At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, appointments behind-closed-doors are the only place where you can really get a feel for a certain game, away from the hustle and bustle of the exhibit halls.
Unfortunately, in this edition of our hands-on and impressions articles, I had to sneak back into the South Hall of the LA convention center after it officially closed on Thursday. Why? I wanted to get to play Crytivo Game’s The Universim even while the booth was being taken apart around me.
By a stroke of luck, I was still able to play it for about ten minutes, with the help of a art developer guiding me while talking about the game.
In a nutshell: Even though it was a basic, barebones E3 demo build and I was in a rush, I’m already in love with The Universim.
As the God of the civilization you have started, players can do whatever they want to their people. However, there is a overall goal: keep them alive while helping to advance them enough to succeed in colonizing other planets in outer space.
Stepping into the game, I first had to choose a start point for where to put your “Adam and Eve” civilization-founders. Choosing one near water and resources like metal and wood, the simulation started.
You can change what part of the planet you are looking at by either clicking and dragging the mouse towards the direction you want, or pressing W, A, S or D to move in the appropriate direction. Holding down the shift button while pressing W, A, S or D makes moving the camera faster. I didn’t see any significant problems with the traversal and zoom function, the latter of which allows changing viewing of the whole planet from afar all the way to viewing individual people close-up, even if their faces aren’t defined.
The Universim’s weather system is fully dynamic and procedurally-generated, so no two games have the same weather pattern. Animals are also fully interactable, meaning they can kill or hunt beside your people and can be hunted and killed in self-defense. A temperature map showing a region’s temperature by color (green=okay, red and/or orange=warm and hot) is also optional to view, and I only used it once at the beginning of the game when choosing the starting place, and that didn’t even work right then, much to the chagrin of the game artist walking me through the demo.
The two people you start with can be assigned to different skillsets (gathering, scavenging/foraging, construction, etc.), but I didn’t mess with their starting sets.
After a while (time in the game being configurable to be faster or slower), the game informed me that “my son and daughter” wanted to not feel lonely. Following this was a funny animation where, after the two walked into a stone hut that the guy built, the hut shook and jumped with hearts floating out of it, meaning reproduction was happening. The two even said something along the lines of “that was fun.”
Speaking of time in the game, The Universim features era-like sections that are fairly clear-cut when reached in the game, starting with the Stone Age and ending with the modern Space Exploration Age period.
Shortly after, the two companions gave birth to their son, who had to first mature then become an adult before also being able to mate, indicated by a heart icon reaching 100% in the side bar found in the information shown when you click on an individual person. Other information shown in the window is the person’s morale, health and hunger, all of which are critical for every community member. At the start, there is no problem, but I instantly found myself in a rut when, because the population was too large, everyone’s hunger climbed and health and morale went down.
When statistics like morale are not kept high, and if the attitudes of some of your people are not kept in check, The Universim allows players to kill , and punish in other ways, disobedient followers, such as grabbing and crushing or throwing them. Of course, you can also choose to not do that and allow them to choose to not follow your orders, but the Space Age probably won’t come any time soon, if at all.
The Universim has no confirmed release date(s) yet.
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