Doki Doki Universe starts off by introducing the main character, a robot who has been abandoned by his family for being outdated. The overall task which players will spend the rest of the game working towards is then presented, this robot must get Humanity training and pass Alien Jeff’s reports or be sentenced to de-construction (along with all other robots that share the same model number as it). “Humanity is about understanding others” is the advice players are greeted with.
Throughout the title they must be evaluated and on the way they learn about humans and this machine can manage to become more human itself. Attributes are assigned to describe the player’s play-style and actually reflect how you as a player respond and react to the game, judging your personality and other things about you in an interesting and realistic way.
At the same time players also learn about the characters they interact with, such as their favorite greeting and what “summonables” (think of this as gifts and/or gestures) they like. “Summonables” are ways to express yourself or give a helping hand to others. For example, you might give a heart to one that you share love for or you might give a plate of spaghetti to some one who is hungry. Characters will react in many different ways to what you give them, how you greet them, and many times tell you all about themselves in order for you to better learn how to interact with the place you have landed at any particular time.
Human Nature Studios lives up to their name with Doki Doki Universe which displays a wide variety of unique and deeply defined characters encountered across various planets by the main character which is named QT37765 (or QT3 for short). As players progress through the game, like I’ve mentioned above, the main character QT3 is learning what makes humanity tick and how it is and can be more human than originally expected. However, players are also able to learn more about themselves – perhaps affirming or denying beliefs they may have had about themselves before playing Doki Doki Universe.
There are quiz sections in the game that will test the player and these do a shockingly good job of telling players about themselves. I was found to be a responsible, always working person who has a need for excitement and fresh experiences and a quirky sense of humor. The fact that I spend most of my time updating RealGamerNewz with articles, working behind the scenes on our relationships with developers, and crave originality from indie and AAA games makes me sympathize with this finding. And come on, those who know me personally can’t deny I have a strange sense of humor alright! If players answer honestly to the quizzes presented they might just get accurate findings as well. In this sense, the experience is very different for each person. There’s also a psychiatrist-style character named Dr. Therapist who will give you overall evaluations once you’ve taken some of these quizzes.
Here’s an example below:
There’s also different planets you go to which is actually the bulk of the gameplay and consists mainly of meeting people and other beings and assisting them in achieving happiness (or sometimes angering them until they help you on your particular quest of attaining humanity to prevent becoming obsolete).
Here’s an example of that as well:
Beyond this, the game features a very extensive messaging system which allows you to send and receive communications with Facebook friends who play Doki Doki Universe and include animations within the text so that they read more like an emotional e-letter than a simple text. Characters from within the game also send you communications this way so you can keep in touch with them and be reminded of who is who on each planet (and particularly who misses you or wants you to pay another visit).
With all of the positive things I have to say about Doki Doki Universe, there are some negatives as well. Overall, I feel like the game did accomplish its goal and is an incredibly unique experience that should be given a chance – not just by family gamers or children but by all types. The quizzes are great, but sometimes the analysis on the player’s personality can get repetitive. Players must read the explanation for the results in order to get a unique response more often, which is cool but the repetition of personality descriptions shouldn’t be there in the first place. The decorations given as rewards for taking these quizzes are sometimes repeated as well. Having the Limited Edition does increase the variety in what you’ll experience in terms of gameplay and quizzes however.
Players must travel all over the various planets multiple times in order to find the piece that solves each solution to the problems their newly met friends face. On the one hand it encourages exploration to have this happen, but on the other it does present a feeling of never being completely done and causes the more seasoned gamer’s OCD to itch. Characters are so bountiful and varied that it may be hard to remember them all when coming back to the game and with so many objectives spread out this could drastically increase the longevity of the game. This is less of a complaint and more of an observation though. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes the characters players meet will leave a lasting impression and be remembered on other planets. For example hitting a beach planet after someone asked you for something that reminds them of the ocean makes intuitive and emergent gameplay which justifies this construct.
One more thing which is less dramatic but load times between menus can sometimes be a bit of a chore even on next-gen. If this is a game you’ve been wanting to try, these issues shouldn’t stop you from playing. They are not so much detriments to the vision which has been fulfilled here in an interesting way as they are ideas for improving the package in general.
Controls in the game are typically exactly what players expect them to be. The user interface does a great job of showing what must be done at all times and how to do it. Unfortunately, the one thing that seems to have issues at times is using the right analog stick for things like blowing kisses, waving, or bowing. This is somewhat important to gameplay because different characters prefer different greetings, and with it being hard to control which your main character QT3 is actually going to produce the results to greeting someone can be unpredictable. Similarly, some characters like getting picked up but must be placed back on the ground very carefully and this seems to also go outside of the player’s control at times.
Graphically Doki Doki Universe takes the art direction of purely hand drawn visuals with light-hearted animations and a beautiful selection of color palette. The soundtrack is very well fitting to the moment with mainly upbeat tunes that keep things feeling gentle for the player. The result is this game feels like a haven from the dark and negative themes found in most games these days, a sweet escape when players are not up for grinding their gears and instead want to have a refreshing and colorful experience that is other-worldly.
The title’s sound effects are sometimes indicative of humor and do a good job of fitting their role each time they are summoned. Voice acting in the game is basic but fits the part. Perhaps if the entire game was voice acted it might allow for even younger audiences to play, however this also encourages reading and parental involvement which is great for such an emotional foundation builder as Doki Doki Universe turns out to be.
Characters are unique and each have their own personality which must be understood in order to progress through the game. At times this can feel overwhelming, and the game is therefore best played in small bits as the development team mentioned in our exclusive interview with them. In the long run though, this is a really great thing and provides a living, breathing world players will want to go back to and feel a part of. There are online functions such as messaging with friends as mentioned earlier but also visiting the home-worlds of others to see how they decorated it.
Engine Performance: Very Good – No glitches were experienced during our play-through but load times could be slightly improved. Overall there’s not much to complain about when playing the title on the next-gen console.
Replay Ability: Good – Between all of the objectives that come up in the game and the trophy set, there’s a lot to do in Doki Doki Universe and players will be able to spend a lot of time if they want to without too much gameplay fatigue.
We applaud Doki Doki Universe for trying something very different than what the game industry has seen in the past decade and those behind the title for bringing it to the mainstream market where it can be enjoyed by many families and contemporary gamers alike. Exploring and being social, meeting various interesting and detailed characters (each with their own likes and dislikes), visiting unique and charming planets, and helping find solutions to many different situations that are encountered is a fun and easy going way to pass the time. This is a game that can serve as a great family title or something relaxing to play in between rounds in other more intense titles. There’s not much that really needed fixing here, but a few things noted in the review that could have made for a more pleasant experience include more variety in personality analysis of the player as well as certain controls being addressed more fluidly. Overall Doki Doki Universe on PlayStation 4 gets a 7.8 out of 10 (RGN Bronze Game Rating) from RealGamerNewz and is highly recommended for gamers looking for a very unique and enjoyable experience.
Overall Score: 7.8/10
RGN Rating: Bronze Game
Developer: Human Nature Studios / Sony Studio Foster City
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available On: PS3 | Vita | PS4
Played On: Sony PlayStation 4
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of the limited edition of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this Review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jon Ireson on 20131221 and was last modified on 20131221 .