Game Info:

Doodle God
Developed by: JoyBits, LTD.
Published by: JoyBits, LTD.
Released: June 27, 2010, September 24, 2015 on Steam
Available on:  Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Facebook, Blackberry, PS Vita, Steam and more.
Genre: Puzzle, casual
Number of players: 1
Price: $5.99 (Steam, PS Vita), $0.99 (Apple Store, Amazon, Google Play), free (Facebook)
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you, JoyBits, LTD, for sending us a copy of this game to review!

Have you ever wanted to play God? Basically, to have the power to create whatever you wanted, or shape the world how you wished, or controlled events to how you would see fit?

If you've ever felt that way, then perhaps you should be playing Minecraft. Or with Legos. Or write a book. Because if you're looking for an experience like that, you won't find it with the deceptively-named Doodle God. Because, in addition to not having the powers of God, you won't do any drawing or doodling in the game, either.

The gameplay consists mainly of matching different elements to make other elements. You start with a blank planet and the traditional four elements – earth, fire, water and air. By combining two elements you'll create new ones – for example, combining earth and fire creates lava. These other elements can be combined to create new ones, and so forth. Each successful combination causes a portion of your world to receive new features, such as deserts or volcanoes. If you're having trouble finding a match, you can use "karma points" to purchase hints. These points can be obtained through various quests or accomplishing different goals.

Doodle God

Strong Points: Casual matching game; some clever puzzles; nice graphics; Facebook-like game without the hassles of Facebook
Weak Points: Some matches are counter-intuitive; graphics are static
Moral Warnings: Tobacco, alcohol and occult references; nudity present even with "child-safe" mode turned on

If you're getting the impression that this sounds like a casual Facebook game, you're not too far off the mark. The matching element did remind me a lot of other Facebook games, such as Dragon City, only you don't have to wait for several hours to see the results of your match. It also includes daily rewards – such as additional karma points – and links to other games made by JoyBits, LTD. The only thing missing would be in-game microtransactions and the ability to nag your friends to send you free gifts. Actually... those might be present in other platforms this game appears in, such as Facebook. They did not appear in the Mac version, at least.

In addition to the main game, where you shape the planet based upon your discoveries, there are a few story modes and other challenges which can be played. However, the gameplay is pretty much the same – you have to match different "elements" in order to discover new ones, and there is one final "game-winning" element that will end the challenge. For example, in the quest to save the princess, you'll have to discover different party members, discover an adventuring party (done simply enough by combining adventurers), discover the quest, discover the dragon's lair, discover the dragon, discover a way to create "dead dragon," and so forth. Playing these alternative games doesn't have an effect on the main game, other than possibly generating more karma points for you. 

Some of the combinations make sense, but others could only be discovered through repeated trial and error, or looking at a walkthrough. One example came up while playing the "Sin vs. Virtue" game. Thanks to a hint, I discovered that one of the elements I could create was "altruism." So what would I need to combine for that? "Love" and "generosity?" No, that wasn't it. Maybe "cheerfulness" and "charity?" That wasn't it, either. No, the correct answer was... "cell phone" and "free apps." Someone has a high opinion of their software.... But unfortunately, it's just one example of how counter-intuitive some of the "correct" answers are (such as bacteria + swamp = sulfur).

The game can't really be seen as a way to demonstrate evolution or creationism. I was able to discover "bird" and "tree" before I discovered "bacteria," for instance. And at the time of this writing, I've been able to discover "humans" and "wizard," but no animals larger than a lizard. So the discovery process doesn't exactly follow the linear progression of our world, no matter which way you lean in regards to the development of our planet. 

Doodle God
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 68%
Gameplay - 11/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 62%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 1/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

It is possible to discover things that could be morally questionable. "Sex" is something you can discover, and depict a crude representation of two people in an act of copulation. As a tie in to the "Devil vs. God" minigame, the Seven Deadly Sins also makes an appearance, and "Lust" is shown as a naked woman as seen from the side. There is a "child-safe" mode that can be turned on which disables these elements from being seen (as well as any of the alcohol elements), but the naked woman can still be seen in the graphic depicting the deadly sins, even in the encyclopedia. It's odd that such an obvious depiction could escape the censors – maybe they just didn't care. Since we're discussing the moral aspects of the game, the whole idea of the player being God, and the goofy depiction of Him (sometimes with his tongue sticking out) may also be considered blasphemous. There also is some scary imagery of demons and other monsters – and yes, you can create some of these. The game also includes various references to tobacco and alcohol, unless the "child-safe" mode is turned on.

Tinkering with the child-safe mode can cause some odd behavior as well. For example, one "quest" I received – basically, bonus karma if you discover a particular element – was to discover "alcoholics." At this point, though, I hadn't discovered alcohol. So I turned on child-safe mode and tried to do that. Sure enough, the elements wouldn't combine to create alcohol... yet I still had the quest to discover "alcoholics" on my screen. Only by turning off child-safe mode was I able to finish that objective. 

The graphics aren't too bad, if a bit static. The different icons twitch or swirl around based upon your guesses, and the world looks colorful and nicely detailed. The sound effects and background music are nice, but not too memorable. There is a narrator who reads the pages to the different stories in a British accent. The same narrator compliments you on successful combinations, but derides you or suggests you use up hints if you guess incorrectly too many times.

The game can be mildly entertaining in short durations, but can be frustrating at times. The hint system makes it easier, but you get achievements for completing some of the challenges without using the hints. Speaking of achievements, the recently-released Steam version includes these, along with trading cards, leaderboards and multiplayer tournaments. For those that are looking for a casual matching game but don't want to be bothered by Facebook apps, this could be a good alternative. For those looking for a more entertaining, child-friendly puzzle game, may want to look elsewhere.

About the Author

J. Todd Cumming

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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