STAFF REVIEW of Doughlings: Invasion (Xbox One)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019.
by Kirsten Naughton

Doughlings: Invasion Box art Well, well, well... developers Hero Concept finally made a Sequel to Doughlings: Arcade. I vividly remember last August when I reviewed Doughlings: Arcade and remember enjoying its gameplay quite a lot, to the point where I spent quite a few hours even after the review was submitted playing it. When I saw Doughlings: Invasion was released, I was obviously interested, as I enjoy playing sequels to titles I have previously reviewed. My expectations were high for Doughlings: Invasion, as Arcade was a game I thoroughly enjoyed. But, here's the real question: Did I enjoy Doughlings: Invasion as much as its prequel? Let me explain.

Doughlings: Invasion is an arcade shooter based in the same world as Doughlings: Arcade, and the main story this time around isn't much different than Arcade. The only slight change is that there's now there's a weapon of mass destruction that has hit the town where the Doughlings live. Now, it's up to Doctor Morpheus once again to save his people from the invasion of... Aliens?!

As you start your adventure after the beginning cutscene, you are brought to a pop up menu with a bunch of characters perhaps? I'm not 100% sure because there's no explanation or sort of tutorial to guide you into the gameplay. I found that a little upsetting considering Doughlings: Arcade had a pretty decent tutorial. The most information you get is about the 'core mechanics', which are if I understand correctly, the actions you need to make in the level and how to shoot your Color Gun, which seems to take out a bunch of aliens at once.

When Level 1 begins, a bunch of 'Aliens' enter the screen and it's your job to shoot them, along with the 'Queen Alien'. You need to collect likes to be able to 'Show Off' your Color Gun, and avoid being shot by little green pellets from the enemy aliens. If you make it through the opening level, a screen pops up indicating your score. You control your character by using the joysticks and the X and Y buttons; that's it. You get a score, and I quote: “Queen Couldn't Even Come” if you were to beat the level before all the Queens get deployed.

There's an upgrade aspect to Doughlings: Invasion that I was really excited for at the beginning, which basically enables you to upgrade your weapons. But, if you were to die... you will lose all your upgrades and you start all over. When I mean “start all over”, I mean you hit 'new game' and begin from scratch. I'm all about leveling up and progressing, yet there was no real progression happening during my time with Doughlings: Invasion due to losing.

Hero Concept changed the gameplay completely when they made this sequel though. Instead of a bubble shooter that you can go through levels and kill the infected doughlings, we now have enemy aliens who are invading, and the original gameplay is not even a thought. I would have been more than willing to accept that Doughlings: Invasion had brand new gameplay if it was made more clearly in the beginning. The main story cutscene makes you think it's the same game, simply with an added story. It instead feels like a horde of aliens are coming for me in waves of levels, which isn't really what I had in mind for a Doughlings game and certainly not the type of game that I would play for hours and hours on end. The only game I can even try to compare this to is Space Invaders, which I remember playing when I was really young with my uncle. Those were good times!

Hero Concepts recently updated Doughlings: Invasion which had me a little excited, that perhaps some of my issues would be addressed. The update did in fact deal with some of my irks, such as the difficulty being reduced and checkpoints before bosses being added. Unfortunately, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I initially expected. Those of you that like arcade shooters may love it like any other in the genre.

While the gameplay is a bit of a letdown, I did enjoy the music. The audio stayed true to the previous game and I really enjoyed it just as much as I did in Arcade. It keeps you engaged, even if you're like me who just wasn't feeling the gameplay. I was incredibly happy that Doughlings didn't lose its colourful charm that it previously created though, as everything was so bright and happy. The narrator was also the same guy that did the narration last time and I still enjoyed his performance throughout.

I don't feel like Doughlings: Invasion was a great sequel for me personally. I find that the change in gameplay was hard to grasp, and if you're going to completely change a sequel's gameplay around, you need to communicate it very clearly so that the player does not feel like they are being thrown in the deep end of the ocean without a life jacket. There was little to no support for the gamer in the beginning of Doughlings: Invasion, with a lack of a helpful tutorial for me to be successful in the waves of aliens that are coming after me.

I'm deeply saddened that I didn't enjoy Doughlings: Invasion nearly as much as its prequel, but it just may be a game that you would want to play. It's a good game, it simply wasn't vibing with me for various reasons. Hero Concept is a fantastic developer that creates quality games, and if you want to give Doughlings: Invasion a go, I would recommend you go ahead and try it out.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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