Format: PC (tested)

Released: May 2018

Breakout clones are plenty to the dozen so you have to do something different to stand out. Doughlings Arcade initially feels like what Breakout and Puyo Puyo Pop may feel like if it had a baby – but there are a few tricks up its sleeve to entertain you.

Doughlings Arcade
Doughlings Arcade does the cute arcade look very well

The premise of bat and ball remains and you’ll be asked to hit your fellow Doughlings descending from above to turn them into different colours until they are cured of their illness and fly off the screen. Colour cycles are simple to understand and you can try to lob chunks of doughlings off the screen by severing them from the hanging grid above you. As each one is cured, they drop thumb ups which power up a special move. Some let you shoot guns, or have a magnet to line each shot and so on, depending on which character your powered up into at the time. It’s all quite standard fair but given a lovely sheen of cheeky gloss with the animated graphics.

doughlings02
The level editor and share system is a gem and the games key selling point

Across its 75 levels, you’ll find yourself completing the challenges quite easily, but the stretch goals are more difficult as you’ll often be catching stars to get those bonuses – but losing lives to do so. Petrified doughlings also cause havoc at first too. The stars you collect let you boost the stats of your special moves and also the length of time you can morph into other characters. It’s a nice side mission but not really required as the completion bar is very low to progress which is both a blessing and a curse. The game is really quite easy and most of the difficulty I found was down to the initial control scheme which doesn’t account for an analogue sticks deadzone. My character kept drifting off and I’d miss shots. Thankfully this was sorted in the sensitivity options but I found the game easier with arrows keys or a d-pad. Visually too – it’s difficult to fully grasp the ball rebound logic at times as your character is not bat shaped and I kept expecting a reaction based on the characters massive eyes – but it doesn’t.

Whilst there’s no two-player battle mode, which I felt really could have been a great selling point here (and the mechanics of the game lend perfectly for it), there is a fantastic and simple to understand level editor. You plot out your grid of doughlings to clear almost like a pixel art drawing and then choose the goals of the level before saving and sharing your levels with others. I’ve already seen some great layouts like magic carpet paintings and the duck which I show in the review video. This dramatically increases the game’s longevity even if the community will be small.

Positives

  • Excellent level editor and sharing ability
  • A nice new coat for fans of Breakout games
  • A great quality of life mechanic that means you don’t have to clear everything in a level before its over

Negatives

  • Lacks challenge and levels feel samey
  • Character shape and ball physics do not align how I expect sometimes

Conclusion

A great level editor raises a standard breakout clone into something more appetising and fans of the genre will enjoy this. It’s cute, but it’s lack of challenge later does hurt it a little.

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A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review.

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