By: Jeff Cater
Doki-Doki Universe is a family friendly game about a robot discovering his inner humanity by helping others be happy. The game, developed by HumanNature Studios and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, features cross-buy support so you can play it on any of the current Sony platforms. For review purposes, however, we’ll be looking at the PlayStation 4.
As the game is locked to the 2D plane, the left thumb stick will walk the robot about the screen or fly his chosen mount in the desired direction. Pressing X will engage characters in conversation and make menu selections, and square allows you to pick up various landscape decorations, or even other characters, all of which can then be thrown or slammed down with the right stick. L1 brings up your current objectives, which can then be navigated with either directional pad or the thumb stick. Overall, the controls are simple and easy to learn, and the game never truly calls for a mastery of them.
They definitely took a minimalistic approach to the visuals in Doki-Doki Universe; the game pretty much looks like moving clip art done by Ms. Apple’s fourth-grade class. The color variety and character design sure is wide, and anything that is animated is done so in a whimsical manner to fit the humorous tone of the game. Character design and environments are widely varied and interesting to say the least, from gibberish-spouting humanoids to polite monoliths. It’s not complicated or blistering 60fps volumetric garblefasters, but it’s easy on the eyes and constantly full of new things to look at.
On the other hand, the soundtrack is very soothing and fits each environment perfectly. There’s VERY little spoken dialogue, most of it coming in the form of Ooohs and Ahhhs, but it serves its purpose. The other sounds inhabiting the universe are nothing more than springy collection noises and blips of text bubbles popping up.
Doki-Doki Universe is very interesting conceptually: learn the characteristics of humanity through helping others. This can be accomplished by summoning items that they desire or objects that will help them solve a problem. You’ll be summoning pets, vehicles, pillows, and damn near everything and anything to satisfy your new friends.
Once you’re done with one planet you can hop on your trusty steed (mine is a winged beaver!) and float on over to another planet to help that populace. In between, you’ll find additional presents and also asteroids that monks reside on. When you visit these monks they will present you with a personality test that will offer a little bit of insight as to your own personality.
I found myself having more fun floating between planets to learn about myself — and it turns out the one thing I learned the most was how much of a self-serving prick I was.
Doki-Doki Universe isn’t groundbreaking or a smash hit, but it is most definitely a good game with an original concept. Cruising the miniscule galaxy, learning about the humanity of one’s self and those you share existence with through the eyes of a robot is a unique and engaging way to keep the player trying to make people smile.