I’m not sure what HumaNature’s Doki Doki Universe is. Is it a puzzle game? Is it an adventure game? Is it a personality test? It’s kind of all of these things. It’s also kinda good, kinda being the operative word. It felt like half children’s show, half something maliciously profiling my personality through what seems to be a totally innocent game.
In Doki Doki Universe you play as a robot named Model QT377665, or QT3 for short. You are abandoned on an asteroid by your human family that you know little about. You set off on a journey to discover more about yourself and the universe’s inhabitants. If you’re looking for riveting gameplay, Doki Doki universe is not for you. The aim of the game is to talk to people and help them out. By helping them out, you gain access to other objectives and items called ‘summonables’. A summonable is an item that you can give to people that may or may not solve their quandary. Along the way depending on the choices you have made, you’ll learn more about yourself as a person thanks to the insight of The Therapist; a character who psychoanalyses you on the course of your adventure. There are 15 different personality tests, most of which when I answered were pretty damn accurate, which was impressive to say the least.
The writing is clever and impossibly cute, which made me enjoy it more than I thought I would. It handles some pretty serious topics that I wouldn’t think such a cute game would explore. At the same time, Doki Doki universe is not an abstract puzzle piece. A lot of the things it asks from you are very simple. There is a list of things people inhabiting the planet love and hate. Give them the things they want and they’ll grow to love you. The way you find out about what they love and hate is by talking to them, which usually opens up details on another character.
The graphics are colourful, superflat, black outlined and solid colours with onion skin animation where every line looks different in a frame. It looks slightly crude in some cases, but it acceptable for the most part. It definitely reminds me of a Scribblenauts in terms of its movement animations and overall control. On the PS3 version of the game, the game was subject to some stuttering and frame drops. I’ve also heard that the Vita version is in the same boat. It’s nothing that got in the way, but load times were pretty slow for a downloadable title. I’m not a huge fan of the art style, but it holds up in this regard. Plus iy reminds me of Alien Hominid which is always a plus.
There is a lot to do here. There are 18 planets to explore, each with a unique theme and group of characters to interact with. Unfortunately, the main problem I have with Doki Doki Universe is the repetition. Talk to this person, give something to that person, use the item you get to please this person, repeat. If you’re not super into that, Doki Doki Universe may not be for you, especially at its 15 dollar price tag. The good thing is that it’s the same price across the Vita, PS3 and PS4, and if you own it on one machine, you own it on everything.
Overall, I enjoyed Doki Doki Universe for the first hour. After that, it was repetitive and I didn’t want to look at it anymore. It was overwhelming at first, but it quickly became routine. If you’re going to fall in love with this game, it’s the writing and humour that will carry it. It’s interesting and non-traditional enough to earn a recommendation, but the lack of a true goal didn’t really appeal to me personally.