Close

Login

Close

Register

Close

Lost Password

Associated with:

The Universim Review: Ultimate Cosmic Power, Teenie Tiny Nuggets

There’s been no shortage of city-building games over the past couple of years, especially with big releases such as Cities Skylines 2, Farthest Frontier, and a huge list of other city builders, there’s been plenty to keep that city-building itch at bay.

The Universim is a city builder, strategy game, and god simulator all rolled into one, much like the 90’s hit game Populous: The Beginning. While there have been multiple games that clearly draw inspiration from Populous, The Universim is one of the closest to the real thing I have experienced to date.

While The Universim might not be as well known as some of the recent city builders to have graced our screens, Crytivo Games has managed to pull off an impressively well-balanced and addictive game that is frankly much better than it has any right to be.

The Universim Gameplay

Starting out in The Universim is a little slow, with only a couple of villagers, also known as Nuggets, and the ability to build just a handful of primitive buildings, it takes a little while before things really get going. But once they do, it’s worth the wait.

At the start, the game’s main focus is on building, expanding, and unlocking new technologies to progress your Nuggets throughout the ages. There are a range of god powers you can wield, but I found myself ignoring those at the start of the game and instead focusing on pushing expansion as much as possible.

As is the case with most city-building games, there are plenty of resources that you need to collect and manage, but thankfully, The Universim has managed to balance this just right, at times I had to quickly plan new resource-gathering buildings as one of my resources dipped in stock, but at no point did I feel completely overwhelmed by the resource management system as I have done in other similar games.

Food and water are some of the most difficult resources to keep in steady supply in The Universim, while they’re not so much a problem at the start of the game, environmental issues can impact the amount of water in lakes, or the reproduction rate of fish, causing you to take godly action to restore the ecological balance before your Nuggets pay the price for their own negligence.

During the later stages of the game, I even found myself having to deal with polluted rain clouds, which were spreading pollution and sickness all over my city, causing a shortage of clean food and water.

There are some other options for food, such as the farm, but sadly you only start the game with a single type of seed, leaving you to find and unlock more seeds in The Universim before you can grow more food.

The Universim’s Environmental Focus

As is the case in life, as a city grows in The Universim so too do its negative impacts, such as environmental damage and crime. Ultimately, you want to push your Nuggets to expand and grow, helping them to achieve new technological advances, but in doing so, you will also have to face both the criminal and environmental impact of growth.

Thankfully, this is where your god powers come in useful, using your godly powers to force rain clouds over polluted lakes can not only help clear up the pollution, but it can also increase the lake’s water levels, helping to keep more fish spawning.

Trees are another resource you need to manage in The Universim, of course, the more your city grows, the less space there is for trees and wildlife, impacting the amount of animals that can be hunted in the area, as well as having a much bigger impact on the planet.

Thankfully, there’s a god power for planting trees too, which you can use to keep the planet’s total tree count up to an acceptable level, although, that does become increasingly more difficult as you start to take up precious space on your planet. But fear not, before long, your Nuggets will invent space travel and start working towards destroying… I mean colonizing other planets.

It looks Weirdly Good

On first look, The Universim’s graphics look a little basic, almost as if they were designed for a mobile game. It’s not until you look closer at the finer details that you start to realize that this is something that’s been done on purpose.

The game shows a stark contrast between fresh areas and heavily polluted ones. The game starts out in vibrant colors, which carry on throughout the ages, but quickly becomes a dark, dull, and frankly depressing shade of green when pollution starts to become an issue.

Once your Nuggets start building upwards, you quickly notice wonky buildings, something which at first glance I thought was a graphical bug, but then quickly realized was simply showing that without divine help, Nuggets are idiots. Of course, the game could have featured pixel-perfect straight towering buildings, but let’s be honest, that’s not as fun is it?

There’s something incredibly charming about the game’s imperfect designs, the low poly count textures, and buildings that look like they could fall over at a moment’s notice. I’ve played enough city-builders where I’m striving for the perfect city, letting the Nuggets build their own buildings and watching the chaos that ensued was somehow more satisfying.

Crush Thine Enemies

There are two types of enemies in The Universim, the Exiles, who are AI-controlled settlements of Nuggets that you can either trade with, or destroy, and the aliens, who are frankly much more challenging than the Exiles.

Of the two, the aliens gave me much more of a challenge, with multiple UFOs attacking my city throughout the game, and a giant boss fight that towered above all my buildings, there’s an element of strategy required when playing The Universim to make sure your empire doesn’t come tumbling down when facing an enemy.

My biggest issue with enemies in The Universim was the Exiles. While you can choose to ignore them, or trade with them, rather than destroying them altogether, I found myself having to tidy up after their pollution, making destroying them the only sensible option.

The issue is that they’re just too easy to defeat. While I was waging a war and outnumbered two to one, taking them both on one by one was extremely easy, and something I managed to do within 20 minutes. As long as you have a smooth production chain going and steady resources coming in, it’s all a little too easy to amass an army and wipe them out. And of course, if your army needs a little divine intervention, you have good powers such as meteors and volcanoes to assist you in wreaking havoc upon their eco-wrecking community.

Although using your god powers might make the fight a little unfair, it’s undeniable that it makes it a whole lot more fun, as you watch their little Nuggets flee in fear from the natural disaster you’ve unleashed upon them.

Final Thoughts

In a year that has been saturated with city-builder games, The Universim does everything right to stand out from the crowd. It’s an indie title that had me hooked in as much as any triple-a game I’ve played this year, possibly even more so than most other recent releases.

The Universim also manages to take pride in not taking itself too seriously, from the strange building designs to the borderline cheeky narrator, who rightfully mocks both the player and the Nuggets as the game progresses.

If you were around in the 90’s and you, like me have been looking for something to fill the void that Populous left behind, I can’t recommend The Universim enough. It’s a fun, addictive, and charming city-builder that takes a leaf out of all the right books and makes something that I’m honestly going to stop writing about now, so I can get back to playing it.

8.3
The Universim is an addictive city-builder, god simulator and strategy game all rolled up into one addictive package. Take your Nuggets through the ages, while managing their progression and trying not to impact the planet. But don't worry too much if you do, other planets await them.
Pros:
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Great visuals
  • Tons of god powers
  • Huge tech tree to unlock
Cons:
  • Exiles are too easy
Graphics
7.5
10
Gameplay
9
10
Longevity
8.5
10
Graphics
7.5
/10
Gameplay
9
/10
Longevity
8.5
/10

Share This Post

About The Author

Kegan eats, sleeps, and lives for gaming, from a young age he could be found playing his Amiga, during his teenage years he progressed to modding games, which later landed him several roles in the gaming industry. He co-founded unboxedreviews.com so he could find an excuse to play even more games.

Also Check Out

0
0
0

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Graphics
    0
    10
    Gameplay
    0
    10
    Longevity
    0
    10
    A mininum rating of 0 is required.
    Please give a rating.
    Thanks for submitting your rating!

    Thanks for submitting your comment!