Thursday, November 4, 2010

App O' The Mornin': Doug Brown Review

Grade: D
Price: $1

A good rule of thumb when creating a puzzle app is to avoid puzzles that make the user want to poke a hole through the screen in frustration and/or irritation. The creators of Doug  Brown: Truth Behind the Darkness forgot this rule, or maybe they just don't have thumbs.

The app store description of Doug Brown claims the game is a "thrilling ride through gritty detective fiction." Right: we all recall that part in Red Harvest where Dashiell Hammett offers a paragraph of mediocre and pointless prose before he has the Continental Op ... drive around and around in a circle using unresponsive controls, or jump over soot balls, or collect stars.

The "immersive, hard-boiled storyline" touted by the developers is borderline illiterate, with grammatical problems, clich├ęd writing, and tired and confusing plot. I've read better writing in Star Trek slash-fic.

The puzzles begin to repeat fairly quickly, and the variations don't make them more interesting, only more annoying. These are really one of the most banal selections of puzzles I've seen to date, with finicky controls and generally poor design.

The only good thing you can say about Doug Brown is that it has an appealing visual style, combining bold black lines with sepia tones. It's a pretty nice looking game in places, and butt-ugly in others.


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