Released along side the 2019 movie, Ugly Dolls An Imperfect Adventure is another cash-in licensed product made available for parents to buy for their young gamer. While the dolls are not exactly ugly, they are imperfect when compared to the neighbors of Perfection, a town composed of invading robots. Because no one likes invading robots, the ulgies are tasked with making their ugly streets safe again.
Gameplay is annoying, tedious, and repetitive. Once the player leaves the TMNT-like sewer headquarters, one of the two playable characters needs to find another Ugly Doll somewhere in the city. Don’t know the location of this doll? Use a navigation balloon. How do you use a balloon that makes the objective appear on the mini map? Mindlessly walk around the flat and non-interactive world to find chests that contain crafting items. Once enough items have been farmed, go to the menu screen and start crafting. After making contact with the Doll, go on another mindless fetch quest to retrieve more pointless items. Repeat for a half dozen hours until the credits roll.
The last few levels are especially tedious as they do nothing more than artificially extend gameplay time by having players farm the hardest to find ingredients. Making matters worse, using items has to be one of the most mind-numbing systems in gaming as the player has to scrolling through every item using the shoulder buttons. And when I say you have to scroll through every item, I mean exactly that. In comparison, say you are playing any Final Fantasy game and you want to use a tonic to restore 50hp. You might have 78 tonics in your inventory. Instead of the tonics taking up one slot in your inventory, imagine if all 78 were listed individually. This is exactly what happens in Ugly Dolls except the player has to scroll through them one at a time using the right and left shoulder buttons. Once the inventory has been beefed up, it takes forever and day to scroll to the item you specifically need.
As the Dolls explore the static town, robots will inevitably give chase. If enough damage has been sustained, the player will simply teleport back to the starting point so there really is no penalty or a way to lose. There are no boss battles and each robot has a specific field of vision sort of like an earlier Metal Gear game but way worse. If a robot starts hunting, the player can avoid a confrontation but just running away as they give up much too easily. The player can stun enemies, with the bubble gun for example, but each gun needs to be crafted, then selected using the horrible UI. It is easier to just run away than fumble with the limited offensive options.
I was able to complete Ugly Dolls in a handful of hours, getting most Achievements along the way. The only Achievement I didn’t get was the “complete the game as the other character” (another way gameplay time is artificially increased) and the “get all other Achievements” Achievement. While this should sit well for Achievement/Trophy hunters, the game is a total slog and a tedious time waster. In fact, in order to complete the final mission, the player has to collect 1000 buttons, these hovering icons that randomly appear through the environment and respawn in time. The jumping is also floaty and inaccurate, items make the game more annoying instead of making it more fun, the environment is drab with inactivity, and the comic book-style presentation screams low production values; it is disappointing than an animated movie has a game tie-in that features non-animated comic panels. It isn’t often that the gameplay matches its namesake so well – an imperfect adventure.
Also available on PS4, Switch, and PC.