Monday, 19 September 2016 00:00

The Tale of Doris and the Dragon Episode 1 Review

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The Tale of Doris and the Dragon – Episode 1, a game developed by Arrogant Pixel and originally posted on Newgrounds, is an episodic point-and-click adventure game featuring a sassy grandma and a frustrated dragon admin.

It begins with Doris falling into limbo after dying suddenly, an event she can't recall.

After exploring for a minute or two, Doris meets the Dragon. I expected the beast to be this big and scary companion that would fight and protect Doris throughout her journey to “the other side,” but instead Norb is an exhausted, frustrated, administrative assistant in the Underworld. After the 2 have a very funny exchange – Norb informs Doris that she’s deceased and then freaks out because she didn’t get the leaflet – Doris receives a walkie-talkie from Norb. Together they set off on a journey to get Doris to God - er, well, “management”.

I fell in love with The Tale of Doris the moment I started playing and was charmed from start to finish. It’s a very simple game, especially if you’re a master at puzzle games, but what it lacks in simplicity it makes up for with interesting and memorable characters.

Doris is a sassy, pun loving, no-nonsense granny while Norb is a kind, helpful, albeit easily irritated, customer-service oriented dragon. Along the way, Doris meets a demon who hates classical music, a married couple made out of stone, and a ferryman who got so bored that he took up gardening.

Unfortunately, the game is extremely short, which is a bit of a downer because I wanted to keep going, to find more about the story. It can very easily be completed in less than an hour though, even if you aren’t that skilled at puzzles. If every episode is going to be around the same length, my take is we'd all have been better off with a full release, rather than a drop by drop approach.

Only 2 puzzles are included in this episode: flower-collecting for the married stone couple in the first, and a musical dealing with the demon hateful of classical music in the second. Gathering flowers is fairly simple; the hardest was trying to figure out a way to collect a yellow flower hanging off of a cliff. The music puzzle, however, was hard and would stump anyone who doesn’t have half a decent musical ear. Without spoiling the story, Doris has to play Fur Elise on a ribcage. If you’ve never heard Fur Elise or simply forgot how it goes, there’s a music box to be found that will play you the melody.

If you’re never touched a piano or xylophone in your life, then good luck with that.

I tinkered with the ribcage for a good twenty to thirty minutes – which is the only reason my playthrough runs at 62 minutes – before giving up and looking for the solution online. It might have been an easier puzzle if there were clearer instructions or a hint. Other than that, it's all very well thought out and makes the player consider options toward solutions.

Another praise I have for the game is the lack of a crafting system, which at first was strange to me. Being able to craft 2 items into a more complex item is a staple of the point-and-click adventure. The fact that everything is so straightforward makes it simple and endearing.

The pixelated art and game design gives it a retro feel. It reminds me of the titles I used to play as a little kid and really enjoyed. The developers were able to create a fun and original title, that is truly a joy to play. It’s a very enthusiastic game. You can feel the passion that drove the artists toward its release, and it adds much to the experience. I look forward to further installments and hope to be able to review those as well!


The Verdict

Fans of the Undertale aesthetics would enjoy this charming point-and-click adventure. While it's on the short side, it’s totally worth it. When The Tale of Doris and the Dragon was on Newgrounds, it won “best point-and-click game of all time”, which hey, says something about the product as a whole. It’s charming and hilarious, so check it out!

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Susana Valdes

Susana came into the gaming world a bit late in her life, but it hasn't stopped her from completely immersing in it. A die hard fan of the Assassin's Creed series, she hopes to broaden her horizons and fall in love with different gaming genres. She enjoys otome games (Japanese dating sims directed towards girls) and visual novels; she constantly fights to have Japanese games localized in the US. When she isn't playing games, she's usually reading a book or working as a freelance writer. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she hates the nightlife as much as it hates her.