Ahh, it was about time Doodle God made its way to Windows Phone. A free Flash game on PC, Doodle God has been converted to, and seen clones appear on, every major smartphone OS, so its appearance here is no great surprise. It is, however, very welcome.
Doodle God is a simple game of alchemy: playing the titular Doodle God, you are presented with the four elements, and encouraged to combine them. In so doing new elements are created, through which further combinations are possible, gradually creating an entire world’s worth of entities; from stone and metal to beasts and soldiers, even taking in abstracts such as music and religion along the way. It’s a game of guesswork and discovery, as the game never signposts the discoveries left to make, and one liable to end up as little more than trial and error as it goes on.
And yet it proves compelling. Seeing your new inventions, and the oft-amusing quotes and comments accompanying each one, is always a pleasure, and those moments where you cotton onto a new strain of the designers’ logic are wonderfully satisfying, allowing you to create series of elements in a row. It’s only when the game slows down, when you get bogged down with no idea what’s next, or can see possibilities that the designers have not included, that the game begins to drag. And in those moments you can always turn to the game’s hints; locked to a timer to stop you from overusing them, these provide the jumpstart you need to carry on.
A game with a simple but challenging idea, in which the only skills you require are intuition and doggedness, it’s no wonder that Doodle God has proven so popular, particularly on smartphones, where the slow, intermittent progress meshes perfectly with the stop-start nature of portable gaming. And if you’ve already rinsed the Flash game, there are reasons to try the Windows Phone version. For one thing, there’s the simple increase in elements – in the original there were but 115 to discover. In this version, there are 130 to start with, which increase on reaching that threshold. Plus five separate ‘quests’. Oh, and two minigames.
Indeed, the game is more structured – as you create more and more elements, you progress through different ‘chapters’ of the game, each given a short, narrated introductory sequence. Some of these chapters also add new elements, or even take away old ones – all for reasons which are perfectly logical.
The quests, meanwhile, provide twists on the generic gameplay – once again you are combining elements, but in these cases the elements are provided in different clusters, and often combine differently too, depending on the theme: so it is that you might be trying to design the ideal present for six famous figures, or recreating inventions from the 20th century. These are welcome expansions to the core formula, helping to inject a little life and variety into the game.
There are also two minigames, unlocked late in the game. These are cleverly conceived, taking Doodle God’s alchemic concepts and applying them to recognisable puzzle frameworks: so you have a game where elements drop from the sky, but rather than matching them you have to pair them with elements they can combine with. Similarly, a Bejewelled clone where instead of dragging elements to match them, you crush them into one another in the attempt to combine them. In both cases, successfully creating an element which can be combined with a neighbouring element will lead to them automatically combining, helping to earn you higher scores. These modes are fairly simplistic, but they’re a welcome addition, helping to round off the whole package.
All that said, the conversion process hasn’t been entirely benevolent. For some reason, the transition to Windows Phone has also seen the removal of certain elements – elements present in the other smartphone versions. Presumably in order to receive Xbox Live certification the game needs to fulfil certain requirements – requirements which require that certain, more problematic elements be removed. Only, these requirements follow those peculiarly American social mores, the ones which dictate that depictions of sexuality and of drug use are far less moral fibre than depictions of violence and warfare. So it is that the game keeps its soldiers and assassins, its corpses and blood, but removes sex and vodka, alcoholics and tobacco. Merging an apple and a cellphone also has a somewhat different effect than in the iPhone version of the game, but in this case the change is an amusing one…
There are also the old problems – the fact that the game’s logic is not always clear. Why have a distinction between ships and frigates, but not between different types of plane? And then there’s the fact that when chapters change, so too the combinations – which is to say that certain combinations only work after a chapter has passed, often with no explanation. Why does glass and water combine to form ice only after religion has been discovered?
For the most part, however, the logic remains consistent – if guessing what is left to discover remains a regularly frustrating experience. The fact is that this goes with the territory – this is a game all about second-guessing the designers, and never pretends to be anything else. It is, essentially, a point-and-click adventure consisting solely of puzzles – something which might seem nightmarish to those familiar with the more maddeningly designed adventure games with their convoluted, absurd puzzles, but which somehow manages to work.
A game of systemic discovery, of guesswork and intuition, it is as compelling as it is long, and well worth the asking price. The Xbox Live classification is but the cherry on top. A great addition to the Marketplace.
Doodle God Xbox Live Achievements
- Good Start (5 points): 6 elements created.
- Creator of Diversity (5 points): 10 groups created.
- Creator of Life (5 points): Life created.
- Creator of Humanity (5 points): Human created.
- God of Fun (5 points): Games created.
- Deity of Darkness (5 points): All Bad Things created.
- Practice Makes Perfect (5 points): Element created 3 or more times.
- Similar to Similar (5 points): Similar elements reacted.
- Creator of Civilization (10 points): Episode One passed.
- Creator of Technology (10 points): Episode Two passed.
- Creator of Modernity (10 points): Episode Three passed.
- Creator of Magic (10 points): Episode Four passed.
- Half the Kingdom (10 points): Save the Princess quest passed.
- Honorable Santa (10 points): Run, Santa, run quest completed.
- Heavenly Virtues (10 points): Sins vs. Virtues quest completed.
- Y2K Ready (20 points): Greatest Inventions quest completed.
- Brilliant Inventor (30 points): Episode One passed without hints.
- Master of the Worlds (40 points): All episodes passed without hints.
Doodle God Gameplay Video
Doodle God Screenshots
Version Under Review : 220.127.116.11
There is a trial version available and the full version is available for $2.99, we are not sure what the limitations of the trial version are.
[NOTE]EDIT: Saijo George :: If you purchased this game while it was an indie title and if you buy it again after it was approved as an xbox live game you can get in touch with Zune support and get a refund for it. Thanks for the TIP BassMasterKJB[/NOTE]
Our Rating for Doodle God
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