Eyes on: Doki-Doki Universe

Out of all the games we saw at E3, there were only two that I couldn't wait to play. One of them was triple-A blockbuster Destiny, and the other was a little, PS3-only indie title called Doki-Doki Universe.

NameDoki-Doki Universe
Summary:Adorable, funny, and genuinely heartwarming.
Games Info:Developer: HumaNature Studios; Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform:PS3
Test Platform:PS3

Out of all the games we saw at E3, there were only two that I couldn’t wait to play. One of them was triple-A blockbuster Destiny, and the other was a little, PS3-only indie title called Doki-Doki Universe, created by HumaNature Studios.

When we first saw the art style in Doki-Doki Universe, the first thing that came to mind was Allie Brosh’s wonderful webcomic, Hyperbole and a Half. Doki-Doki is deliberately badly drawn, and thus hilarious.

Doki-Doki Universe is about a robot called Model QT377665, or QT3 for short. At the beginning of the game, QT3 is left alone on a foreign planet by his human family, who promise to return for him. Years pass - more than 30 - and QT3 waits, and waits, and waits, ever patient. Finally, someone comes to find him, but it’s not his family - it’s an alien who informs him that his robot line is being discontinued. If QT3 wants to continue to function, the alien says, he has to learn how to be more human.

So QT3 begins to travel the universe, trying to learn more about humanity. Every planet he visits teaches him something different about how to be human - in our E3 demo, we visited a planet that was designed to teach QT3 about love.

On the love planet, a woman was concerned that her partner, who had disappeared, had gone away because he didn’t love her. QT3 could see her partner - who had died and was a ghost - so it was the robot’s job to make sure the woman knew her dearly departed had really loved her.

First, though, QT3 has to gain the woman’s trust. As you visit each planet, you can explore and pick up different objects which you can gift to people. Then you can make those people like you by gifting them the appropriate objects. To find out what’s appropriate and what’s not, you have to talk to them and form a relationship.

For fun, I gifted the lovelorn woman something I knew she was unlikely to appreciate - a giant spider. While her reaction was hilarious, it took quite a bit of effort to regain her trust after that. Fortunately it’s not just about gifting things - what you say to her in conversation will also have an impact on her feelings towards you.

When you talk to people, a basic conversation tree comes up with options for you to choose from. The game then determines what kind of person you are based on the decisions you make - the game will tell you that you are compassionate, or that you have a good sense of humour. As you play through, the game unravels more and more of your personality, although I’m currently unsure of how that impacts the overall game.

The most remarkable thing about Doki-Doki Universe was that when I left my demo, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Not only is it a cute, funny game, but in the few minutes I spent making decisions along with a developer, I found it genuinely tugged at the heartstrings. It was bittersweet - the tale of QT3 being left behind was sad, but his attempts to become more human were really heartwarming. If a game can make you feel that way in just a few minutes, it has to be good.

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Siobhan Keogh

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