I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something very cynical about Doodle God. On its face, it’s no worse than free-to-play chart-toppers like Candy Crush or Clash of Clans. Though it costs a dollar, its aim is the same low-commitment, highly-addictive gameplay. But Doodle God finds a way to stretch even the limits of having “gameplay.” I’m not one to complain that some interactive entertainment or another “isn’t a game.” I even enjoy plenty of games that others would consider tedious (see Papers Please: The Greatest Game of All Time). Even so, Doodle God somehow falls to the lower limits of my game-o-meter.
For the uninitiated, Doodle God is a series of games (now approaching dozens of entries) in which you are presented with a list of elements, and you must combine them in order to form new elements, with the end goal of filling out your list. Make no mistake: you aren’t combining them in some sort of complex simulation, or even watching cool animations as your elements mold into one another. You are selecting two icons in the hope that they bump together and create a new icon.
While recent updates to the older entries (like Doodle God and Doodle Devil) have added “quests” and other sub-goals to guide your combinations, Doodle God: 8-bit Mania is built on the most limited foundation, at least at first glance. After expanding my list to 20-30 elements, I was left using pure trial-and-error, driven on by a counter that weakly coaxed me toward the complete 125 elements, ranging from Water to Tools to Thunderbird.
Things improved a bit when I investigated the game’s “hint” system. Once every ten minutes, you can use “Show Groups” which opens two subcategories of elements, telling you that there is some combination to be found between them. Once every minute, you can use “Show Element” which displays an undiscovered element for you to figure out on your own. I wouldn’t consider these “hints” so much as “features necessary to provide any sort of guidance in the experience.” There are hints that will just grant you a new element, but beyond one freebie, those cost extra.
Maybe I’m just being a party pooper, though. There’s certainly an “oh, I get it” pleasure to figuring out a strange combo (Warrior + Dragon = Hero + Blood). And the pixelated art in 8-bit Mania is the best in the series, even if it deviates from the titular “doodles.” The discovery of the hint system made me far less grumpy than when I started, and at its very best, it provides a couple interesting logic puzzles.
Still, if you are dead-set on a Doodle God game, there are plenty with more content than this. And even within that narrow spectrum, I’m still nearly offended by the idea that this is supposed to be an enjoyable experience that one would pay money for. Trust me, treat yourself to some Candy Crush instead.
Is it Hardcore?
Very Much Not!
A skimpier version of an already-skimpy game, albeit with prettier art.