Release Date: August 28th 2018
Genre: Indie, Simulation
What is Universim?
Universim is a simulation game that bestows to you the role of God in a newborn civilisation. The game allows you to take control of the growth and expansion of the Nugget species. Guiding or misleading them, rewarding or punishing them, you can choose to allow this civilisation to be killed in their earliest days or to flourish into a prosperous world of wonder. Your civilisation will come to you for guidance with the terrors and struggles of life, it is your choice whether that help is given.
The First Fifteen Minutes.
My first impressions of Universim were surprisingly good. You are welcomed with a main menu flourishing with colour and a stunning soundtrack. This impression continued as I proceeded into the game I was met with a loud and well spoken narrator, in addition to this we are seen floating through the universe. The narrator’s commentary reads us the story of the universe. He finally comes to a stop as we approach our own planet.
It is from here that we are let into the secret that is our job. We have been given this planet to help grow its inhabitants, the Nuggets, we are their god.
In all honesty, it is a daunting challenge in theory, however it is at this point we are also introduced to our ‘god powers’. These are our tools to help keep our civilisation alive. From the get go we are given access to two or three of these powers, one of which allows us to make our Nuggets fall in love.
This is the only way to proceed that I saw. Once you have brought the beauty of love to your civilisation things begin to move quick. Before you know it you have twenty to thirty Nuggets and a small village on your hands.
Skill Trees and Abilities
I felt I needed to dedicate an area in this review solely to the Skill Trees and God Powers.
I’ll start with the Skill Trees:
The beginning of your civilisation sees them unlock the skill of ‘Primitive Tools’ by themselves, it is from here that you can further progress into the almost never-ending skill tree. It is here that you will learn new technologies and skills to which your nation will use to grow. Each research will take a certain amount of time to complete, this depends on the quality, and usefulness of that skill.
- Wrath – Allows the user to create world events to punish their civilisation.
- Influence – Allows the user to help or punish their inhabitants by having the ability to move surrounding objects and people, or even boost the emotion of an inhabitant.
- Protection – Allows the user to heal a sick or injured Inhabitant
- Creation – I have yet to learn a creation power. However I imagine it is as it sounds.
God points are the key to being able to use your God Powers.
The more of these you have the more God Powers you can use, however you have to use these wisely, you only gain them through completing actions such as building.
A Prosperous Nation.
After a short while and a few generations of Nuggets, you slowly begin to see the true potential of your civilisation. I began to see workers become happy going to and from work. One of the first key aspects I noticed about the game was the need for water. It was for this sole reason that my village was situated near a lake. This allowed for my nation to become proficient in fishing, furthermore I could have more eating areas for my people.
Engineers kept my city from deteriorating, repairing buildings and helping where needed. The doctor helped when my people were sick, therefore allowing me to focus my ‘God Points’ on keeping my Nuggets happy.
As the game progressed I seen my opportunities for growth get more and more scarce, however I was still managing to keep my city alive.
In the third year of my civilisation is where I began to see problems, likewise my Nuggets were struggling. I had failed to recognise a wolf attack on my city quick enough, thus leading to the death of twelve of my Nuggets. It was at this point that things turned for me. The first thing I noticed was the deep depression of my Nuggets and there lack of motivation.
All production had stopped, no income of food or materials. It was all slipping away, and quickly. It was soon after this depression set in that disease began to spread, starting from polluted water. My doctor was deeply depressed and wouldn’t show up for work, thus causing almost 50% of my Nuggets to die.
I had all but given up at this point, and as I sat watching my last few Nuggets dies off, I felt a sense of guilt. I had been so confident in my work as God that I had gotten ahead of myself. Due to a single mistake of my own, I had wiped out an entire species. This game had finally shown its true colours to me. What started off as a beautiful story, with amazing colours and a great soundtrack had become a planet filled with genocide. I was their creator, I was there executioner.
I had a lot of fun playing Universim, even though my playthrough was cut short I still thoroughly enjoyed it. But with any game they have negatives and positives, so here are a list of some key points.
- Beautiful Visuals
- Soundtrack was fitting and immersive.
- Game play felt rewarding. Seeing what you create is satisfying.
- The use of ‘God Powers’ felt unique and was refreshing.
- The use of narration throughout the game was supporting. Worked in the same way the narration worked in Portal 2.
- Manoeuvring the camera in-game can be very fidgety.
- The use of ‘God Powers’ can be hard to pull off sometimes, I am unaware if this is a bug or not but sometimes it was literally impossible for me to use a ‘God Power’.
- The game in general is very unforgiving (I understand that this isn’t a negative as such, but i felt it should be put in the cons as a ‘disclaimer’)
Overall I really enjoyed Universim, simulation games aren’t usually my kind of thing, but this one really seemed to hook me.