Reviews

My Little Universe – Steam Review

FruitsNDoggie reviews My Little Universe, an exploration survival game.

First Impressions

During my first look at My Little Universe I wasn’t sure what to think about a game centered around a character matching Nickelodeon’s iconic orange. Many reviews pointed out that it’s actually a port of a mobile game, but one that was done well. Toss in the ability to play local coop, and my interest has been piqued. Besides, who doesn’t want their own universe?

Gameplay

Upon first booting up the game, you’re on such a small island it might seem like there’s nothing to do. However, all you need are three tools: an ax, pickaxe, and sword. The ax is for chopping down trees, all sorts of rocks and resources can be mined with the pickaxe, and you’ll fight off monsters with the trusty sword. All three are quite weak at first, so maybe it’s more of a rusty sword. After breaking down some natural resources, you’ll spend a few to open up another island, and start off a trigger of the game’s ongoing loop. Gather resources, use them to upgrade your tools and expand the areas you can go, explore, fight enemies, clear dungeons, go spelunking, find a new resource, use it for better stuff, and so forth. Rinse, wash, and repeat.

The game doesn’t get much more complex than this, although there’s a few wrinkles to consider. For example, wood and stone can be processed by preset machines into lumber and steel. It takes time to make them, and if you go to another world, it won’t continue in your absence. At least, that’s what I observed when I tried it out. If on the same world though, it’ll work and be added to your inventory automatically, even if you transition into a dungeon. Fighting enemies is useful for the gold, a resource you don’t just mine for directly, and a few drop other resources too. You can also do a fishing mini-game to gain a specific resource used to buy temporary buffs.

Controls

Playing My Little Universe with my controller has worked well, and the only minor issue I’ve encountered is from trying to charge my tool. Sometimes, it wouldn’t register that I was holding the button down, happening often enough to be noticeable, but not constantly a problem. I think this is outweighed by an option you make at the beginning, and can change whenever you want. While near resources, you can either harvest them manually, or let the game auto-farm for you. Easiest choice of my life right there.

Story

After things go awry with your rocket ship, you crash onto an unsettled moon, with meager supplies and no way to call for rescue. Perhaps people could infer that, but none of this is shown in the game, either from dialogue or a cutscene. This information came from the store page, so the story is basically nonexistent. I’d have expected some characterization, a few NPCs, and a meaningful reason to motivate your attempts to return home, but alas there isn’t any. So you wound up taking an impromptu vacation, I suppose, heavily doused with manual labor. Why’d I have to land in China?

Visuals

I wouldn’t have assumed this was originally a mobile game from its appearance, as I tend to think of 2D titles more so than ones like this. All of the land masses being made of hexagonal tiles seems a little weird, but I think it’s just a convenient shape for expanding space. If they were squares, it’d create pathways and areas that look like a grid. Bearing in mind the hexagon tiles, all the other objects in My Little Universe have fairly simple designs. Stones and crystals aren’t just spheres, but there’s not much detail as you break them down. Enemies don’t have much to them either, whether in their design, or their animations. There’s a handful of NPCs, but they essentially stand still next to a shop, acting as a proxy as you do everything yourself anyways. You might as well be 100% alone.

Sound Design

Keeping in mind how many hours you’d put into the game, even from those who aren’t recommending it, there’s not nearly enough music to last that long. Ironically, clearing dungeons is one of the shorter parts, so those have sufficient length and enough tunes to not be a problem. However, for all the time you’d spend expanding the main world, each planet would need at least a handful. Perhaps one for each unique area. I don’t dislike the songs, but you’d probably be better off listening to a playlist. After all, there’s no dialogue or cutscenes to worry about, nor are there warning cues from sound effects.

Pros

🌟 It’s definitely a benefit to upgrade your tools ASAP, but even if you max out your weapon early, it doesn’t throw off the game’s balancing too badly. Peons should be easily dealt with anyways, while bosses still put up a good fight.
🌟 I don’t know how many groups of four would want to join up and play this game together, but many local coop titles don’t allow so many to play at once. Usually it’d be PvP.

Cons

❌ I ran into a minor bug during a boss fight in Trollheim. When he used his spinning charge attack, I got mashed against a wall and phased through it. If I hadn’t, I’d have died anyways, but since I was facing cliffs, I couldn’t swim back to land in time.
❌ The tutorial doesn’t mention that you’re able to swim in water, but if you stray too far or stay in for too long, a shark will eat you. I lost one of my levels due to sheer ignorance, which was pretty lame. So be sure you don’t die, as it’ll cost you.
❌ There’s some rookie traps scattered around intermittently. They’d be less frustrating if they didn’t kill you in one hit.

Tips

🔍 Pacifist was the best level-up perk I found. It makes it so until you attack an enemy, they won’t be aggressive. This means you’ll always get the first strike, or have the choice to avoid them instead.
🔍 Before going into caves, it’s prudent to stock up on wood and rock. Similarly, if you’re unable to upgrade one of your tools due to being short of a resource you can access, grind for it.

Final Thoughts

My friend and I tried out local coop, he picked it up quickly, and we both had a lot of fun. Plus, both of us benefited from playing together. He didn’t need to engage with the initial grind in order to get decently established, and his assistance helped accumulate resources quickly. When playing by myself, it’s not uncommon for me to linger in areas whenever a new resource is discovered, needing to build up a stockpile so I can open up other locations. That can be somewhat unpleasant, when I’m engaged with busywork in order to move on. With two people working together, it cuts the work in half, so I’d imagine this is even more fun as a four player game.

We were both pleasantly surprised when he joined me after our first time trying this title, and his levels carried over from our first session. I would have guessed they’d have been lost since he doesn’t sign in with a designated profile, but this makes local coop even better. After playing with my friend, I’m more enthused about recommending My Little Universe, even though it can get grindy in places.

Overall Rating – High Quality

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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