Doug’s Nightmare

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Doug’s Nightmare (Nintendo Switch) – Review

Let’s go bananas in East Asiasoft Limited’s and Undev Games’ “Doug’s Nightmare”. I like bullet hell arena shooters and have played my fair share of good and bad ones, and typically, the genre features rouge-lite elements and very little story. “Doug’s Nightmare” peels back this typicality to offer a different approach, but unfortunately, it is way too green and unappealing to be consumed.

“Doug’s Nightmare” offers a little more to the story front than those with similar gameplay. You are Doug, a banana trying to get to sleep after what I can only assume was a harrowing day. When Doug closes his eyes, he is plagued by nightmares of creatures out to wake him from his slumber, while the dark banana of anxiety speaks condescendingly, bringing self-doubt and sadness to Doug.

Doug fights unceasingly against his nightmares, determined to make it until morning fully rested. That’s it, a story told. There are points in the game you can interact with that trigger dialogue, but I found it too vague to understand. Or I just didn’t get it. Either way, the story was not fully ripened.

“Doug’s Nightmare” is just like all the other bullet hell arena shooters with a top-down view utilising the twin-stick to move and aim. Clicking down the left stick will make Doug dash, giving him invincibility frames to dodge incoming projectiles, but honestly, after a while, I stopped bothering to dash unless I wanted to move somewhere faster. The received damage was negligible and the food drops replenishing health were very abundant.

A button interacts with interactable items, the X button opens your inventory, and the Y button toggles the map. Attacking is done with the ZR trigger, and the special attack is activated by the ZL trigger. There is an option to make the attack a toggle on and off which is great if you don’t want to hold down the ZR all the time. As for the special attack, it only performs two actions based on the weapon you are carrying. If it is a melee weapon, it swings around Doug a full 360 degrees, and if it’s a ranged weapon, the rate of fire increases for a second or two.

Once the special attack is used, a timer starts before it can be used again and it’s based on how anxious Doug is. Below the health bar is the anxiety bar which depletes slowly in combat but fills up when Doug kills a nightmare or collects a teddy bear. The fuller the bar, the faster Doug’s special attack will refresh, however, if the bar fully depletes then the black banana appears to battle Doug, and if you defeat the black banana, the anxiety bar fully refills.

Speaking of the health bar, when it is empty you get a game over screen, but you can just click continue and you will immediately restart from the last room you entered. This destroys any sort of risk of death, and normally in bullet hells, when you die you must start over from the beginning, but “Doug’s Nightmare” just lets you go back in with no consequences.

While battling the nightmares, Doug will sometimes be given a present when he is victorious. This can contain weapons, cosmetics, and buffs. The weapons do not perform any differently from one another, melee weapons go stab-stab, and ranged weapons go pew-pew, but you are forced to use the newly acquired weapons when you reach the next level as the health of the nightmares increases, making them rather spongey. The cosmetics are just that; cosmetics, and the buffs are only good for the level you are on as it will be cleared once you go to the next level.

When you do proceed to a new level, the environment will change along with the appearance of the enemies and bosses. What doesn’t change is the attack patterns. Once you have learnt the attack pattern of any nightmare, you will easily be able to predict its attacks and move out of the way. This makes “Doug’s Nightmare” unchallenging and only good as an entry point for the bullet hell genre.

The graphics are a beautiful cartoony hand-drawn art. It reminded me of what a child would do with a combination of charcoals and coloured pencils. It was expertly presented with a dinginess and brightness that complimented the tone of the game, and while the cutscenes between gameplay are done in the same style, they are presented in a comic book style.

The music captured the spookiness and creepiness of what you’d expect to hear in your nightmares, but unfortunately, the tracks were so short it took no time at all to grate on my nerves. Sound effects are very lacklustre and were stock standard to the actions being performed on the screen.

“Doug’s Nightmare” is a very short game that I finished in under four hours. Aside from the graphics, nothing felt challenging or really changed from level to level, leaving the game as a one-and-done scenario. If you want a dip your pinkie toe into the genre of bullet hell shooters, then “Doug’s Nightmare” will be a good entry point for you. If you are a seasoned bullet hell gamer, like me, then best to avoid this one like a banana peel on a linoleum floor.

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The Good

  • Entry point for this genre
  • Beautiful hand-drawn graphics

The Bad

  • Unchallenging
  • One-and-done game
  • Extremely repetitive music
  • Under four hours to complete

Written by: Ashley Barnett-Cosgrove


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