to pick up too; with all obtainable in no time at all if you take the online guide method and don’t use any in-game hints.
Doodle God: Ultimate Edition falters in many areas, but mainly in the one-dimensional, so called puzzle solving and the sheer pot luck it often requires. Instead of making me feel like a god, I am constantly left like a monkey, bashing buttons and hoping a masterpiece comes out. The terrible control system simply adds to my pain, and whilst there is a lot to do, any supposed fun wears off in mere minutes.
I’m not sure I want the whole world in my hands anymore; it’s bloody tedious.
I’ve played this on my Windows Phone and it was engaging for about half an hour until, as you rightly point out, the sheer randomness of the matches destroyed any fun to be had. I seem to remember it being free, or not costing much, so asking for £8 AND have IAP is surely taking the p…, Will not be buying.