Genre: Action, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developer|Publisher: indev-studio | CFK
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US Everyone
Price: US $11.99 | UK £8.99 | EU €11,99
Release Date: February 25th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to CFK
DOTORI is a platformer where you play as a squirrel called Rico on a quest to save his sister Lottie, from an evil Owl (name not given – let’s call him…Mr Owl). A simple premise for a simple platformer. What stands out about the game from the get-go is its cute art style. Rico may have a scar over one eye but he is a cute looking fella even though he really doesn’t look like a squirrel. In fact, his striped tail gives the impression he is more of a raccoon cross of some sorts. But I’m clearly thinking far too much into this.
The game plays as a straightforward platformer with some puzzle elements. Your goal is simply to reach the end of each level, collecting the golden acorns along the way if you choose. Often you are presented with various blocks to help you progress through the levels. These may be springboards or blocks that you can throw and pause in mid-air to help you access higher platforms. There are also moments where you need to fling a block into a sea of buzzsaw’s and sort of ride it to the end by jumping at the right time.
The game has forty levels but plods along at what feels like a very slow pace. There are no enemies to defeat, just standard platforming which rapidly increases in difficulty after the first ten levels. If you hit a hazard or fall off a platform you die instantly and return to the nearest checkpoint. I don’t mind difficult platformers but it does help if the controls feel responsive which brings us to the games biggest issue.
The controls just didn’t click with me. Movement feels slow and clunky and doesn’t flow well for a platformer even though you have a sprint button. You can only use the left analogue stick to move and not the D-pad at all. The game relies heavily on wall jumping and bouncing off special springs on the side of platforms. I knew what to do but the controls just didn’t feel responsive. Often my squirrel friend would just wall jump if he felt like, it intentionally causing annoyance. I felt I had to jam the control stick and press the button in the exact spot to connect. There were so many times where I fell to my death despite knowing what to do. Thank goodness this game has checkpoints. After testing the game in both TV and handled mode I really didn’t notice any difference in performance. I thought playing with a pro controller may make the platforming more manageable compared to the joy-cons but this wasn’t the case.
After several levels, you come up against a boss. Here you have to bounce on the head of the baddie multiple times until they are defeated. These sections were a lot easier than the platforming sections and just felt tacked on instead of adding much to the experience. I guess it was pretty cool to see an evil platypus as a boss but once again these moments really lack any life or excitement to them. In fact, these scenes presented with audio issues where the sound just cut out entirely taking me further out of this mediocre game experience.
The game has a 2.5 graphical style, where it plays out of a 2D plane but the graphics look 3D. The world feels very plain and lacking in spirit. The game feels like something made with a level editor in a different game. There is a nice score that plays in the background as you’re jumping around, one of the few positives I could find in this experience. I think I enjoyed standing still listening to this rather than actually playing.
While this review comes across as overly negative I don’t think DOTORI is inherently bad. It does however lack polish on almost every aspect and just comes across as another run of the mill platformer with nothing new to say. This is quite a shame as with some extras this could have been something much more.
Not the Best Nut
While it’s graphics are cute DOTORI ended up being severely disappointing. The controls are slow and clunky and the game feels mediocre overall. Maybe with some patching, it could become more appealing. But in its current state, I would say this is one for the dedicated platform fan only, who has exhausted all other options on Switch.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure