The Tale of Doris and the Dragon is a love letter to classic point-and-click games
The elderly don’t tend to be protagonists in video games. Bar the excellent short from Belgian studio Tale of Tales – The Graveyard – games tend to eschew characters of a certain age in favour of more physically active counterparts. So it’s refreshing to come across a game where you play an old lady with a shopping trolley.
The Tale of Doris and the Dragon is a point-and-click adventure in the mold of classics such as The Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. In it, you play the recently deceased Doris, who finds herself in purgatory and separated from her husband, Albert. Cue a series of object-based puzzles and branching conversations with denizens of the underworld – including the titular dragon, inexplicably Scouse.
Between remastered editions of LucasArts classics and new story-heavy games from developers such as Telltale, adventure games have undergone a revival over the past few years. How does The Tale of Doris and the Dragon fit into this rejuvenated scene?
“The things Telltale are doing is great the moment,” says the game’s creator, Ben Simpson. “It’s not exactly the type of thing we’d want to do. We’re looking to provide more hindrance in the path of the player. A lot of modern point-and-click adventures seem to be very easy, [with the emphasis on] travelling from A to B, they just want to tell a story. We’re trying to have a bit of an experiment with the level of difficulty.”
As Simpson says, Doris goes further than its pixel-art visuals in echoing older point-and-click titles – and that includes obtuse puzzles that will see you combining every item in your inventory in the off chance it’ll do something. Depending on your outlook, this is either a much-needed injection of difficulty into a genre that’s placed less and less focus on puzzle solving, or an exasperating throwback that’s more time-consuming than mentally stimulating – an anachronism in the modern day, where a walkthrough is just a Google search away.
Regardless of your feelings towards object puzzles, Doris is worth spending some time with. The voice acting is over the top and quite a few of the jokes fail to land, but there’s much to enjoy here: notably the lingering score and the sweet oddness of the game’s conceit – finding yourself dead, clinging to a shopping trolley and searching for a loved one.
“I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett and a big fan of the old
“I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett and a big fan of the oldDiscworld games, so that was the feel I was going for with the humour,” Simpson says. “But I don’t think many games have taken on the British comedy mantel and have done it justice. I’m really looking forward to see what we can produce.”