Perfect Universe by Indie Developer Will Sykes Games is this weeks deployment onto my Ps4. From the title I was not sure what to expect; a universe where Arsenal FC play consistently enough to win the Premier League? A day where Donald Trump’s latest antics aren’t plastered across my news feed? Unfortunately only one of these can probably happen (Arsenal winning the Premiership) however Perfect Universe is actually a cool collection of 9 mini games that are based around physics and gravity.
With a hand-drawn concept to the monochrome comic book graphics all rendered on a parchment style background, Perfect Universe may not sound like a stand out game however it is surprisingly addictive and fun to play. There are 9 mini games, of which 3 are single player and the other 6 multiplayer, so there is something for everyone whether you are playing on your own or alongside friends and family.
The opening menu allows you to select from games such as Perfect Moon, Moon Life and Star Light with a further option to access the multiplayer games (up to 4 players locally) via Sports Day. So what are these games about I hear you ask?
Perfect Moon is a classic platform based challenge set against the clock where you must run, glide and teleport through the moon themed level to collect gems. Moon Life allows you to take control of a curious alien called “Mr Legs” whose movement has been cleverly thought through to make use of the left and right shoulder buttons in order to navigate obstacles by climbing. Although this can be difficult at first to master, you will be soon pulling off awesome jumps and grabs as you collect leaves to complete the level. Last of the single player modes is Starlight. Here you race around the arena in a rocket to collect sticks of dynamite while avoiding hazards such as spinning blades and trying to set a personal best with regards to time. I particularly enjoyed the Asteroid level as it reminded me of an Atari Classic funnily enough called “Asteroids” as I floated around avoiding the incoming rocks and overcooking the thrusters somewhat only to splat me into the path of one of them. Depending on the time it takes for completion, the level awards you out of 3 stars, gems, leaves.
Having played through the single player games it was time to check out the multiplayer mini games under Sports Day.
Gravity dodge is pretty much dodgeball with the twist of low gravity. Each player starts with 3 balls that you can aim and throw at the others in an attempt to score a hit. Power-ups such as the ability to run and leap further as well as a shield keep you on your toes as balls begin flying about everywhere. The arenas are of a 360 degree nature whereby you can leap and run about all over the place making this mini game very frantic and enjoyable, especially when chasing each other about.
Rocket ball is a 2D version of Rocket League where both teams fly about the arena floor in rockets while trying to coax the ball into their opponents goal. Controlling the thrust of the rockets can be a little tricky as the rockets tend to glide effortlessly past the intended ball at times.
Balloon Pop, like it sounds, is a game whereby you compete to pop the most balloons. Featuring good ol’ Mr Legs, the multiplayer side is great fun as you try and jump the highest in the rotating arena to pop the slowly descending orbs.
Moon Valley is a take on volleyball where 2 teams play on a small moon, the two halves separated by a net. Teams score points by successfully getting the ball to hit the opponents side of the moon. Jumping and aiming take a little getting used to as your player can run about their side of the moon, allowing for shots to be played from both hemispheres!
One of our favourite mini games was Moon Golf which features a number of 9 hole courses, playable upto 4 players. Golf courses such as grassy plains are a simple 3 par affair where any over hit will land you in the surrounding water however “Hole on the Moon” makes you think a lot more about your shot as the course is set on a small grassy moon and involves you hitting your golf ball into an orbit to reach the hole. My children quickly adapted to the game play and did show me up slightly, laughing as with each putt I steadily put myself further and further from the flag! there is certainly a lot of variation in the courses to keep interest as the levels get more and more involved. One level saw the end hole on its own moon that required you to successfully play a shot that navigated each of the nearby moons while trying to use their own gravitational pull to your advantage. It was very easy to play a great shot and then on your second to basically end up where you first started!
Finally there is Space Race. Rockets from the earlier rocket ball game navigate a track whilst bumping from the track walls and each other in an attempt to be the first to complete 3 laps. The top down view reminded me of MicroMachines however there are not any power-ups, it is just a pure race. There are 4 tracks to choose from, each with their own unique straights and corners. My children enjoyed the space race however struggled with the control of the rockets. Of course being a father I took advantage of this and totally whooped them making up for my poor moon golf result!
Overall the games may seem small however the ingenuity of the levels coupled with the physics and gravity mechanisms certainly test your reactions. The competition between other players, especially in Moon Golf made Perfect Universe an excellent party game!
The monochrome sprites and landscapes may seem a little bland to some however the smoothness of the animations and the depth of the landscapes are certainly at the forefront of Perfect Universe. I was expecting my children to moan about the lack of colour however not one comment was made by either of them. There is something very satisfying about the visuals when playing the mini games, its all just so clean and tidy.
A delightful piano soundtrack accompanies the intro to Perfect Universe while each of the mini games have their own theme tune during game setup. During gameplay they all share a background theme of warbling ambience and crescendos that help create the idea of a vast emptiness filled with just the objects that you can see. The sound effects during gameplay reminded me of games that I used to play with my dad on the Atari. A simple thwack when the golf club hits the ball in moon golf for instance and a couple of drum beats as the ball hits the ground reminded me of the sound effects from the classic Sensible Soccer, simple but effective. There are certainly no annoying sounds here unlike some games that I have played.
Having played through Perfect Universe a few times now, on a mission to score 3 out of 3 on each level (and beat the kids), I can see this game being one that you would come back to, especially for the multiplayer side. The moon golf has been a huge hit here, we haven’t got another game like it however we are constantly returning for a quick 9 holes across the varied courses. Gravity Dodge is a great laugh too as with 4 players it is so manic with balls flying about everywhere, you really need to be quick at reacting.
I personally am a huge advocate for local multiplayer games as I have a fairly large family, therefore keeping them all entertained is top of my priorities. To see my children laughing and getting along (something that doesn’t always happen simultaneously!) gives me great pleasure and I have seen this while playing Perfect Universe.
I award Perfect Universe a golden thumbs up with 8/10.
Perfect Universe is available right now on Playstation 4 and PC via Steam.