Doki Doki Universe for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita
Doki Doki Universe is the kind of game I wouldn’t buy myself in a million years, but cropping up on PS+ I had to give it a go. It’s a funny, charming and oddly thought provoking game, but its gameplay grows old very quickly and could grow tiresome.
In Doki Doki Universe you play as QT3, a robot accidently abandoned on a small asteroid with only one companion, a talking balloon. After a few decades, QT3 and Balloon are rescued by Alien Jeff, who informs QT3 that his model of robot may be scrapped due to a lack of humanity. To avoid being scrapped, QT3 must travel the galaxy learning about humanity and helping the weird and wonderful denizens of these worlds with their problems.
So, yeah, Doki Doki Universe is pretty much the most adorable game ever. The plot is obviously pretty basic, but the writing is funny enough consistently enough for it to be worthwhile. You only meet many of the huge number of characters very briefly, but they end up being genuinely vivid and likeable very quickly. There’s a large element of Animal Crossing here, but the characters are way more diverse than the sometimes homogeneous villagers. QT3 is pretty likeable as well and I particularly enjoyed Alien Jeff, who projects a perfect veneer but is in fact the best example of flawed humanity QT3 comes across.
So, the gameplay basically involves flying to the series of planets, which are two dimensional rings with a handful of characters on who need your help. Each planet is themed, both after a particular area or culture, such as the Japanese planet, or about a particular element of human nature, such as insecurity. Some are more interesting than others, such as the one where animals keep humans as pets. Each world will have a handful of quests to solve, which usually involve ‘summoning’ desired items for the characters. These items are gained by helping other people, making them like or hate you, or simply behind the objects in the background. Some of these puzzles are very basic and specific, with one particular summon for one particular issue, but a handful are actually quite clever. Still, it’s not the most compelling mechanic in the world.
There are other gameplay elements, such as the ability to pick people and objects up and throw them, or the power to shake the controller to make the entire world rumble. That is pretty much it though. There are personality tests scattered throughout on asteroids, which allow ‘Doctor Therapist’ on your home planet to describe to you your personality based on these answers. It’s obviously pretty meaningless, but worth a couple of chuckles anyway.
The visuals are charmingly childlike, all looking like it was doodled by a toddler. Many characters are funny just to look at, although the animations are poor to the point of non-existence. There’s a huge amount of imagination on display, both in the characters and in the summons themselves, all 300+ of them. The music is…well, there, and the sound effects sometimes cute, sometimes painfully irritating.
Doki Doki Universe is an extremely repetitive game, and something which wears extremely thin during an extended playthrough. Played as I did however, as a relaxing ten minutes here and there, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.