Escape Doodland has a tutorial level available for selection to explain the game's mechanics. The tutorial level explains the controller set up and the function each button performs once either held or tapped, the in-game currency and the purpose of matches within the game. Furthermore, each time there is an explanation on the function of a button you are given some time to familiarize yourself with the buttons and their functions.
However, this level fails to explain other fundamentals of the game, such as; the flying and swimming mechanics.
Particular levels and sections within levels involve you either flying through the air with a somewhat spectral aesthetic or swimming through water. When you encounter this change in gameplay there is no explanation given on whether or not mechanics remain the same or change. The lack of explanation levels you feeling confused and it leads to you dying unnecessarily.
Matches, Beans and Shopping
Escape Doodland is a unique runner and platformer. This is evident with numerous of the game mechanics, such as the matches, beans, and shop.
Firstly, matches in Escape Doodland allow you to perform certain special moves (fart dash and fart jump) and these moves help ensure you evade danger and complete levels. In addition, matches appear randomly throughout each level, meaning you will have countless opportunities to stock up on them. Secondly, beans in Escape Doodland is the in-game currency. Beans come in two variations, green and gold, both function as in-game currency but differ. Green beans – about twelve per level – reward you with gold beans – three on hard and an additional fourth gold bean on harder – dependant on how much of them you collected upon completing the level. This collecting of green beans is essential as you receive gold beans as a reward and these beans unlock levels, which can only become available to you once you have the specified number of gold beans to play that level. In addition, gold beans mark how much of the game you have completed. Finally, the shop in Escape Doodland.The shop has plenty on offer with new characters, power-ups and a few other items including extra yellow beans.
Personally, unlocking every character is not an achievement unless you look at it from an aesthetical point of view. Each character plays the same yet their appearance gives the illusion of a variation in gameplay. Though I do recommend you buy gold beans from the shop, as certain levels are more challenging than others.
Escape Doodland has a total of ten levels or eleven if you include the tutorial level. Each level, except the tutorial level, has two difficulty choices; hard and harder. However, the choice of harder is not available upon playing a level for the first time, though after you complete a level on the default Hard option it becomes available for selection.
The Hard option made available before starting a level is essentially the game's normal. In addition, this mode has checkpoints usually found after completing about 20% increments of a given level. Checkpoints do not make you invulnerable, though you may have three hearts – four or more with a power-up – you lose one heart upon dying but only after reaching a checkpoint. Simply, upon reaching the first checkpoint your hearts (lives) can be lost with each death you experience after dying enough times you begin the level from the very beginning. However, if you die once or twice and reach each new checkpoint you gain a heart you lost.
Escape Doodland is a challenging game. So much so that it is a challenge to beat the first level without dying multiple times for many players.
The option of Harder has no checkpoints. Yes, you need to progress through an entire level without dying once. Although this may appear an impossible task it is possible to beat levels on this mode and get an extra yellow bean, which helps unlock later levels and gives you a bit of extra in-game currency for items in the shop.
Graphics and audio
Escape Doodland is undeniably a graphical gem. The unique doodle aesthetic of the game immediately captures you. Furthermore, the visuals are stunning and it continuously amazes though one tends to overlook this when focusing on staying alive long enough to complete a level. In addition, the game's unique aesthetic qualities with its odd white gridded skies hearkened back to numerous old retro games.
The game's graphics are positively modern. Although one has to admit it does play out similar to a psychedelic comic book. In addition, there are tons of details to glean at in each level; NPCs running around interacting with each other, well fleshed out level themes and more. These aspects make each level feel alive and creates an immersive experience for each of the intended environments of each level. The animations are great as well. Particular levels will feature their own unique hazards and obstacles, for example, level seven features Doodler-eating fish that open their mouths to an enormous size and swallow you whole. These fish add insult to injury by smugly smiling at the fact that they have eaten you.
In short, the visuals of Escape Doodland are nothing short of stunning and captivating and mark some of the finer 2D graphics seen on Steam.
The music in Escape Doodland is surprisingly good. Unlike other runners and platformers which simply use the same old sounds and remix them to add some "freshness". Escape Doodland uses new sounds for each level to give them a distinctive quality and let each one stand out from the next. Furthermore, the music felt reminiscent of the sounds of psychotic ragtime parties in the 1920s. In addition, the soundtrack is quite diverse. The odd instrumentation and how it effortlessly complimented the environments of the game gave that something extra. Escape Doodland never takes itself too seriously and works in its favor.
Escape Doodland is quite an enjoyable running platformer. It is also challenging, however, this will not be an attractive aspect for many who do not enjoy semi-hardcore platformers. The game's length – ten levels – felt a bit rushed but the distinctiveness of each level whether it be design, music or obstacles and hazards still made it a wonderful gaming experience despite this. However, the game fell short when it comes to explaining its game mechanic in its entirety, lacking an overall story and having a somewhat underwhelming shop.
In conclusion, Escape Doodland is a unique platformer and a beautiful 2D indie game. In addition, its undoubtedly a surprise gem, and the developer's polish and commitment to making it a fun yet relentless adventure shines throughout the game. The only negatives that draw away from it are; the length, lack of story, slight ineffectiveness in explaining game mechanics and the underwhelming shop.
|+ Great level design||– Gameplay length felt short|
|+ Controls are perfect||– Difficulty could turn some off|
|+ Lighthearted and charming||– Shop was underwhelming|
|+ Wonderful aesthetics||– Tutorial left out certain mechanics|
|+ Unique gameplay mechanics|