Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre(s): Platformer, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on PlayStation and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 17.09.2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Despite having now played playing countless platforming gauntlets for the site, each one leaves a lasting impact on me. Dojoran was certainly no exception here. Does the low price point mean the game is of low quality? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Hop right into it
Immediately upon beginning Dojoran, I was treated to a brief cutscene that showed the premise of the title. I played as a frog on a quest to prove himself to his ancestors by completing an obstacle course. The simple story does not add much to the title, but it explains why a frog is navigating such treacherous obstacles. It was a cute premise, and it was a novel concept, but it did not largely impact my experience with the game. I was not expecting a grandiose story and I did not receive one. The story supplements the gameplay, and fulfils its purpose, but did not leave a lasting impact on me.
Simple but deep
The game begins getting interesting when considering the gameplay. I traversed twenty-eight challenging levels. On the surface, twenty-eight might seem like a small number of levels, almost as though the game could be completed in a couple of hours. I was pleasantly surprised by the depths of the levels though. Dojoran was not as simple as I initially thought.
The depth is brought out by the simplicity of the main character. Frogs are not known to have magical abilities, so the frog featured in Dojoran does not have any. Instead of combating new platforming gauntlets with new abilities such as those featured in Demons of Asteborg, I learned how to master each ability I had. Considering I was restricted to three different options, I needed to properly assess the situation and understand how each mechanic worked wholly.
The first of these abilities was moving. On the ground, the frog was nimble and responsive. Unlike some difficult platformers, the challenge in Dojoran was not in a sluggish character. Moving this frog felt natural from the moment the levels began.
The next ability is jumping. It is simple, almost every platformer involves jumping at one point. However, Dojoran pushed my abilities further by making sure I differentiated between the small jump and the large jump. Both are activated with the same input, but if I hold down the button for longer, the frog uses more force in its jump. This simple difference created a slew of tricky scenarios for me to encounter. At the same time, it is accessible, and death is easy to understand.
The final ability is the most unique one. Throughout the stages, the frog could encounter some apples. Instead of eating them, the frog stores them in his mouth to be used as a platform in the future. This is the most complex and interesting mechanic in Dojoran yet it is so simple in premise. It was further expanded because the frog received a slight height boost when expelling the apple from its mouth. This was my favourite mechanic because it was the most unique but never confused me too much. I needed to manage my apples as well, as they were sometimes hard to come by. Overall, the apple mechanic diversified the frog’s abilities without making them too confusing. It worked well.
Learning how to master each of the movement techniques was challenging, but it was always rewarding. Though they seem basic, the level design on offer in Dojoran enhanced them tenfold. The levels are tricky. I needed to retry the levels many times before making any real progress. Even though they were challenging, the level design made the levels rewarding. The levels featured precise jumps. They encourage both jump heights, require perfectly timed uses of apples, and accurate positioning. My innate ability to platform was challenged all throughout the game. I enjoyed how precise I needed to be, though the game never felt frustrating, as the hitboxes were fair, and it was obvious what needed to be done.
Though the levels were designed very nicely, often, there was a lot of waiting. I usually push through platforming games quickly, trying to get through obstacles on the first cycle possible. Dojoran forced me to wait for platforms, enemies, and obstacles to clear out of my way before I could continue. Obviously, sometimes it is important to break a player’s pace. Unfortunately, I found that it happened so frequently that it got frustrating. This likely occurred because I am used to completing games quickly and may not impact everyone in the same way.
Not only were there issues with pacing, but enemy interactions would only take place while you are on the screen. For example, one trap loads a dart and fires it when the frog is in range. When the trap is off-screen, it does not fire. This makes sense. However, where it gets tricky is when a partially charged trap exits the screen and reappears later. While the trap is offscreen, the timer initiating the firing does not reset. This made some of the interactions with traps seem inconsistent. It did not detract from the experience too much because this did not happen often. The traps largely work very well.
To supplement the base levels, there are two collectables to find in each level. One is a shield that can be used to protect the frog once in each level, and the other is a coin that can be hidden in each level. These objectives further incentivize mastery of the mechanics. They give additional reasons to revisit the levels too. Their inclusion wonderfully fulfilled the package.
Though there were some issues with pacing and traps firing asynchronously, the game featured some great levels. There is plenty of content here for the price as well. I was pleasantly surprised by how expansive the experience was. Dojoran features precise platforming that is still rewarding and accessible.
To supplement the experience, Dojoran features a lovely arcade soundtrack throughout the levels. I do not plan on listening to it in my free time, but it was a very nice addition. It worked well with the theme. The sound effects on the other hand stood out as spectacular. I am not sure exactly why, but I thought the sound effects were perfectly fitting. They made me want to continue attempting each level because each jump was made more rewarding. The sound design was good.
The visuals were also pleasant. The developers went for a black-and-white visual style. While it looks great, I did encounter some difficulties seeing a few of the traps. They occasionally blend in with the other tiles, thus making them less noticeable. Though that was the case, it did not largely impact my experience with the game. Most times I could clearly see everything I needed to, and the frog and enemies looked great.
Dojoran was a surprisingly enjoyable adventure. At such a low price point, I strongly encourage picking this one up. There are some noticeable flaws, and the colour palate does detract from the overall experience, but the core gameplay is very fluid and rewarding. I cannot wait to see the future projects from this team.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Dojoran from the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.