Describing Doki-Doki Universe in with one word or one sentence may be hard, but the key thing that comes to mind is “ambitious.”
From the creator of Toejam and Earl, Greg Johnson, and his studio HumaNature Studios, comes Doki-Doki Universe, an upcoming game that seeks to invade all of your Sony devices (and phones and tablets) to make one huge, unique experience that you can play anywhere.
Doki-Doki Universe is about a robot named Model QT377665–QT3 for short–whose human family told him to wait on asteroid until they came back… and never did. Now, 11,432 days later, an alien named Alien Jeff finds QT3 to deliver bad news: QT3 is an outdated model whose line is getting recalled and scrapped, because their kind aren’t “human enough.” Doki-Doki Universe then follows QT3 on his journey to prove how human it is, with Alien Jeff following and reporting back to his company. Traveling around the Universe on a giant flying pig/whale/poo (it’s open to debate, according to Johnson), QT3 has to visit various themed planets (cute, scary, gross, robot, ice, etc) and interact with hundreds of bizarre characters while Alien Jeff watches and assesses your humanity through each situation.
Doki-Doki Universe is meant to be a hodge-podge of genres and ideas: a sort of RPG/Adventure game, a variety of personality quizzes, comedy, and even a mobile app. As an adventure game and set of personality quizzes, the game offers players humorous situations that also allow them to find out a little more about themselves. According to an interview with Game Informer, Johnson says the idea came to him via his wife and her trip to Japan, where “Kokology books” are popular in some places. Kokoro means heart in Japanese, and Kokology books put readers in what-if situations, offer a choice, and then offer a meaning based on that choice. One example given is “You chose to rest under the tree. The tree represents your parents, so this means…etc.” So Johnson chose to do their own version of that idea, which he says comes out as very light and cute during gameplay, but has enough calculation “under the hood” to accurately assess and compute your personality type, to a degree that may even surprise gamers.
Another aspect of the game is its Mobile Messaging App, Doki-Doki Mail, which will “magically” animate anything you type, to communicate in “playfully expressive ways” with your friends and family. This, too, was based on dynamic mobile messaging in Japan.
When Doki-Doki Universe releases (no word on that yet), it will be available for free on each platform, in a limited capacity, but Johnson is clear that each experience is still full in and of itself. Players will still be able to take the personality tests on each asteroid, still get the messaging system, along with some other “heat stuff.” But players won’t be able to land on planets. On mobile, there’s just the messaging app. But if you enjoy what’s offered, the game can be purchased for a “pretty low price,” as far as plans say so far. The emphasis is on reaching as many people as possible, not excluding players with high prices or a hardcore gaming demographic. Doki-Doki Universe is meant to be played by all, including “non-gamers.” While this is a hugely ambitious project, Johnson and HumaNature want players to keep an open mind, and enjoy the Universe they’re creating. If players enjoy it enough, content will also follow after release.