Doki Doki Dollmaker is an upcoming slice-of-life comedy boys love game developed by Karitsa, with art by Deji (who I LOVE). In the game you play as a Lyle, a young man still coming to terms with the loss of his parents. To help cope with his grief, Lyle makes five dolls who through a little magic, suddenly come to life—so it’s basically a BL version of Nameless the one name you must recall.
A Kickstarter campaign for the game was launched a short while ago and to go along with that a short demo was released! This is going to be a commercial release and the final version of the game will be $20. I was curious about the concept and I gave the demo a go and it’s super cute! So here are my thoughts on the demo!!
Nothing lasts forever – at least, that’s what young Lyle has come to believe. Forced to move away from home with his older brother, Lyle finds himself in a new town, far away from a painful past and heading toward a lonely future. When he finds comfort in making dolls using a mysterious sewing kit, he soon discovers that his life will be anything but lonely! Be immersed in this heartfelt tale of love and discover what it means to find yourself, no matter who, or what, is willing to lend a hand!
Lyle (the player-character) must move away with his older brother Cole after the sudden and unfortunate passing of their parents. To occupy his mind during the long road trip to their new home, Lyle makes five plush dolls using some leftover materials found in an old sewing kit. Due to the magical properties of the sewing kit and Lyle’s cry for help (brought about by loss, unfamiliarity, and bullying at school), the dolls come to life!
Torin: Torin is the first doll Lyle made and he’s a bit temperamental. He can be a bit rough around the edges and he’s prone to mood swings, but it seems that his gruff exterior is a front to hide a secret soft side. While he looks intimidating, when it counts he is willing to stand up for those in need.
Desifer: Desifer, is the second doll and he is convinced that he is God’s greatest gift to mankind. Confident in his looks and just a smidge vain, Desifer isn’t afraid to show a little skin when the spirit moves him. He is open with his affection and isn’t above showing Lyle a bit of love.
Rook: Rook is the keet of the group. Energetic, affectionate, and just an all around ray of sunshine, he’s just an all around cutie pie. He is clumsy and a bit of a crybaby. All he has to do is shed a few tears and everyone is putty in his hands. Rook has pretty much weaponized cuteness.
Ellery: If Rook is the little brother of the group, Ellery is the big bro. He is the most mature doll and he is often the person that keeps the peace when the others get a bit rowdy. A natural caregiver, Ellery is always there to listen to your problems and if that fails, he’ll cook up a delicious meal to cheer you up.
Kahvel: Is the fifth doll and a bit of a nerd. When he doesn’t have his nose buried in a book, Kahvel can be found tinkering around with things to see what makes them tick. He can be a bit quirky and just a teeny bit dramatic, but when you need someone to help you figure a way out of a bind, he’s your man! Also, he has heterochromia—one eye is blue while the other is purple.
Lyle: Lyle is our cute protagonist and an amateur doll maker. A chronic over thinker, he crafts as a means to take his mind off of all of the changes happening in his life. He’s quiet and insecure, but a genuinely nice guy who just wants to make friends and live a happy life. He has been having a hard time adapting to the loss of his parents and he and his much more serious older brother Cole don’t always see eye to eye.
So, the demo is short, only covering a bit of the prologue and the introductions of some of the main characters. Lyle and his older brother Cole have to move to a new town after the death of their parents and we get to see a bit of their dynamic in the car ride to their new place. Cole is a bit of a stickler and while they are brothers their relationship is strained and now they’re in this situation where they’ll have to rely on one another more than ever. Most romance games just focus on the relationships between the main character and the love interests, so it’ll be nice to see the story explore the familial bond between Cole and Lyle. Also, big bro Cole is super cute—I love me a clean cut man.
Lyle on the other hand is a sweet well meaning kid who is being forced to cope with a lot of big changes in his life within a very short period time. His parents passed, he’s moving to a new place, with a new school, and he has to figure out how to make new friends. He’s in a very vulnerable place when the story starts and it makes sense that he would need a way to cope with everything going on, so I think it’s really cute that he does that by making dolls. As someone that makes dolls too, I will admit that I find crocheting pretty therapeutic—there’s just something really soothing about starting a project and seeing it through to the end. There’s so much love and hard work that goes into doll making and even though they’re just dolls you get really attached—you give them names and personalities—and you really get that with Lyle and his dolls.
The dolls are cute, but definitely look more like anime characters than actual people—what with their wild outfits and hair colors—but it’s fun. In the demo we only get to spend a brief amount of time with each of them when they rescue Lyle from a group of bullies. I would have liked to have spent a bit more time getting to know them, but I get it this demo is more of an alpha demo, but you do get to see them interact with one another and Lyle. Out of all the dolls, I like Ellery and Torin best, but each doll has their own distinct personalities, so there well definitely be a doll that’ll appeal to most people’s tastes. Lyle is going to have to help the dolls get used to living as normal people and I’m curious to see how such… “unique’ looking characters are going to blend in with everyone else. I mean, Desifer walks around shirtless—not exactly subtle.
I’m probably not the first person to say this, but, Doki Doki Dollmaker definitely puts me in the mind of the otome game Nameless—a lonely protagonist coping with the loss of a family member interacts with dolls to help cope, and then said dolls magically turn into human beings. BUUUUT, I kind of feel like this game will have a much more lighthearted tone than Nameless, which can be a bit of a tearjerker when you really dig into the individual character routes. And honestly, we could all do with more fun and upbeat romance stories, especially in the BL genre. Doki Doki Dollmaker is going to a 13+ game, with the option to include 18+ content if certain Kickstarter stretch goals are met, but I’m okay with the story staying SFW.
The art is gorgeous! I love Deji’s style, they’ve worked on a couple of other indie games (Cute Demon Crashers and Autumn’s Journey) and I like how soft and colorful the character designs are in all those games. It definitely works with a cute game like this!
So, the Kickstarter campaign was launched on March 16th 2021 and is set to run until April 15th 2021! The campaign goal is $7,000 to help with the production costs of the game!
Support the Kickstarter Campaign: Doki Doki Dollmaker KS Campaign Page
Play the Demo: itch.io