Developer: Hero Concept
Publisher: Hero Concept
Release Date: 13 September 2018
Price: $6.99 / £6.29
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Doughlings: Arcade, from developer Hero Concept, is a clever take on the brick-breaking formula. This is definitely a title for a certain niche of gamers, but it’s hard not to like what Doughlings is trying to bring to the table. It’s certainly not the type of game you’ll be thinking about everyday, but even so, it’s also one you can continually come back to and know you’ll have a good time.
The story revolves around these intelligent beings known as Doughlings, a happy bunch that always have smiles on their faces. However, a meteor struck their planet that brought out a certain type of poisonous gas, turning all the Doughlings into ravenous creatures hell-bent on eating anything in their way. Thankfully, a chap by the name of Doctor Morpheus had the great plan of feeding these Doughlings a special type of treat in order to heal them and save the planet.
Doughlings may not feature a compelling narrative, but there’s no denying the fun to be had in the gameplay. The goal, much like any other brick-breaker, is to launch your medicine infused ball from the bottom of the screen to the top, trying to hit as many infected Doughlings as possible.
You first start out with Doctor Morpheus as the only playable character, but others are soon unlocked, offering new abilities with distinct presentations. You slide your character right and left to deflect the ball back to the top of the screen where all the Doughlings are, creating a ping-pong gameplay loop that ends once you lose all your lives or save all the Doughlings above. As you progress, this turns from a simple brick-breaking puzzler to a high score chasing and superpower collecting affair.
Do Not Fear, Doctor Morpheus is Here!
Each Doughling has a certain level of evilness to cure and this is done by hitting them with the medicine ball. Depending on the colour, these Doughlings may need to be hit multiple times in order to progress. They go from red to yellow, to green, and then blue. Once they’re hit while blue, they will float off to enjoy life once again.
Removing Doughlings there will occasionally cause collectibles to drop, allowing you to transform your Doughling into his super-powered form and utilize helpful abilities. Doctor Morpheus for example, can initiate a colour-ball, turning huge layers of of troubled Doughlings into the same color. It’s fun to experiment with the different abilities the characters can perform finding ones that work best for you.
Before a match ends, a screen-long timer will gradually count up. Once this reaches its max, more Doughlings will appear on-screen, forcing players to clear the screen as quickly as possible before being flooded out. As you progress further, different forms of Doughlings will start being thrown at you. This includes sick Doughlings that will drip germs towards you, killer Doughlings that will turn standard ones into stone, and many more.
There are also DNA strands that will fall from the sky, and by collecting these you can change Morpheus into six super beings. For example, Smash is a larger version of Morpheus that can cover more ground, while Bedrock will bring a bigger ball into play. Each of these morphs can further be upgraded and help with getting past some of the tough later stages.
Each stage also has three stars you collect while healing the citizens, but it’s not always possible to catch them all without losing a life in the process - injecting a compelling risk-vs-reward mechanic. The same can be said about the score-card, which is increased through succession, but can be decreased if you take any damage from falling projectiles.
The combination of all these aspects makes for great variety in the gameplay. It does a great job of slowly introducing new gameplay mechanics and features, and with nearly 100 courses you won’t get bored too fast.
Overall, Doughlings: Arcade features loads of content and quality brick-breaking fun for anyone who is a fan of the genre. The graphics are colourful and vibrant from the get-go. It’s not overly-visually striking by any means, but the lovable design blends well with its concept. It may only appeal to a certain group of players, but if you’re craving a good brick breaking adventure, Doughlings: Arcade will definitely scratch that itch.
Pros & Cons
+ Fun brick-breaking gameplay
+ Plenty of content
+ Charming art design
- Not for everyone