Doki-Doki Universe PS4 review – Cuddly love manifesto in robot adventure form
You will struggle to utter one negative syllable about Doki-Doki Universe‘s doodle-centric adventure without suffering huge pangs of guilt, because all it wants is to be your mate. This isn’t the kind of game that looks friendly, but is actually the work of espresso-addled hipsters who flunked their art foundation and are coding to fund their moustache wax habit. Doki-Doki’s warm-hearted visuals are the real deal, and so is the loved-up philosophy that governs its gameplay.
You play as QT3, an outmoded robot long-since abandoned by your fickle human owners. Some mechanical folks might turn to a spot of rampaging under such circumstances, but QT3 spends 30 years waiting patiently for their return (the big lug). You’d probably be there longer still if Jeff the alien didn’t pick you up and take it upon himself to teach you about humanity.
Yes, finally there’s an entire game based on the ‘I know now why you cry…’ scene in Terminator 2.
Doki-Doki’s first problem is that it arrives hot on the heels of the superior Stick It To The Man, a game so good I might actually have a crush on it. Conceptually they’re improbably similar: both task you with skipping around a 2D plane, talking to people and solving their problems using stickers. QT3 has the advantage of space travel hopping on a player-chosen steed and travelling to far-flung locations to learn empathy, love and the cuddlier aspect of the human condition. On Ancient Egypt-themed Farroh, for example, you meet Cleo and her now deceased lover Ramses. Seperated by death (but still very much in love) you can reuinite them and, in the process, level up your budding humanity.
It works like this: You collect doodles of objects from every place you visit. Each time you meet someone, you find out a little about their likes and dislikes – and if you have a doodle of something they like, you can summon it to please them. You’ll love how much a cactus appreciates the dolphins you give him – these simple, earnest good deeds really are a beautiful thing to be part of.
While I’ve got my steel toecap in the puppy’s
ribcage, I might as well say that the galaxy-trotting do-good gig gets repetitive quickly
Which is why it’s so hard to write this paragraph: Doki-Doki Universe can also get pretty messy. Most missions require a lot of different pictures, so by their end you’re almost drowning in doodles, along with the mostly-obscured characters you’re trying to interact with. While I’ve got my steel toecap in the puppy’s ribcage, I might as well say that the galaxy-trotting do-good gig gets repetitive quickly, complemented only by personality quizzes and a home planet customisation mode.
You should still play it, though. Play it for the cross-play it offers across PS4, PS3 and Vita, but more importantly for the beautiful attitude it exudes. This is a game that seeks to find the good in you, so why not return the favour? As an interstellar exercise in empathy and understanding, it seems altogether inappropriate to point out Doki-Doki Universe’s technical faults, but they’re there all the same.