They say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but they never talk about how tricky it is to get flies to honey in the first place. Your Doodles Are Bugged is a puzzle game in which your goal is simple: get some bugs to honey. Your only tool for doing so is a magic pen with which you can draw platforms, ramps, and other shapes to influence the movement of the little critters. Within this straightforward concept, the game finds a kind of challenge that makes wrangling bugs a compelling undertaking.
The lightweight story behind Your Doodles Are Bugged involves the master doodler Doodleus accidentally triggering a magical mishap that traps his bugs inside his doodles. Unlike in the superficially similar Lemmings, you have no control over the behavior of the bugs. The cute little insects simply hop along in one direction, going up or down any manageable inclines they encounter. When they hit an insurmountable vertical line or other impassable obstacle, they turn around and leap in the other direction, oblivious to the fact that this may cause them to fall much farther away from their sugary destination. With just a pen and an understanding of the bugs' behavior, you must get them to the pot of honey in each doodle. Sometimes you have to get all of the bugs to honey, while in other cases just a set number of the total will suffice.
Playing Your Doodles Are Bugged couldn't be simpler. You move the pen with a mouse, pressing a button to draw blue lines that become part of the doodle. These lines can be used to create platforms, ramps, enclosures, and obstacles for the bugs. The first few doodles introduce you to the concept and teach you the usefulness of building ramps that end in vertical lines which cause the bugs to turn and leap. By creating an ascending series of these, you can get your bugs to higher areas. Like so many good puzzle games, the entire gameplay concept can be grasped in just minutes, but within this simplicity lies a lot of potential for absorbing challenge.
Early on, your life is complicated by a limited ink reservoir. Unable to fill the doodle with as many ramps and platforms as you please, you must carefully consider your constructions. You can erase anything you've drawn to return that ink to the pen, and you typically need to solve these doodles in steps. You might get the bugs into one enclosure you've built, then erase unneeded lines and draw the lines that will carry them to the next stop along their journey, and so on. Once you've got everything set to get the bugs from one spot to another, you can click a fast-forward button to speed things up. But completing these puzzles can still take some time, which makes the inability to save in the middle of a doodle frustrating. You might get the bugs halfway to the honey after several minutes, only to make a costly mistake that results in many bugs plummeting to the lowest part of the doodle, leaving you with no options but to embark on a time-consuming operation to extract the insects from this new dilemma you've gotten them into, or to start the whole doodle over. Experimentation is part of the fun of solving the problems Your Doodles Are Bugged presents you with, but it's very easy to miss tiny openings that bugs can slip through, and the setbacks that can result from these accidents can be a bit severe.
The behavior of the bugs is also a bit finicky at times. It's hard to draw perfectly straight inclines with the mouse, which becomes a minor problem when a miniscule imperfection in your ramp causes some bugs who encounter it to turn around. The fact that not every bug behaves in exactly the same way makes them seem much more alive than they would otherwise, but at moments like this, that force you to zoom in and try to smooth out a few out-of-place pixels, herding them becomes a bit of a hassle.
The doodles become increasingly elaborate, and the game gradually introduces new elements, like teleport pads, surfaces that kill bugs on contact, and patches of oil paint on which you can't draw. When you first lay eyes on a new doodle, its intricacies may make getting the bugs to the honey look like a nigh-impossible challenge. But you know that your one and only tool is the key to success, and through careful study of the environment and some experimentation, a path to victory eventually reveals itself. Getting from "How on earth do I do this?" to "I totally just did that!" is immensely rewarding.
In keeping with its concept, Your Doodles Are Bugged exhibits a whimsical sense of absentminded creativity in the squiggles and shapes, the suns, flowers, faces and butterflies that inhabit the doodles. The squeaky little shouts of "Ole!" and "Yoohoo!" you hear from the bugs are endearing, and the assortment of laid-back piano and guitar melodies that cycle provide a pleasant musical backdrop for your sketching.
In addition to the 24 doodles that make up the story mode, Your Doodles Are Bugged includes a robust doodle studio. Here, you can create doodles of your own using hundreds of elements that appear in the campaign doodles, and the studio makes rotating, flipping, and otherwise manipulating these elements a breeze. You can also download other user-created doodles from the developer's website and easily share your own creations with other players.
Additionally, Steam leaderboards rate your completion time on each doodle, giving motivated players an incentive to streamline their solutions. But even with the potential for a never-ending supply of content, 10 bucks is a bit steep for such a simple game. Still, the mental workout this game provides is a pleasant one, and the absorbing nature of these puzzles gives them a meditative quality, not unlike the one you experience when getting lost in a crossword or a Sudoku puzzle. Your Doodles Are Bugged has a few frustrations, but helping these bugs to honey is a mostly sweet experience.