Doug’s Nightmare – PS5 Review

Doug’s Nightmare is a twin-stick shooter/brawler from Brazilian-based coding crew Undev Games that combines some fairly standard combat and exploration with a curious plot.

The story here is that Doug, a banana, is having some trouble with his sleep.  He’s an anxious mess of a.. er… banana and his nightmares are being plagued by various monsters.  And so he decides enough is enough and that it’s time to fight back.  That’s where you come in, albeit after a quick tutorial that explains the basics.

The controls are simple but a little quirky.  You move Doug with the left stick/d-pad as you’d expect and you aim with the right stick.  is your attack button.  Now, we always prefer twin stick shooters to use ‘aim to fire’ rather than bring in another button for shooting and while this game doesn’t quite do that, it does give you a compromise.  There’s an option to allow auto-shooting.  When you pick that just toggles the shooting on and off.  It’s a bit clunky but it works well enough in practise.

In addition to that, gives you a handy dash, switches between two equipped weapons and is used to get into your inventory screen where you can equip different weapons and costume items.

The main gameplay loop is pretty simple.  Each of the game’s eight levels are split into a maze of rooms and there’s no indication of where to go and so you’ll just need to explore until you find the exit but each time you enter a room, enemies will keep materialising in there with you until you destroy them all.   When they’re all gone, the exits open and you can move on.

It’s worth exploring as this will lead to loot in the form of new weapons, which are broadly split between melee and ranged, and clothing items.  There are no stats though, so comparing things is tricky.  New guns don’t necessarily feel much better or worse than what you might already have equipped and the clothing items don’t indicate if they offer bonuses or protection.  Shoes definitely help as you can stand on toys in the first level and that’ll hurt you until you equip some footwear.  But beyond that it’s not very clear what the loot does, which is obviously not great.  That said, from a design point of view there’s some fun to be had dressing up Doug.

There’s a weird mechanic where if your anxiety bar drops to zero, a dark version of yourself will come and attack you.  It’s an interesting mechanic as the anxiety bar drops as more enemies show up but, firstly, shouldn’t it rise (it’s definitely unintuitive) and it doesn’t really matter as it’s one of the least threatening enemies in the game.  Odd.

Anyway, when you get to the end of a stage you’ll face off against a large boss.   These are generally bullet sponges that deal out significant damage and so you’ll have to be careful dodging their mild bullet hell attack patterns.  This is where you’ll struggle the most but the game does offer an easier difficulty if you get really stuck.  That said, progress isn’t too difficult otherwise as when you die you just go back to the last completed room.  This makes the game a bit easier but it does rather take away any sense of jeopardy, especially as the continues aren’t limited and so you’ll be happily brute forcing your way through the game.  And with no scoring mechanics in play, it’s not like there’s any incentive to 1CC the game.

In terms of the gameplay, that’s pretty much it.  The eight levels all play the same and just differentiated by different settings and music.  The art style is deliberately weird and the different settings, enemies and customisations are quite good fun.  Certainly, the picture below shows you what the game is capable of (playing a banana that looks like Jerry Sadowitz in a satanic sewer has to be someone’s idea of a good time).   It can all look a bit flat though and visual clarity isn’t always great but it’s all okay.  The music is alright with some suitably dreamy weirdness to it too but it is spoiled by the music looping too quickly, turning interesting tunes into irritations before long.

And that’s it really.  You’ll be done with Doug’s Nightmare within three or four hours of play and there’s no real reason to come back to it.  The setting and story maybe make it seem more interesting than it is because when you strip that away the gameplay is clunky, repetitive and not all that compelling.  It’s playable enough though and trophy whores are well-catered for with the PS4 version having its own trophy set (and it’s all bundled in as this is an eastasiasoft joint).

So if you want to be reasonably distracted for four hours (we’ll stop short of saying entertained), Doug’s Nightmare will do a quick job.  But if you’re looking for smooth gameplay, dynamic action, meaningful upgrades and any real addictiveness, you’ll need to look elsewhere.  Still, it’s almost worth it to see a banana with a blond wig shooting at evil broccoli.

Doug's Nightmare
5 Overall
+ Interesting story concept
+ Boss battles can be a good challenge
- Doesn't excel in any area
- Presentation is odd but cheap
- Upgrades don't feel all that beneficial
Doug's Nightmare uses up most of its good ideas and intentions on a weird story about a sleep-deprived banana and while there's some fun to be had from the game's weird and wacky world, as a twin-stick shooter the game feels quite pedestrian and a little dull.

About Richie

Rich is the editor of PlayStation Country. He likes his games lemony and low-budget with a lot of charm. This isn't his photo. That'll be Rik Mayall.

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