From the creative minds behind the Toe Jam and Earl series from the early Sega ages comes a new game about an alien, a robot, and their quest to learn about humanity. With its offbeat take upon daily human life, this unlikely duo is seeking out what it means to truly be human. Doki-Doki Universe is less of a game and more on a self-enlightenment tool. Every choice, every interaction is meant to teach you more about the human psyche.
The story opens up with you, a family robot named QT377665, or QT3 for short. Their family left him all alone upon an asteroid to faithfully wait for their return. During his wait a representative from the factory that constructed QT3 visits him atop this lone asteroid. Alien Jeff, the aforementioned representative, picks QT3 and tells them about their fate. QT3 just so happens to be an older model robot, a model that’s being recalled to be repurposed and turned into scrap metal. The reason for doing so: these older robots simply suffered from having a lack of humanity. For reasons unknown, Alien Jeff has offered the robot QT3 a chance if he can just learn to be more human. If QT3 can succeed, the robot factory will spare QT3’s product line from being turned into something mundane like chair legs.
With twenty planets available to travel about, and six more available via DLC, there’s plenty of content to explore about. Each planet in the Doki-Doki Universe has their own tiny ecosystem and friendly inhabitants to interact with. From a Hawaiian beach to frozen tundra to feudal Japan filled with demons and talking sushi, there’s no shortage of unique characters for QT3 to discover. Every single planet has their own little moral lesson to teach QT3 on his path to understanding what it means to be human.
Doki-Doki Universe requires a different approach to full appreciate its simple beauty. If you’re just rushing from planet to planet, completing goals as quickly as possible, much of the charm is immediately lost. While the game is progressed forward by approaching citizens in need and solving their tasks at hand, it requires a much more laid back approach. Some characters will open up to you in the first conversation, others require a bit of friendship and compassion to get going.
The true beauty to Doki-Doki Universe comes from its simple charm. Players don’t have to have the fastest reflexes or the greatest puzzle acuity to proceed. Instead, all that’s required of a player is to open their mind and listen. Puzzles and the gameplay is largely based upon listening to a character and paying attention for what they desire. If all they want is to be bowed to or shake hands, a quick motion on the analog stick will suffice. For those that want something more material, a whole palette of selectable props pop-up ala one of the Little Big Planet creation tools. An evergrowing of animated clip art wills your roster of collectibles, often times gathered by peeking behind background objects or simply talking with other characters around the same planet. If you don’t have the exact item someone is looking for, it’s typically just a few steps away carried by someone else to talk with.
Only rarely do you have to present something precise to suit a character’s needs. One of the few times I’ve had to seek out a particular collectible was to locate a ‘galaxy’ for a starry-eyed character. It was hidden away behind a piece of scenery and really only took a minute or two of traversing across the same planet to locate what they were looking for. My reward was solving one of the goals and teaching QT3 another valuable lesson about humanity. And another collectible to add to the stash, of course.Doki-Doki Universe (PS3/PS4/Vita) Review,