Planet Domo brings a sense of charm and fun to the well-worn Facebook RPG
Often the brands that find traction on the Internet aren’t necessarily the biggest or most explicable. For instance, take Domo, a silent stop-motion animated character who serves as the mascot of the Japanese broadcast network NHK. You would expect that no one outside of Japan would care about such a character, but Domo is popular in the West and appears on t-shirts, plush toys, comic books, and other collectibles. Planet Domo is his charming and surprisingly fun entry into the world of Facebook games. This game does not appear to be localized, but instead created specifically for the Western market by noted developer TheBroth.
Part of what makes Domo so intriguing is how simple and unselfconscious he is as a character. Even though Planet Domo features cutscenes, the game’s plot is merely Domo’s worldwide search for an enormous strawberry cheesecake. You take Domo on a trip through the US and other lands, searching for clues to the cheesecake’s whereabouts while you gather up postcards, see the sights, and level up. You earn money by doing certain tourist activities, but others might require you to spend money to play team games against other players (basically, PvP combat a la Mafia Wars).
Each time you complete an activity in an area, you earn a puzzle piece. Once you complete all of the activities, you get a chance to assemble the puzzle pieces together and move on to the next area. You can go back and replay areas you’ve been to already, which is handy when you’re forced to grind for money. Some activities require you to spend consumable items in order to clear them. You can only get these items by begging for gifts from friends playing the game with you or spending some money. Planet Domo is a game that charges a high “no friends” tax and begins charging it very early.
That annoyance aside, Planet Domo is quite enjoyable despite being, at heart, a very basic text RPG. There’s a strong visual component to the game, so you get to watch Domo walk to new activities and get rewarded with funny postcards when you complete an activity. Each area’s map is fully-illustrated in a pleasing cartoon style. What would be battling against other players in any other game becomes playing harmless sports like dodgeball or egg-in-spoon races, which gives a friendly veneer to one of the basic activities of the old mafia RPGs.
Planet Domo seems targeted at a younger audience, perhaps the sort of person who’s playing TinierMe, but the straightforward gameplay should be easy for anyone to enjoy. Of course, text RPGs have been around Facebook for a long time and there’s no amount of cute art or gentle humor that can make the genre feel less familiar to someone who’s spent a lot of time with it. Any player already burned out on text RPGs probably doesn’t want to fool with Planet Domo. Fans of the character or folks who aren’t overly-familiar with text RPGs might want to give this one a look, though.