Just Chillin…With A Perfect Universe : Review

Quaint, charming, challenging, physics!
Quaint, charming, challenging, physics!

Perfect Universe is a diverse, physics based platformer. No one walks into a restaurant expecting to see “Tomato Soup” as the only item on the menu.  Perfect Universe’s hook is variety, offering a bundle of choices built around a core mechanic. With nine different game types in all, there’s enough diversity to appease a hungry gamer’s palate.

Perfect Universe’s visual portrayal mimics hand drawn charcoal sketches. This style feels like something out of John Lennon’s collected artworks. A fitting portrayal for the abstract aspects of game environments and astral gameplay. Calming music accompanies your menu choices, while the imaginary sounds of deep space chime through during gameplay. Perfect Universe is a cross between an art student’s daydreamed doodles, and waiting in line at Space Mountain. All of which I found pleasant, unique, and conducive to the type of mellow and whismsical experience the game is aiming for.

Jumping through a desert oasis, onto columns, through palm trees... in like... space!
Jumping through a desert oasis, onto columns, through palm trees… in like… space!

Aside from the aesthetics, I really appreciated the amount of value within this title. The first mode “Perfect Moon” would constitute your average indie game release. Here, you coast a shirtless young man through low gravity obstacles, while collecting a set number of diamonds to complete each level. Level compositions are mostly abstract themed and compact. You’ll vault over towering columns, walls, or over speeding trains, while gravity and perspective continually changes as you navigate. Objects in space have their own gravity, pulling you down as you draw close. Perspectives and controls will change depending on which pole you vault towards; one moment you could be running over one moon and the next you running upside down on another platform. Finding it both surreal and relaxing, “Perfect Moon” was my favorite pick of the bunch.

“Moon Life” is about controlling an bipedal alien life form using the analog control sticks for each leg. Movement is awkward but the goal is similar, collect enough items to complete the level. More frustrating than entertaining, just getting the creature to cooperate is monumental. fter thirty minutes of just trying to jump uniformly to the right, but hopping back to the left, I gave up. This format requires much more patience and while it wasn’t up to my tastes, I could still see how the added movement based challenges will appeal to some.

“Star Light” is highly similar to the classic arcade title Asteroids. While there is no shooting, you control a rocket ship and propel your vessel through obstacle courses.  Using inertia and the affect of gravitational pulls, you race for the 7 items needed to clear each level. While very simplistic, maneuvering efficiently will take a degree of practice. As you progress more objects and forces will clutter your path, requiring precise movements to earn the best completion ratings.

You want modes bruh? I'll give you modes..
You want modes bruh? I’ll give you modes..

I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the final category simply titled “Sports Day”. Unlike the other choices, within lies a buffet of mini arcade games. These sports based chapters offer a little more intensity and competition, with the option to play with friends locally or versus AI opponents. Deriving from the same physics based platforming, there are quite a few creative takes on modern sports at play here. Playing interplanetary volleyball over Saturn’s rings as a net is curiously entertaining — and I’m sure would have been Salvadore Dali’s preferred way to play. Golfing over an oasis in deep space is uncommon, but interesting. Opponents running up walls in any direction while tossing projectiles can get comical (and competitive) with other players in Perfect Universe’s version of dodgeball. Inertia based racing, soccer, and a whimsical balloon popping contest round out the activities within this area.

 

For the most part Perfect Universe is easy to pick up and play. Detailed tutorials and instructions for each game type are featured along with sample obstacle courses to familiarize yourself with the game. The game designers highly recommend using controllers, and I would strongly agree as keyboard control is cumbersome. Getting the hang of each game type takes seconds, but mastering the mid and late levels will require several attempts. Especially when trying to earn the best level rankings possible.

Sadly, I felt no incentive to go back and try for best scores in sections. Once it was completed I was satisfied, and moved on. As you would like to see, difficulty escalates slowly as you progress. However, a certain degree of repetition and duplicity rears it head. Granted, these levels are meant to relax as well as entertain, I definitely felt that “chill vibe” throughout. But especially when sitting through long stretches of Perfect Universe, I couldn’t help but feel disinterest. Fortunately, playing in short spurts always kept each experience light and enjoyable. 

I jump, therefore I am...
I jump, therefore I am…

Perfect Universe offers much more than one would expect from a small indie arcade platform release. It has plenty of value: offering as nine similar yet distinct games in one purchase, with numerous maps for each game type. This game is welcoming, challenging you to beat it’s more complex space-y designs, while simultaneously prompting you to kick off your shoes and relax with it’s amiable aesthetics. Perfect Universe goes on sale today on Steam and their official site.

STEAM Excalibur Games

Perfect Universe Score

Perfect Universe - Score - 7

7

Chillax

Minimal but utterly charming aesthetics frame a simplistic and not overtly complicated arcade platformer. Enjoyable in spurts, and inducing relaxation this budget title has a lot to offer casual gamers and puzzle-platformer fans.