The Universim is a new God-game developed by Crytivo Games, currently in early access. With a host of patches and a solid basis of developer support, is this title worth sinking your teeth into?
The Universim is a God-game that puts you in charge of raising your fledgling civilization, called Nuggets, as you bring them from founding parents to the peak of civilization. A concept many will be familiar with, however, The Universim looks take the concept a stage further with living worlds, where the player’s actions can have an outstanding, and long-lasting effect on the game. This stems from both the environment and the Nuggets themselves.
Nuggets are their own people. If people is the right word. They have their own needs and it’s not just water, food and warmth. They have their own thoughts, they will make their own choices (not always for the better) and they’ll seek recreation when they learn what that means. They’ll break limbs, drink from dirty water sources, and wander off. While these sound like they might get a little irritating, they help to give the impression of a living world, where not everyone is quite as switched on as each other.
The other element is the world itself. The Universim set itself up for the long haul, with the actions of your civilization having an impact on the world. The world is an ecosystem, and everything you and your civilization does is going to have an impact. Remove all of the trees from your world and pollution is going to become even more of a problem. Hunt a species too much and you risk killing them into extinction. It all sounds a little too real. You have the choice, as the power above, to decide just how you plan to populate your world. Take everything in a quest to fill the world, or take a more reserved, conservational approach? The choice really is yours.
The Universim gives you several ways to influence the lives of your little Nuggets. You have the usual, dictating their research and learning as well as helping them to construct their communities and utilities. One thing you will not have to manage, however, is the housing of the Nuggets. No, they don’t live underground, they just don’t like to be told where home is. They will be building their homes close to their friends though, forming little cul-de-sacs of houses. Rather quaint and civil, for a species that doesn’t know what either word means.
Research works on a timed principle, with each item of research taking a certain amount of time to complete, increasing as you progress down the tech tree. In the early game, you’ll find yourself with a lot of spare time, waiting for construction and research to finish. Pacing is a little bit of an issue here, but as the game progresses, things start to snowball and you’ll have much more to entertain yourself with.
As a God, you’ve got unspeakable powers, and The Universim encourages you to use them as you wish, for better or worse. Known as Creator Powers, these can include simple tasks such as playing cupid and bringing two Nuggets together, telekinesis to manipulate the world and healing the less fortunate side of your civilization. Telekinesis is a great power for both good and evil, should you want to help your Nuggets by providing them resources you can, or if you’re feeling a little more sadistic you can hurl boulders at their homes. It’s completely up to you. If you’re feeling like a right evil sod and you can even spawn a series of disasters to really throw a spanner in the works.
The whole experience is narrated by the worlds most sarcastic narrator. There’s a somewhat sadistic undertone to the narration, both verbal and written in The Universim, and its delivery can sometimes come off a little abrasive. The art style of the title is very bright and colorful, and for me, the style of sarcastic narration doesn’t really suit. While light-hearted, it does come across as a little much in what is a rather quaint title. It’s towing a line here, and sometimes it staggers.
What The Universim does have going for it, is an outstanding amount of developer support. It’s great to see frequent posts on the title’s steam page, especially when they are covering such vital elements of the title, as Early Access should be. Recently the entire happiness system was overhauled, to entice more macro-management into the title. Happiness is now global and relies on available buildings, events, and how a player uses their Creator Powers. Happiness has 5 tiers, Miserable, Unhappy, Indifferent, Happy, and Overjoyed; with bonuses being applied to happier civilizations. These bonuses can include faster research, twin birth rates, and Creator Point Generation.
Alongside this is the addition of new research, allowing for shifts within buildings. Of course, there’s also the general bug fixes and balance tweaks, but what I found most reassuring to see is the constant work on the title’s performance. A lot of God-games can have pretty poor performance, especially with larger worlds in the late game. Seeing Crytivo working on performance and not just cramming in content for the sake of content is rather refreshing given the sea of titles that have come into Early Access and done little to improve themselves.
The Universim is a genuinely fun little title that’s sure the give fans of God-games something to play for a long time. With regular updates from developers and a focus on listening to community feedback to develop the title, this is one Early Access title that is definitely worth your time and money.