Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita (reviewed)
Doki-Doki Universe is the story of QT3, a robot on an important mission. He is out to learn everything he can about humanity, in order to avoid becoming scrap. During his journey QT3 will visit a number of unique planets filled with a crazy cast of characters and learn about everything from love to self-esteem. While the message the game tries to convey and topics is covers are all important, the gameplay does little to keep you engaged in the experience.
As you land on each planet, you’ll begin doing one of two things. The first is searching for hidden gifts. Gifts in Doki-Doki Universe come in the form of decorations that you use on your home planet or various items that can be summoned by QT3 to solve problems for the characters you meet along the way. Speaking of which, the second thing you’ll be doing is talking with each planet’s inhabitants until you’ve learned about them and solved all of their problems.
As first, speaking with new characters was interesting because you get to learn about all of their likes and dislikes, which will help you acquire more gifts. Unfortunately, this aspect is very cut-and-paste and feels exactly the same on every planet. What it boils down to is talking until you find something a character likes or dislikes (depending on what you’re trying to accomplish) then you summon it, making them love or hate you more. The closest I can relate the experience to is a very, very bare bones version of Scribblenauts. Unlike Scribblenauts though, you can’t let your imagination run wild, instead you’ll get a shallow pools of items you can summon to solve issues with. By the end, you’ll probably feel like you’ve summoned the same few things over and over.
While the gameplay is by-the-numbers and repetitive, there is some uniqueness to be found in Doki-Doki Universe. Each planet you travel to will have a distinct aesthetic, so the scenery never gets boring, as you’ll always have something new to look at. Every planet will not only look different, but there will be a different overarching narrative for each as well. So each character has his or her own story that, for the most part, is worth hearing. It really is unfortunate that the gameplay couldn’t be as diverse as the visuals, themes, and creatures you meet.
Outside of visiting planets, you’ll also visit numerous asteroids in Doki-Doki Universe. These asteroids serve as quizzes the player can take in order to learn a little something about themselves. You’ll be asked various questions that will then determine what kind of person you are. Everything from the type of entertainment you enjoy to what kind of friend or lover you are will be touched upon. This aspect was something I really enjoyed at the start, but after 9 or 10 quizzes it all started feeling very similar, much like the main game. Still though, if personality quizzes are something you enjoy (which judging by my face book feed, a lot of people do), Doki-Doki Universe might be right up your alley.
Doki-Doki Universe is a mediocre game with a lot of charm and a decent message. Unfortunately, repetitive gameplay and a lack of depth keep it from being something truly engaging. That said, as is it’s still worth a look for its quirky story and characters. If you go in not expecting to be blown away, you’ll probably find an enjoyable experience and you just might learn a little about yourself along the way.