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Game Info:

The Universim
Developed By: Crytivo Games
Published By: Crytivo Games
Released: Pre Alpha: September 15, 2015; Alpha: August 2 2016; Steam Release: August 28, 2018
Available On: Windows
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: 1 offline
Price: $40
(Humble Store Link)

Thanks Crytivo for sending an early copy of the game to review.

Little g or big G. That’s always the question I have when playing a “god game”. Am I playing as God or am I just some god. The Universim is one such game that brings that debate to my mind. In The Universim, you help guide a fledgling civilization from the days of living in huts made of stones to populating many different planets. Well, that’s the plan at least since the game is still in development.

In the beginning, you have two nuggets and a randomly generated world to have them fill up. Nuggets will go around and collect resources, build homes, and fulfil their needs all on their own. Your job as their god is to choose what advancements the nuggets will make, build specialty structures, and assign nuggets to tasks. There are many choices when it comes to advancements. You can choose to either research some core advancements such as learning how to fish or hunt, or you can have them advance by learning how to make round cogs or develop power naps. You also have access to some god powers, but they aren’t fully in yet with one category of powers being empty. It is these powers which seem to be your main way of interacting with the nuggets.

Choosing the proper advancement to research can either make or break a civilization depending on your choices. Each research takes time to complete and during that time your civilization will grow. If you take too long researching little advancements and not doing any technological breakthroughs, you’ll wind up with a civilization that is either way too big and requires too much micromanaging or one that has ran out of resources. My two attempts have all kind of failed since I did not prioritize major technological breakthroughs. That is kind of one complaint I have with how it is set up. It is very easy to get distracted researching the smaller, but really good sounding advancements and not taking any of the big ones. The game does attempt to warn you about this, but it doesn’t really work well. Even when knowing I’m not supposed to be doing that, I still did it. Some just seem like things that should never be passed up. None of this ever ruined my civilization fully; it just ruined my experience with them.

The Universim
Highlights:

Strong Points: Really nice art; an interesting world that is similar to ours, but just different enough to be unique; interesting research topics; it has enough foundation to make me want to see more from the game.
Weak Points: Research just takes time which can really drag out a playthrough; both not enough control and too much control in different areas; it is very easy to do research wrong and reach a state of boring.
Moral Warnings: Cartoonish violence; some gross-out humor and overuse of the word dam; nuggets must mate and reproduce and sometimes do it outside of marriage; dead bodies persist after death; minor questionable magical-related choices; player takes on the role of a god.

Currently, I have a love / hate relationship with this game. There are many things here that I like, as well as many planned ideas I look very much forward to seeing, but a lot of stuff currently is missing or needs some more work. For instance, what I mentioned above about me not caring about my civilization anymore, thus not caring to play it anymore, is the fact that you can’t place homes for your nuggets. They will go off on their own and place down homes wherever they like. This can make it frustrating to make a good layout. You are responsible for placing wells and eateries, which are all things nuggets need, but your nuggets might not settle in such a manner that it is easily manageable. You also then have to assign nuggets to work at those locations, but it can be somewhat difficult to find a local nugget to do so.

Perhaps my favorite feature so far is with the prayer altar. This is a little structure that your nuggets will build that will allow you to receive their prayers in a funny email format including a spam section for prayers asking you to turn your wrath upon their enemy. So far, I’ve only ever gotten two emails from this which is a bit of a letdown. One feature that I didn’t like so much was that you had to build an Archive if you wanted to save and then station somebody there. This is really finicky and can make it take a bit to save your first game. Finally, while the idea behind the research is cool, I found that to be the biggest thing preventing me from wanting to play this game more. All research takes time and it doesn’t appear to be anything you can do to change that. All my civilizations hit the point where all I really had to do was more research, but there was nothing for me to do in-between the research. It got to the point where I’d just select a research topic and then tab out and do something else waiting for it to complete.

I have to say I think the menus can use some work. Everything looks nice, but there aren’t too many things per page and I’d prefer to just scroll further than sort through different pages to find the right nugget or structure. I’ve also had a few bugs with this game. So far, the biggest was one where I had been playing it for a bit and the game would start to lag whenever I tried to place a structure. I had to restart the game to fix that. I also had my fishing nuggets pilot a boat with it sticking vertically out of the water which was fun to watch. Some of my godly powers I never could seem to get working properly and the telekinesis could be a little finicky to use. Generating a new world also takes a decent bit of time.

I really liked the art in this game. It is all colorful and simplistic and I love the selection of creatures. Most of them are just regular creatures like bears, foxes, or mammoths, but with lines and symbols all over their body which make them look mystical. The structures also have a nice mystical / magical atmosphere about them. Your nuggets start off looking plain, but with some research and new structures, they start to get different clothes and hairstyles. The music is okay, but nothing rally stood out to me, though that could be due to the amount of time I spent researching.

The Universim
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 62%
Gameplay - 11/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 71%
Violence - 5.5/10
Language - 6.5/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 9.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

From my experience, the game is not too violent. There is some hunting with your nuggets tracking down animals and throwing spears at them. I’ve also had a few nuggets get killed by some wildlife, but I was never able to see this actually happen so I can’t attest to how violent it is. It seems to be pretty rare with it never happening on my second civilization even without building any protective structures. Corpses do persist, but that is used for a graveyard mechanic. I believe I also had a pool of blood once, but that might change depending on how they die. The game does have a lot of references to mating and you even have a god power to make nuggets go and do it. The game just has the nuggets go into a hut, have some heart appear and plays a little bed rocking sound, and then have the parents come out with some baby nuggets. Most nuggets do seem to get married / form some kind of relationship before mating, but I’ve had some just go and mate. I had one nugget whose spouse died pretty early and she’d just have random males come by her house and mate with them. This is a bit unfortunate, but I hope they add in some feature of extra happiness from doing it with your partner and not some random stranger.

There was also a little bit of vulgarity in the game. Some of the crops that can be planted have some gross out names and some other names that could be offensive to some. They also really used the word dam in a research description about a dam technology that was a bit overdone and was really just them trying to say a bad word. At a certain point, you can build a hospital, but it is manned by a witch doctor which uses herbs to heal. This could be fine with some, but I know I'm used to seeing them associated with dark magic. Finally, perhaps the biggest thing is the fact that this is a god game and I could see that either being offensive or flattering depending on how you look at it. Personally, I found it pretty funny how it made the prayers into an email system with a section for spam. I know I’ve sent some of those over the years.

While I have said a lot I disliked about the game, it is one I’m looking forward to playing more of; just not this build. It has a lot of promise and some cool ideas for future content, but I just feel like I can’t review it for what it might have and instead have to review it for what it does have. As of right now, I wouldn’t recommend picking the game up unless you just really want to go ahead and play it and give some feedback. The game is supposed to be officially launching on Steam near the end of August and I’d recommend checking it out there since I’d expect it to have more content added in by then. Overall, I’m happy to have this game and am greatly looking forward to getting more content to mess with and will totally do another review of it when that happens.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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