Universim

Review: The Universim

Becoming “a god” can come in many forms within the video game medium. Sometimes, it’s playing as DOOM Guy with loads of weapons, guts and gore being spread around you, and just feeling like a total badass.

Other times, you’ll have sim games like Black and White, a title that arguably spawned a whole genre back in the 90s. The Universim falls into that category of games. While clearly, we’ve come a long way, and there are a ton of choices out there for fans of city builders and god-like games, this should be one of those titles that peer down on the others as one of the best and most entertaining. It’s a game that spent nearly a decade in development, and the love and care that has been put into it shows.

Nugget Management

In The Universim, you play as a god or god-like entity. The game doesn’t shy away from making this point. You have followers and worshipers, and when some get angry, they’re cursing your name. But it’s all set up in a wonderfully voiced narration that had me chuckling through hours and hours of gameplay.

As with any game in the genre, you have to learn quite a bit to get things started. Multiple resources, managing the buildings those resources are using, moods and attitudes of your Nuggets (your citizens), and planning for long-term success.

I always find this a significant hindrance for games like this, as it can often take hours or days to grasp what you need to do thoroughly, and restarts are uncommon. It’s not a great feeling. Thankfully, I did not experience this at all with The Universim. It lays out its systems beautifully, with a great narrator and many opportunities to pause gameplay and search through any notes that will help you better understand what’s happening.

UhoAFYc

The Universim Lets You Expand on What’s Possible

One of this title’s most significant selling points is that you can build up your planet and eventually take to the skies, searching for new horizons and possibilities on other floating rocks. The Universim isn’t just about building up a community of happy and thriving nuggets, it lets you create a civilization from the stone age up to the the future of space travel and exploration.

The game does this through an intricate but easy-to-understand skill tree that runs through each “era.” As you earn points by building and expanding your people, you can invest in new technologies to create a better life. But, of course, it’s not always that easy. Each advancement comes with a cost.

nC4psaL

At first, things are simple. Fishing, hunting, water management, logging, and the like. You’ve likely seen that all before. But tailoring how they work, who completes those tasks, and when you choose to advance them is a tricky balance.

Your Nuggets may be asking for new tech, and you may feel it’s time to move into the next era, but what about the repercussions? The Universim does a great job of ensuring you’re not moving too fast or too far out of your capacity. It doesn’t hold your hand, but it does give you subtle prompts from the narrator and text pop-ups reminding you to balance your power, water levels, food resources, and pollution levels.

I rarely felt like I was out of my depth or that the game wanted me to fail. There are ample opportunities to go too far and push the limits, but in my two playthroughs that lasted well over 12 hours, I advanced at a comfortable pace and always had something to do.

222zNzN

You Have The Power

The game asks on its poster: “What would you do with the power?”

And honestly, you can do almost anything. From the get-go, you have god-like powers that range from the friendly to the downright evil, depending on how you use them.

For example, if a rival faction is being built on the other side of your planet, you can strike them down with lightning or flood their region. On the flip side, if a fire breaks out in your village and you can’t build a fire station yet, you can summon some rain clouds to do the work.

Additionally, picking up Nuggets and bringing them to a hospital or a place where they can eat can speed up the process and even make them happier. I found that as my population grew, the small gestures made a big difference, and fewer people were unhappy and protesting outside government buildings. All abilities cost points to use, but they replenish over time.

wt1TAcm

The Universim Has a Great Personality

This game is a joy. As I mentioned above, the narrator is terrific. He speaks with a witty British accent and tone that reminds me of some childhood cartoons. They’re never there to push you in any direction, but I found it continually amusing when there were funny comments about something I did wrong or a task I may have let fall by the wayside.

The Universim also looks excellent and has a fantastic art style. I loved the overall tone of the game, which stems directly from the look of the worlds, the buildings, and, of course, your little Nuggets. Each one has its goofy name, and to me, they all looked like a couple of stacked stones or potatoes with no feet or limbs.

The music is also a joy to listen to and never felt overbearing or out of place. The whole package comes together in a witty presentation that genuinely worked for me at every turn. Even in the most tense scenarios, I found some joy in what was happening or how it took place.

ncmjbyE

Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised by The UniversimWhile I haven’t played every RTS, god-like game, or city builder and management sim over the last decade, this one is one of my favourites.

Whether I was creating a wonderful world of thriving Nuggets ready to explore space for the first time or just getting started with some essential fishing and logging, I had a blast. The game will guide you in all the right ways with intelligent systems that feel just right.

It’s a game that rewards you regardless of your choice. Exploring more technologies and eras is excellent, but if you’re feeling a little hectic and angry today, let off some steam in The Universim. No matter how you approach your world, you’ll likely have a great time!

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PC

Universim
Review: The Universim
Summary
Universim brings an entertaining personality to a god-like game. It's a breath of fresh air with an outstanding balance of difficulty, creativity, and witty presentation from start to finish.
Liked
Amazing personality through and through
Systems feel balanced and fair
Great use of technology skill tree
Just the right length of gameplay