Escape Doodland (Switch) Review
Tons of personality in the visuals
Content to unlock with higher skill
Overly difficulty gameplay – some cheap and unfair jumps and hazards
Try, try, again gameplay
Instead of being funny, the farts are eye-rolling
QubicGames is making a name for themselves by releasing several mediocre runner games over the last couple years. For comparison, check out 2Fast4Gnomz, Geki Yaba Runner Deluxe, Jumping Joe and Friends, and even Bouncy Bob (SONKA). Escape Doodland is another runner game, this time originally developed and kickstarted by the small team at flukyMachine and ported by SONKA.
Available as a $10 Switch eShop download, the goal of Escape Doodland is simple – automatically run to the right and try not to get eaten by a huge screen-size monster that is constantly chasing you. Since your dood, an obscure goofy looking doodle character, is always running, it is up to the player to time jumps accordingly. The main gimmick is to use the d-pad directions to use farts as a weapon or boost. Pushing up will fart jump, pushing left will fart in the face of the big monster to stun it, or tapping right will cause a fart rocket to boost forward. The dood can also wall jump and double jump.
These special fart powers, however, cannot be used at will. Instead, the player can collect matches during a run in which they are used like currency for a fart, you know, because lighting farts on fire is funny. Each stage is designed to make you swear and retry until you get it right. This trial and error style of arcade gameplay isn’t for everyone as frustration can set in as early as the very first stage. There are also an assortment of beans (because they give you gas, get it?) to collect on each stage. The higher the bean count, the more stuff you can unlock on the main menu. Unlocking everything, let alone just finishing a stage, requires some serious dedication. There are a few power-ups to unlock which can help make stages a little easier but most are cosmetic changes that simply unlock new doods.
Besides being overly difficult, the stage design doesn’t play into the fart powers other than stunning the large monster. Boosting forward makes you miss pretty much every jump and the skyward high fart jump might save you from falling down a pit but can easily boost you over platforms if not careful. Each stage is designed to be completed without using the fart powers so they are just sort of there as a moot extra ability. While there are a few checkpoints in each stage, the player only has three lives and once depleted, it is back to the very beginning. A few levels also slightly change the mechanics such as the flying stage, which essentially turns the game into a variant of Flappy Bird, and underwater swimming segments in which the player has to manage verticality without having access to any fart powers.
The entire game looks like it was hand drawn on a sheet of notebook paper. Visually, everything has this grotesque presentation that reminds me of the grossest moments in Ren and Stimpy. It is not that the visuals are bad, they are just sort of nauseating because everything so demented and deformed with basic ballpoint pen to paper doodles. Negatively, there are times when the background actually interferes with interactive objects foreground. Since each stage features numerous background layers, it can be difficult to distinguish hazards from something that is just there visually. The soundtrack has a limited number of tracks and will make your rage grow faster with each death.
Escape Doodland is a challenging game often times due to cheap jumps and the need to retry over and over until you get it right. In fact, there are only two modes in the game: hard and harder. The more challenging option needs to be unlocked after the initial stages are completed. There is some replayability in trying to unlock more content but this requires making perfect runs, something that will take a ridiculously long time to master. Also, there is no multiplayer component and no online leaderboards. The visuals stand out but not necessarily for the right reasons but undoubtedly gives this title its personality. It is by no means the best runner out there but fans of punishing, grind-heavy gameplay might want to give this dood a shot.
Not Nearly As Good As: Rayman Legends
Also Try: a game with Prinny in it, Dood!
Better Than: Flappy Bird