Doki Doki Universe Review: Discover yourself
I'm thankful for a handful of games on Sony's consoles that dare to try something different. Games like Unfinished Swan, Echochrome -- hell, even Tokyo Jungle -- all proved that games can think outside the box and still provide a satisfying experience that you're sure to remember long after you're done playing. Doki-Doki Universe is such a game.
On the surface, this is a tale about a robot, QT3, that's been abandoned by his human masters, and is about to be decomissioned due to his complete lack of understanding human emotions. His executioner, a zany looking alien named Jeff, takes pity on the unknowledgable robot, and tasks him with learning everything he possibly can about humanity, emotions and a human's drive to do what they do. It's a charming concept coupled with adorable aesthetics.
Once you're saved by Jeff, you'll be tasked to travel around various planets and complete missions for its inhabitants, which in turn will help QT3 familiarize himself with humanity. The main aspect of gameplay borrows a bit from Scribblenauts, as you're always tasked with summoning objects that will either help or hinder the varied cast of characters you meet on your journey. Some characters will want you to spawn non-specific items, some will simply ask for something shiny, cute or horrifiying, and others will outright ask you for a dragon. Or a boombox.
The missions do get a little more in-depth, though. One hilarious mission will have you finding a lost piece of talking sushi for a little girl. Upon finding it, you learn that it's terrified because it just learned that sushi is actually food, at which point you then have to confront the character that divulged this info to it. It's all silly fun, but while this is happening, you get to make choices that directly identify what kind of person you are. When asked by the sushi if it's really food, you could be direct, or you could lie. Each decision like this will rate you based on what kind of person you are, and that's really the point behind Doki-Doki Universe.
As fun as traveling from planet to planet and completing these missions is, the real meat lies in the myriad of asteroids littered on the map. Each of these will present the player with a few questions that further help identify their personalities. The game shows its brilliance in the types of questions it asks. They never lie in the realms of black or white, and leave much for interpretation. For example, you'll get a picture of three different characters, and based off illustrations alone, you'll need to choose which one you'd rather hang out with. Once you answer each question, the game then gives you a full assessment, and can even go into greater detail explaining what each choice you made means.
It's these moments that I truly felt the game knew more about me than I realized, and all from answering a few simple questions. Once I got each assessment on each asteroid, I was amazed just how accurately it described me.
That said, Doki-Doki Universe isn't a game for everyone. As much as I enjoyed playing through it, I highly recommend checking out some gameplay videos of the game before committing. For those that want to take a cute journey of self-discovery, I can't think of a game that does it better.