I'm a huge fan of the weird and wonderful in video games, so Doki-Doki Universe immediately struck a chord with me.
This is a game centred around conversation, love, empathy, and riding giant poos around space. Weird and wonderful doesn't even begin to cover it.
Some technical issues let it down somewhat, but you shouldn't let that stop you from exploring this universe full of talking balloons, therapists, and robots with plenty of heart.
Prepare to Dok
QT3 is a robot who has been left by his family on a distant planet, and it doesn't look like they're coming back for him.
Many years later, he's been collected for scrap metal - but he's been given one more chance. If he can show that he understands humanity, he'll be saved.
Cue a lot of travelling around the universe, finding people with problems, and helping them out. QT3 is able to conjure up random items that he collects, and give them to people to make them happy. Think Scribblenauts.
He can also wave, bow, hug, blow kisses, and more via the back touch panel. Doki-Doki Universe is essentially about finding the right combinations of movements and items to make everyone in the world happy, and show you are better than a scrapheap robot.
It's lovely to see a game about love and happiness for a change, and Doki-Doki Universe is charming, cute, and heartwarming throughout.I got the Doki, I got the secret
Doki-Doki Universe's charm extends beyond happiness into downright weirdness - and it's all the better for it.
Storylines are wacky, animations are awesome, and some of the items you have to conjure up and ride through space are just mind-boggling. The music, too, is really strange and lovely - you can really tell this is a game from the same mind as Toejam and Earl.
And as you fly around the universe, you'll come across smaller planets that feature short and hilarious quizzes. These attempt to tell you something about yourself, and while they are a little hit and miss, they're still fun to do.
Elsewhere, you've got an entire email system built into the game, through which characters can send you messages while you're away. You can even email people on your Facebook friends list using the game's animations.
Doki-Doki Universe is just so brimming with life and fun things to see and do that it's nigh-on impossible not to get a warm feeling helping all the characters out, and seeing QT3's understanding of the world blossom.
Doked some points
Alas, Doki-Doki Universe is hit by numerous technical issues that drag the experience down.
The frame rate is awful throughout, while the loading times are long enough to go and check your real-life email in between worlds. Any immersion you could be feeling is slowly but surely sucked away.
The game crashed a couple of times while I was playing, too. I've genuinely never seen a PS Vita game crash before, so to see the error dialogue box pop up multiple times didn't exactly fill me with joy.
Worse than all of these issues is the fact that the gameplay itself gradually becomes rather simplistic, as you're simply reading what someone wants, finding it in your conjure list, and repeating these two steps ad infinitum.
Even so, Doki-Doki Universe is a video game you should experience. It's unique, charming, blissful, and will leave you with a big smile on your face for days to come.