The Universim Preview: Playing God

by Kaesiya
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Having started out as a Kickstarter project in early 2014, The Universim is a long-awaited God simulator that puts the welfare of it’s lonely planet in your very own hands. Maniacal overlord or trusted peacekeeper? Pull all the strings to steer your civilization in any direction you choose.

The Universim

From humble beginnings with Adahy and Elu – the cardinal citizens that go on to populate the globe – to a futuristic utopia where nuggets (tiny humanoids, not tasty snacks) might one day explore the stars themselves. They need your guidance to get there, though.

Creator points are accrued based on how much your civilization believe in your existence. These can then be used to help or hinder your society in a multitude of ways. Whether it be changing the season in the blink of an eye, or causing armageddon by releasing fiery destruction on your poor, unsuspecting civilians.

There are a lot of small details in the gameplay that make The Universim so immersive. Birds and butterflies populate the skies, while mammoths, deer and foxes saunter across the landscapes; dandelion seeds and butterflies drift by in the summer breeze. Whilst this may all seem wonderful – change is inevitable, and occasionally your serene society may be exposed to outbreaks of infections, natural disasters or alien visits.

Cutting down trees has disastrous consequences, causing global temperatures to skyrocket in the summer or plummet in the winter. This also has a knock on effect to the climate in general and cataclysmic natural disasters can occur more frequently. Not only this, but overfishing and lack of trees can cause oceans and lakes to disappear. This cause and effect plays a massive role in how the ecosystem is interconnected making the simulation feel much more organic.

The tech tree consists of various adaptations to improve the lives of your citizens and to help it flourish into an established society. Currently, this system is quite linear with almost everything needing to be utilised in order to progess in the modern age and beyond. Some options require you to choose one path – such as which energy you want to use – locking the other options from gameplay.

This has a big impact on your society, as choosing green energy is slightly more inefficient but has a positive effect on the environment, whereas using nuclear energy causes more smog and has a larger negative impact on the environment. Or you know, you can always go down the kinetic route and have your nuggets run on hamster wheels to generate power – I won’t judge.

In the later game, once you’ve unlocked ministers of various governmental sects, your nuggets will become autonomous and build required resources automatically. This helps to reduce finicky micro-management so that you, the omnipotent one, can focus on more pressing matters.

Other societies will spawn across the planet giving you the ability to trade with your neighbours. This is an area that needs a little tweaking in order to feel more refined – as you cannot accept a trade deal straight away. Although by trading with your neighbours you are able to foster better relationships. Unless you decide to decimate them, that is.

Finding this WANTED poster after my earlier experience was pure gold.

It is apparent that The Universim doesn’t take itself too seriously and this helps to inject further life into the gameplay. The narration is spot on in tone and signs and loading screens hold a treasure trove of humorous anecdotes. One event that sticks out is where a portal appeared out of nowhere and I watched as Rick and Morty-esque nuggets spring out and have an exchange with eachother before re-opening the portal and absconding.

The Universim has been available via Steam early access since 2018. During this time, Crytivo have been constantly developing the content – giving frequent feedback to their Kickstarter backers along the way. The next update is due in February with a space update in the pipeline; where your civilisation can transcend their earthly comforts to go where no nugget has ever set foot before.

It is likely that the Space Age will become a large feature in future updates as mechanics and ideas are already being touted on The Universim‘s website. This will include things such as building rockets to colonize other planets in the solar system; building rovers and drones in order to utilise the resources of other ecosystems; and coming in to contact with alien life forms. This will increase longevity of the gameplay and make it much more of an adventure.

The Universim – Is it worth it?

It’s been a long time since the heyday of the god-simulator genre and The Universim is right at the top of its class. In its current state, it is well worth the money invested – It’s quite easy to get unintentionally sucked in for half of the day. Crytivo have put a lot of effort into the development so far and there is a lot planned for the future.

The Universim offers an intuitive and throughly delightful experience that both genre novices and seasoned veterans will enjoy.

The Universim is available now on Linux, Mac and PC. You can view the game on Steam here. Click here for further reviews and game previews from Fullsync.

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