Game Review: Doki-Doki Universe (PS Vita)

Doki-Doki Universe PS Vita

Doki-Doki Universe is a puzzle and exploration game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita, PS3 and PS4. Doki-Doki Universe is an adventure exploring the solar system, while discovering the various emotions that collectively form humanity in the process.

The story of Doki-Doki Universe revolves around a robot called QT3 who has been challenged to prove his humanity, despite being a robot. The stakes are high as if QT3 cannot prove his humanity; he faces the potential of being thrown in the factory scrapheap.

Doki-Doki Universe allows you to explore every planet in detail and for you to have fun while doing so without any restrictions of what you can do or when you can do it. You can have conversations with other people and creatures and experience their variety of emotions ranging from happiness to anger and sadness with thoughtful and kind gestures potentially leading to love and relationships.

The levels are actually planets with over 100 characters that widely vary in size, shape and personality, although the look and feel of each planet is that different that each planet takes on its own personality and character, which adds to the charm of the game. The level design is exceptional as all of the details of each planet ties perfectly with the unique art style with planets including a day-night cycle; trees; buildings; and various interactive objects which helps to increase the charm and character of each planet.

You can adorn any of the planets you visit with a variety of unlockable decorations and summonables. Decorations and summonables are approached in a way that is reminiscent to the bubbles found in Little Big Planet games. The decorations and summonables are also known as presents, which are unlocked by completing various tasks for a range of characters on each planet you visit; progressing in relationships; and some are hidden behind objects and areas of scenery, such as trees; houses; benches; and much more besides. Decorations and summonables are very important in your progression through the game as you are required to provide a lot of the characters with the appropriate decorations or summonables in order to complete various tasks before receiving something in return, such as a new decoration or summonable.

Dust bunnies work as the in-game currency as you are granted with dust bunnies when you please some of the characters in the game with the presents you gift them and in turn that allows you to continue providing gifts for some of the characters; as you will use two or three dust bunnies for each gift you present to a character, while still having enough dust bunnies left over to try your hand at gaining a reaction from certain characters with some prank presents.

As you progress further through the game and visit more planets; you will come across asteroid quizzes in which you will get to learn more about yourself and your own decisions based upon your answers to a variety of multiple choice questions ranging from how you would spend your time on the beach to what would you do if you had hallucinated and saw something as you had walked past your bathroom only for it to disappear when you looked again. Each of the unique asteroid quizzes will provide an insight into your own personality by telling if you are passionate, kind hearted and an action lover or perhaps even the complete opposite of those characteristics. The asteroid quizzes is another area of the game to contain humour with one of the questions providing an illustration and asking, “What’s their problem?” with one of the three potential answers being, “The one in the middle broke wind”.

The humour of the game will be putting a smile or a laugh on your face quite regularly with quirky sound effects from all of the characters to express their range of emotions from one side of the spectrum with pure joy and excitement to the other side with fear or upset with some rather funny animations added into the mix at times and the reactions of characters after you have presented them with presents they either really like or really hate.

The limited edition bundle of Doki-Doki Universe features everything from the standard edition with the additional content including: two personality quiz packs; two story packs; nine Deko mail packs; and a Doki-Doki Universe dynamic theme for PS3. If you already own the standard edition, then you can upgrade to the limited edition bundle by downloading the additional content, which is available as individual downloads. Doki-Doki Universe will be supported with downloadable content to broaden the experience, wealth of content and exploration even further to complement what the game already offers.

Facebook integration allows you to send and receive messages that contain animations, which really is a great idea that provides another charming characteristic to the game. The messages can be sent and received between anyone who is Facebook friends with access to a PlayStation device or mobile devices and has accessed Facebook directly from the game on one occasion. In the case that you are sent a message, but do not own the game; you will receive a Facebook notification to let you know that you have received a message from a friend using Doki-Doki Universe and asking if you would like to download the free messaging application. It is important to note that you can remove the Facebook application at anytime and the game itself never retains any personal information from your Facebook profile.

Doki-Doki Universe supports cross-buy and cross-save between the Vita, PS3 and PS4. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the Vita, PS3 and PS4 versions of the game with just a single purchase. The cross-save functionality allows you to sync the progression of your save file from your Vita to your PS3 or PS4 and vice versa, so you can start playing the game on your Vita on the way to and from work, sync your save game when you return home and then resume were you left off by loading the save game and continuing via the PS3 or PS4 version. The cross-save feature is made possible by uploading your save file to the cloud on one console and downloading it from the other console.

The controls are well mapped and certainly make the most out of all of the Vita’s functionality and technology as there are multiple control schemes that can be used and alternated between at any given time. The face buttons control scheme consists of pressing square to shake or lift an object or part of the scenery, such as a tree to see if there are any presents hidden behind it, while you can also levitate your character in mid-air followed by changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move the character anywhere around the screen or the right analogue stick to fling your character onto the ground in a heap; X to collect presents, to select a character or to progress onto the next line of a conversation; O to exit from a conversation or menu; L to view your current goal log which contains a full listing of all of your current objectives and which characters those objectives were issued by; R to view the breakdown of the remaining hidden and relationship based presents on the planet you are currently visiting; moving the left analogue stick to the left or right allows you to move the character in the appropriate direction; changing the direction of the right analogue stick allows you to perform greetings and special moves; pressing up on the d-pad calls your flying pig to pick you up and pressing up on the d-pad again will fly you back onto the planets screen, while pressing down on the d-pad will return you to the ground of the current planet you are visiting; and start to display the pause menu.

The touch screen control scheme consists of various icons you can tap to perform all of the actions you can use the face buttons for, while the rear touch pad replaces the right analogue stick to perform greetings and special moves and the gyroscopic motion controls allows you to tilt the world by tilting the Vita itself after you have tapped the rear touch pad a few times, but you can also use the gyroscopic motion controls to the left or right to adjust your perspective of your surroundings.

Doki-Doki Universe possesses a wonderfully unique graphical art style as though a person’s wild imagination has just been realised on a never ending canvas, which is visually extremely eye catching. It is certainly one of the most colourful games I have ever played with quality visuals that blend together superbly with the unique art style from start to finish.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menu and various gameplay menus and on-screen prompts throughout the entire game with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick or rear touch pad. The background of the menu screens consists of a backdrop from the planet you have most recently visited.

The audio has a great variation to it, which really adds to the charm of the game. The music changes when you visit a different planet or it changes from day to night and despite not containing any proper speech; the sound effects of each and every character are hilarious, which bonds the sound effects with the humour of the game.

The trophy list includes fourteen trophies with eleven bronze trophies, two silver trophies and one gold trophy. The easiest trophies are the enough about me… bronze trophy for discovering all of the preferences for a single character by collecting information from communicating with various characters; the There’s no place like home bronze trophy for placing a decoration on your home planet; and the Dear QT3 bronze trophy for reading a letter from any character. There are some trophies that are earned naturally by progressing through the game and completing particular tasks, such as the Out standing in his field bronze trophy for helping Scarecrow throw a party for Persephone and the A Cactus with a porpoise bronze trophy for helping Cactus get a dolphin. The hardest trophy of all has to be the Just like a real boy gold trophy for completing all of the goals and earning all of the presents across all of the planets, therefore completing the entire game. I would estimate depending upon your thought processes of how to approach each conversation and puzzle and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between five to ten hours to 100% the trophy list.

There are no difficulty levels, so the only difficulty you will find is from figuring out some of the more challenging goals that QT3 will have to undertake in his attempt to please the characters around him, while on his search to prove his humanity. The game as a whole is not particularly difficult once you have become used to the game mechanics and how everything works, so the various puzzles, tasks and quests that form the overall set of goals that you are required to partake in will naturally be completed on your journey towards the conclusion of the game as each of them are important towards proving QT3’s humanity by helping those around him that he finds to be in need.

There is no online multiplayer or online leaderboards, although I was not anticipating either to be included as the vision of the game has clearly been outlined by the experience it provides from its adventurous exploration.

The replayability of Doki-Doki Universe lasts beyond the end of the game as the game is supposed to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace with every interaction and conversation explored, alongside reaching the overall achievement and having every goal covered with every present found as you continue your adventure across every planet the game has to offer.

Overall, you have to reward HumaNature’s risky decision to clearly committing with intent to produce an innovating experience that is totally different in its nature, rather than playing it safe by spending far too much time polishing up what they already had. The outcome of HumaNature’s approach to developing Doki-Doki Universe has resulted in an experience unlike anything that you have ever played before. At a price of just £5.99 for the standard edition or £9.99 for the limited edition bundle with both editions providing all three versions of the game on Vita, PS3 and PS4; Doki-Doki Universe is an incredibly affordable game, which provides an experience that you should never miss out on!

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Doki-Doki Universe
  • Publisher: HumaNature Studios
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: Yes
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 492Mb

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