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Review #053: Escape Doodland (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewed By: Chad M.

Developer: PlayWay

Publisher: QubicGames

Category: Arcade, Action, Adventure, Platformer

Release Date: 11.30.2018

Download Escape Doodland from the Nintendo eShop here.

Doodling To Escape

In school as a kid—and even as an adult—while taking notes or just listening to the teacher, my mind would begin to wander, and I would doodle. Usually, it was a war with stick man armies who would stop at nothing to come home victorious. So, I’m guessing the developers over at PlayWay used to have their own doodle wars as well. They took it a step further, as they launched a successful Kickstarter to make their idea of bringing a hand-drawn doodle game to life.

Whoever Smelt It Dealt It

In Escape Doodland, the game begins in—you guessed it—Doodland, where the inhabitants who live there are named Doodlers. These goofy looking—though cute—creatures are peaceful and brave. You can play as multiple different doodlers, which you can unlock within the game.

All of the doodlers are very unique looking and sounding, but all have one thing in common: horrible stomach issues that they have chosen to use as a tool. In the game, you are chased out of Doodland by the Omnomus, a huge monster that will stop at nothing to eat you. So, as you bust out of town, you must platform to get away from the Omnomus, using your farting powers to assist you in reaching safety.

Gameplay & Fun Factor

The control set up is very straight-forward, as you only use the directional pad and one other button. The doodler is on an automatic run, and you have to time the jumps, avoiding danger all while outrunning certain death. The directional pad allows use of the doodlers’ gastric issues to fart-power dash, fart-power jump, and fart in the monster’s face, momentarily incapacitating him and allowing the doodler to gain some distance. The one button is used to jump and double-jump, which you will be using to not only jump, but also swim and fly later on.

As I said before, not only is the Omnomus hunting you down, but so many things can kill you over the course of the ten levels. This is something the developers use straight out of the gate to make things difficult, as the settings are only Hard and Harder. Through the different levels, you collect matches to use your farting powers, and green beans to unlock other powers and buy new characters and items from the shop. By collecting a certain amount of green beans, you will be rewarded with gold beans. You need gold beans to unlock levels and buy certain special characters in the shop.

As soon as I started playing Escape Doodland, I was cursing the game up and down, as this is meant to be hard from the start. After I got used to the jump scheme and how to use the powers effectively, though, it became less painful. Some levels were so fun to run through that I would run through multiple times to gather more green beans, and to play the harder mode, in order to unlock another gold bean. Though some levels are very hard, they are kind enough to sprinkle in checkpoints throughout—but you only get three lives, then back to the start of that level!

You can tell the devs were aiming to make a tough platformer, but it never felt like it was too hard, as I played through the game in a couple sittings. At moments, the game tends to rely on crude humor that might have been my cup of tea when I was younger. My kids got a kick out those parts, yet couldn’t make it through a single level if their lives depended on it. So, in that regard, it felt a little skewed on its targeted demographic.

One thing I had seen on the Kickstarter was a multiplayer mode. At this point it is not in the game, and I’m not sure if it will be added in the future. This looked so fun in the trailer on the Kickstarter, so I definitely wish it would have made it to the final product on the Switch. I also hope they add a few more levels in the future, even in paid DLC format, as the price at the time of launch is fair.

Audio & Visuals

The notebook paper hand-drawn art is gorgeous, and reminds me of doodling on my notes back in school as a kid. The characters are not only comical and well-drawn, but also cute and easy to care about enough to want them to survive. The music is upbeat and catchy, and fits perfectly with the comical drawings. It also seems to tie into when you jump during platforming. The game ran smoothly both docked and handheld.

Final Thoughts

My time spent in Doodland was fun, though frustrating at times. It was a delight how they were able to reach into everyone’s mind to bring these doodles to life, making them jump off the screen with pure nostalgia. Even better, they did this without having to make a retro-looking game—as so many do now—using 8- or 16-bit graphics. Though the lack of multiplayer player is a letdown, I’m hoping that if it does well, we will see it in the future or in a sequel. As for now, this is a solid indie game that can challenge you, depending on your platformer skill level. If you want a fun platformer with gorgeous artwork, then Escape Doodland would be worth giving a shot.

Final Score: 7.5/10

Download Escape Doodland from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided By MMPR

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