Doodle God for iPhone Review: Deific Puzzle Fun
When I see a game with a name like “Doodle God,” I approach it with certain expectations. Clearly, the name is calculated to summon the names of two popular App titles, Doodle Jump and Pocket God. In the case of It’s not very doodle-filled, and I sense that the “doodle” part of the game was enacted for marketing purposes. The God part fits, though, and refers to your role as a Creator in the Biblical sense, combining the stuff of the universe into plants, animals, humans, and even ninjas. Despite the opportunistic nomenclature, Doodle God turns out to be a clever, if somewhat random, casual puzzle game.
Your task in Doodle God is to select any two elements (Fire, Earth, Air, and Water to start) and see if they will combine into a new element (and “element” here means “ingredient,” basically, since “elements” quickly include things like Moss and Tools). Once that new element is created, it’s available for you to combine with others, creating more and new elements. In the current game you can discover up to 140 such combinations.
There’s basically two ways to play Doodle God. One is to try and intuit the thinking of the designers when it comes to making combinations. This can be a challenge, as there doesn’t seem to be an overall design philosophy. Sometimes, the combinations make realistic sense—so, for example, Earth plus Fire makes Lava (which is basically heat-melted rock) or Grass plus Field equals Wheat (which is grass that actually is cultivated in fields). Other times, combinations are not realistic but metaphorical or symbolic—for example, Fire plus Water makes Alcohol (famously known as “fire water”). And then there are some combinations that don’t necessarily make a lot of sense, like Worm plus Swamp makes Snake (because snakes are sort of like worms, and can live in a swamp, I guess) or are a bit silly (Human plus Energy makes … Wizard?).
Because trying to intuit the will of the designers is tricky, many players will find themselves playing the other way: just opening up two Elements and playing the process of elimination game. There is no penalty for wrong-guessing in Doodle God, so there’s absolutely no reason not to try every combination. Sometimes, hitting upon a combination this way will actually spark an understanding, which will allow you to intuit a number of moves before you hit a dead end and have to start guessing again.
It’s this ebb and flow of thinking and luck that will either turn you on to Doodle God or frustrate you quickly. There’s some amusing things at the further end of these Element chains (like Human plus any potent potable makes Alcoholic), so it’s worth seeing through. In addition, they provide a hint system to help you along when you get stuck; the hit is usually good for a short burst of creative insight.
Depending upon how good you are, your time with Doodle God will probably be brief. I was able to hit 80 elements in a fairly short playing time, and I wqs still regularly getting matches. And once you finish Doodle God, there’s not much incentive to replay. For your .99 cents, you’re basically buying one play-through, plus the promise of more to come. This is labeled “Episodes 1-2”; the original game had 14 “Elements” and 115 possible objects, and the additional episode added a 15th element with 35 more objects to discover. This additive model will keep you coming back in short bursts, which isn’t a bad thing so long as the updates are free.
So for a couple of hours of casual puzzle amusement, Doodle God delivers. I’m not sure why they called it “Doodle God,” as the only doodles appear in the menu screen, but whatever. It’s a fun casual puzzler that, though it can be a bit random at times, should entertain you well enough.
Our Score: 4/5