I don’t like dolls. They are creepy and I don’t want to be around them, so when clicking on Dolldo’s thumbnail, I was hesitant. Dolldo is about an unlucky peg doll who lives with his dad and has a creepy raccoon as an enemy. When I entered the game, the font was scratchy, an alarm clock started ringing, and I was tasked with selecting whether to wake up or to ignore the alarm. This alarming beginning made me think that the game was going to be as unsettling as I originally thought, but after completing the demo, my feelings of unease were gone, and feelings of kindness filled my mind.
Dolldo’s story is both sad and lighthearted. Dolldo’s father is a strict, and perhaps abusive, father who refuses to listen to his son. Dolldo himself is just a nice son who obeys his father, and that’s not the only thing he has to deal with. As mentioned explicitly in Dolldo’s description, Dolldo is unlucky, and that is very evident throughout the very short demo. Dolldo deals with his awful dad, and the raccoon that constantly tries to make his day worse.
Due to how short Dolldo is, I won’t go into specifics of how this raccoon affects Dolldo, because doing so would spoil the story. What I will say, however, is that the story is not in-depth or serious, but holds moments that are hilarious, emotional, and awkward.
The story is explored through choosing between multiple options that Dolldo can execute. After making your choice, the characters react in different ways. These choices seem to differ largely, leading to very different scenarios. One of the choices in the demo is waking up. This leads to the main gameplay of the game, where you control Dolldo as he completes task while his dad watches and laughs as he struggles.
This gameplay is quite fun. The way Dolldo and the raccoon moved made me laugh, and the destruction the raccoon causes made me laugh even more. The gameplay isn’t elaborate, you just wobble as Dolldo from point A to point B without being touched by the raccoon, and it doesn’t need to be any more than that. The simplicity of the gameplay matched what I was expecting perfectly, and adding more elaborate missions may hurt the overall simplistic and vulnerable position that Dolldo is in, because the focus on the story is that Dolldo is weak and scared.
Once you complete the mission, another unlucky event occurs, the credits appear. I was sad that I couldn’t play more of this, because in the roughly five minutes it took to finish the game, I learned to love Dolldo. It’s not the possibly disturbing game I thought it would be. There were some disturbing parts, such as the abusive actions of Dolldo’s father, the movement of the dolls can be eerie at first, and some of the comedy is hit-or-miss, depending on your views of slapstick comedy or comedy that may be somewhat awkward, but I loved it. All of the potentially disturbing parts of Dolldo are outweighed by the likability of Dolldo as a character and the ridiculous comedy that stops the game from being too dark.
Even though Dolldo is obviously not human, his sense of vulnerability and flaws make him relatable. His facial expressions while being terrified, his weak voice while talking to authority, all of it makes Dolldo seem very real even though the whole game itself is very outlandish with its comedy and physics. The sound design is another aspect that stops Dolldo from leaning too hard into ridiculousness.
The sound design is all very real. Everything from alarm clocks, to bathroom duties, to getting dressed, all have very familiar sounds that really relate to Dolldo in his daily routines. The music also helps you connect to Dolldo by being light, but still exciting enough to keep you focused on evading the raccoon. Every sound kept me focused on the game and really helped me connect with Dolldo, by realizing he was actually very human even though he was just a doll.
Dolldo freaked me out. Dolls have always been something I am not that fond of, and I thought Dolldo’s aesthetic was very weird. After playing through it multiple times, I have laughed through Dolldo’s pain, and connected to him as a character. The theme of not judging a book by its cover is one found in all forms of media, but Dolldo executed this implicitly, and calmed my emotions of discomfort by making me notice that this somewhat creepy doll was struggling and needed help. I highly recommend downloading Dolldo here and giving him the help he desperately needs.