Yesterday morning, I had no idea what Doki-Doki Universe was. Fast forward to this morning and I can't stop thinking about it. This game has come out of nowhere and completely won me over with its simplicity, humor and an art style that looks like a collection of childhood refrigerator drawings. I can confidently say this is some of the most fun I have had on the PS4 so far.
Doki-Doki Universe is a self-published game from HumaNature Studios, and is another example of Sony's growing relationship with indie developers. Its gameplay and concept is like a cross between Scribblenauts and an educational daytime television show. You play as a robot named QT3 who gets left on an asteroid by his former owners. After three decades of waiting around, QT3 is approached by an alien that informs him his model is obsolete and requires scrapping. The only way to avoid robot death is for QT3 to learn about the basics of humanity. His journey takes him to different planets where he learns how to deal with common humanity obstacles such as insecurity, prejudice and bullying. It sounds pretty heavy at first, but the lighthearted nature of the game does a great job of balancing the serious aspects with humor.
For example, before I even left my new home world, I had to choose a skin for my robot and a new steed. I decided to dress up like a robot cat and use a flying cheese wedge as my galactic vessel. The cheese took me to the world map which contains a variety of different planets and asteroids to visit. Each planet also has its own theme. There's an underwater planet, a medieval planet, a planet with ice cream houses and many others. As different as they are, they all have something in common. They all contain a unique cast of characters with problems that need solving.
This is where the Scribblenauts reference comes into play. QT3 can generate hundreds of items called summonables that are appropriate and inappropriate for any situation. He can generate things like monsters, children, food, a dragon and plenty of other random items. Once you talk to people and learn their problems, you use these items to help them out. Some characters will reward you with more summonables if you help them, and some will reward you if you annoy them to no end. I once got a wishing tree to give me something because I kept scaring him with fire. Basically, the more people you help or annoy, the more summonables you get that are used to help even more people.
Doki-Doki Universe also has lots of personality tests for you to take. Are you adventurous or reserved? Is the right side of your brain dominant or does the left side take charge? Are you a realist? These are the questions the game answers about YOU. And to top it all off, you can decorate your home planet with things you collect from other planets. Your decoration decisions also reflect your personality.
Doki-Doki Universe is one of the most unique games on the PS4. Its $14.99 price tag also entitles you to the Vita and PS3 versions for free. That's a darn good deal for a fun game that’s unlike anything else in recent memory.