When I sat down with Doki-Doki Universe, I had no idea as to what to expect. Developed by HumaNature Studios, owned by one of the creators of ToeJam & Earl, Doki-Doki Universe offers up a more unique way of interaction and game play. It may not be the most exciting or innovative way to play, but it does offer up some distinctive things.
Doki-Doki stars a discontinued robot named QT3. He has been abandoned by his human family and has an encounter with a little alien that was sent to find all the obsolete robots and take them to become scrap. Luckily, the alien will allow QT3 to prove his humanity and keep him from going to the scrap heap. QT3 shows his humanity by interacting, learning from and helping out other inhabitants on multiple worlds surrounding his home planet.
The game is a cross between Scribblenauts and the social interactions found in the Fable series. Players will talk to and help others on their planets by completing objectives and making the inhabitants like or dislike QT3. QT3 can summon special items using dust bunnies (the game’s currency.) When an object is summoned, it will effect the person it was summoned for, and depending on what their likes and dislikes are, will either have them like or hate QT3 more. Each planet has a set number of gifts to collect. These gifts are usually new items to summon or dust bunnies. The player is tasked with getting them all. Many can be found hiding behind things in the background, but others are only given to QT3 from people, and those people either need to hate him or love him. It varies between individuals.
Once a player has obtained all the gifts for a planet, they are done there. They can now travel to other planets or their home for some nice planetary decorating with all the new items they have acquired from the other areas.
There are also multiple asteroids to visit. These represent a series of personality questions that are asked to the player. After doing a certain number of them, the player can then send QT3 back to his home planet to get evaluated by the local shrink to see what kind of personality type he is. The more questions the player answers, the more complex and distinctive the personality summary is.
Finally, there is a neat little mail system where players will receive letters from NPCs and other players from time to time. These letters use a special animated format where I could create my own letters and use animated symbols for parts of the letter. Sure, it’s a superficial thing, but I have sent a few letters to my Facebook friends and I thought they were nicely done.
Now, I know many may say “That’s it? That’s all you do?” and yes, even I asked myself that question after about an hour or so into the game. After exploring the multiple planets and seeing what the other inhabitants have to offer, I can see some gleams of brilliance in it. Each planet has unique characters on it. Sometimes they will have QT3 do multiple things. These may be simple tasks like summoning a scary monster. Other times I was tasked with a stringing combination of things that require multiple NPCs on the planet. It may not have that hook that Scribblenauts does, but it has that charm to it.
The visuals are nice as well. Everything has a hand-drawn look to it, and the presentation is cute and fun. Something a family could sit down and enjoy together. Each world has its own look and feel to it, like one world may be all about snow and ice while another is covered in beaches, hula girls and body builders.
Along with decorating my own planet, I could also changeup what my QT3 looks like and obtain new mounts to ride on through space. Many of these are unlocked by leveling up after obtaining experience through helping others.
The game feels like an experience for kids, but some aspects and objectives feel too complicated for a child to understand completely and finish on their own. The problem for adult players is more the lack of much action. Interactions with others is really the name of the game, and talking with NPCs and taking personality quizzes doesn’t make for much of an attention gathering experience. Still, I won’t lie, I sat down for multiple hours and talked to everyone on a planet and did what they wanted me to do just so I could get that 100% complete status on the planet’s profile. It has a rather addictive aspect to it where I was never really challenged too much, so that made obtaining everything rather easy and simple to complete, and I just had to finish it.
The game features cross-buy on PS4, PS3 and Vita and all saves and data are uploaded to the cloud so picking up my last game on any system was a snap. For $15, players looking for a different experience on their Sony consoles can have a decent time with Doki-Doki Universe. Originally, I wasn’t too thrilled with the game, but after giving it some time and exploring multiple planets, I can see the appeal and I actually enjoyed most of what I played. Just don’t expect much action out of the experience and you’ll be fine.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.