Last updated: December 24. 2013 1:17AM - 1022 Views
By Robbie Vanderveken Special to the Weekender

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‘Doki-Doki Universe’

System: Vita

Genre: Adventure

Rating: E for Everyone

Publisher: HumaNature Studios

Developer: HumaNature Studios

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Smaller independent games are really starting to take over the game market. They are much quirkier titles than most, and there’s no better example of that then “Doki-Doki Universe” (DDU).

“DDU” is more like a lesson in humanity than a game; it is all about little social interactions and helping others. Players assume the role of a robot named QT3 as he completes tasks and answers questions in order to figure out what makes humans tick. Not only is it a fun and addictive game, but you might just learn something about yourself based on what trends the game finds based on your decisions.

QT3 was discarded on an asteroid by his masters because his model is obsolete, but he meets up with an alien who convinces him that he can learn to work with people, so they travel across the universe visiting a variety of planets to learn important life lessons involving devotion, jealousy, prejudice, anger, and other conditions. “DDU” looks and plays very different than anything else I have every played. It is a brightly colored 2D world that looks a bit like a crude, hand-drawn doodle, but it has a cute charm that is hard to forget.

Most of the gameplay in “DDU” revolves around helping others; QT3 travels around talking to people he meets and helps them with whatever is ailing them. QT3 has an interesting ability; he can summon objects he needs just by thinking of them. This is how he helps people, by giving them a solution to their problem. For example, I ran across someone who wanted to see something beautiful, so I summoned a rainbow. You can summon hundreds of items to solve each situation: some more random examples are flying whales, dinosaurs, and even food items. Everyone will react differently when you summon certain things, which can be its own form of entertainment. Some of the people you meet on each world will send you letters to your Doki-Doki mailbox. These letters are usually accompanied by fun animations that are very entertaining.

“DDU” has some very interesting uses on the Vita. Aside from the normal touchscreen functions for picking items to summon, you can also tilt the game world, making everyone fall down; it is amusing to see how people react. You don’t want to do it all the time because people will start to not like you. The gameplay would seem familiar to anyone who has played “Scribblenauts,” but in “DDU,” you don’t have to write anything; you just pick from a bunch of bubbles that have little pictures in them, similar to picking items in “LittleBigPlanet.”

The carrying and picking of the items is very intuitive. You can have 20 items at a time from 330, so you have to be inventive with what you are carrying. If you need an item that you aren’t seeing in your initial 20 items, you can hit “try similar” and it will bring up items that are similar to the one you are on, expanding your options to find what you need. When you complete missions or solve puzzles, you earn presents that you can use to customize your planet or buy new items for your inventory. You can also earn presents by making people happy and solving their problems.

In addition to helping people, you can land on asteroids that contain little quizzes that test your personality. They are short, usually only about three questions, but as you progress through the game, it keeps track of your answers and puts together a profile of what kind of person you are.

One of the only issues I found with the game is that it does tend to get a bit tedious sometimes, and there are way too many options that are blocked unless you pay for downloadable content. Even if you don’t buy the content, it can be a hefty 10 hours, which is pretty sizable for a downloadable indie title.

Overall, I loved this game. The hand-drawn visuals, quirky characters, silly dialogue, and charm this game has make it a great downloadable title. This game is far from ordinary, and it has its flaws, but it is a memorable experience that shouldn’t be missed by players looking for something new and different. Who knows? You might even learn something about yourself in the process.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at rvanderveken@timesleader.com.

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