The mobile game used to something of a dirty word in years past, more synonymous with the colourful distractions of match four games and angry birds and its sea of derivatives than anything in key with the concerns of the industry at large. But such a dismissive rational is being consigned to the past, thanks to the Japanese industry and consumer base moving away from more traditional avenues of the console and PC and heading towards the social space of mobile gaming. A change for the better with new genres that fit with the touch screens of smart-phones and tablets rising to prominence, the new and self-effacingly titled studio, Arrogant Pixel have presented their case in the further advancement of the mobile game.
Doris and the Dragon is a trilogy of adventure games with the most unexpected of narratives. You play as Doris, an elderly lady who is transported to a mysterious realm of talking dragons, stone men (and women) and an array of other fantastical creations. Upon wandering a little and happening upon the titular dragon we learn that Doris is dead and she finds herself in Purgatory awaiting a decision on her fate, uninterested in that our protagonist is more curious in her also-deceased husband. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you add in small additives like her shopping trolley breaking purgatory’s rules by joining her, the Scouse accent of the dragon amidst many other details it becomes apparent that Doris and her Dragon shares a comedic DNA with Tim Schafer and the deadpan mundanity of the late Terry Pratchett’s fantastical imagination. Even without going further into the who’s or why’s of Arrogant Pixel’s title, that statement alone should tell you what sort of experience this is.
Graphically it shares its DNA with the lo-fidelity of Undertale in that it’s very simple and crude. Visually it consists of simple lines not too dissimilar from that of the early console, but this is a mobile game and on an even more basic level it fits with the intentions of the game. Purgatory is a realm of doubt that is neither here nor there, to subscribe with the Pratchett-isms, Purgatory is death’s waiting room. If the super fidelity of AAA gaming was within reach of this young company, the narrative, and textual background would be sabotaged losing a great deal of the magic in the process. A magic that subverts the heroism or intellectualism of the point and click lead. You are a character who doesn’t have great mobility and will flat out refuse your requests to go to a precarious location whatever the reason furthermore she will respond with a grandmotherly disappointment when characters present a bad attitude. This a refreshing and hilarious counter to the equally funny rock stars of the genre in Guybrush Threepwood and George Stobbart.
Available on steam which is a different build entirely, we played the Android version and responsiveness is relative to the handset that the game is played on, naturally, different models have different response speeds, therefore we can’t comment pertaining to the broader success of this port – however, the Samsung J5 we played it on gave us zero issues. Tapping on the screen or dialogue option was met with a near enough instant reaction. Less consistent where some of the options, clicking on the Load game option was a trial where one should never exist. The mobile device is a fantastic way to enjoy Doris and the Dragon. Enjoy is the right word too, barely minutes pass and the laughs are flowing and its genre soundly satirized. For a few pounds, you can enjoy this invigorating, unique and funny adventure that moves the mobile game forward via the medium of dragon admin assistants.