Doki-Doki Universe Review

  • Posted December 10th, 2013 at 09:01 EDT by Glenn Gordon

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Doki-Doki Universe

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Doki-Doki Universe is a cute and interesting timesink, but some uninspiring stories and mechanic issues keep the game from shining and replayability low.

We like

  • Creative, consistent design
  • Likeable characters
  • Interesting overarching story

We dislike

  • Frustrating gameplay mechanics
  • Monotony with progression
  • Small stories aren't engaging

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

With Doki-Doki Universe, ‘cute’ was one of the first words to pop into my head. The entire game, from the world and characters to the HUD and menus, looks as though it were handdrawn by a child. All of Doki-Doki Universe exudes this colorful charm. Thick, black outlines and flat colors comprise absolutely everything. The background music is often light and cheerful. Arms sometimes disappear when not in use. Inanimate objects hold normal conversations with characters who all have round, triangular, or stick-figure bodies, and communicate through speech or thought bubbles with voices that are garbled except for the odd “Yay!” or “Herro!”

At first, this design can feel overwhelming, but first-party studio HumaNature does a great job of quickly making it feel comfortable.

You play as QT377665 (QT3 for short), a robot who is very expressive for someone without a nose or mouth. QT3 has just spent thirty-two years on a tiny asteroid waiting for his human friend to come back for him, with only an adorable balloon for company. Suddenly, a three-eyed alien named Jeff bops along in his tiny spaceship to tell QT3 the bad news that the human girl probably isn’t coming back and QT3 should be reprogrammed. After three decades, the need for an update is understandable, but Jeff reveals that what QT3 lacks is "humanity." QT3 protests that he isn’t human to begin with, which is when Doki-Doki Universe delivers a surprisingly profound line and the game's central theme: “Humanity isn’t about being human…. Humanity is about understanding others.” With that, Jeff whisks QT3 off to his home planet, where QT3 adventure to find humanity and his human friend begins.

First off, asteroids are everywhere on the game’s map. These are home to very short quizzes you can take that offer observations about the real you. These observations aren't always accurate, but they're definitely interesting and provide a very nice respite from the main game when needed. This main narrative thread involves short, side-scrolling planets. There are about 25 planets that QT3 can travel to, including his home and Planet Tutorial. Each is unique in its own way, and each has its own little story for QT3 to interact with. For instance, there is a planet named ‘Suteki’ (which is actually Japanese for ‘nice’) that is indeed decorated with cartoonish Asian culture. There, QT3 meets a woman who is worried because one of her three sushi children (Ebi, Wasabi, and Maki) seems to have run away, concerned that he (or she) might be eaten.

QT3 encounters these cute little stories again and again throughout his adventure. Over time, QT3’s personality and understanding of others really do seem to grow alongside meeting and helping strange new friends. The problem with these kinds of stories is that each one is too short to really garner much investment.

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  • Related game: Doki-Doki Universe

    Release date (US):
    December 10th, 2013
    HumaNature Studios
    N/A - N/A
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