Perfect Universe Review
Sony PlayStation 4
Take a gander through the PlayStation Store and you’ll discover hundreds of indie titles, some memorable, some less so. Perfect Universe falls somewhere between the two. Developed by Will Sykes Games and published by Excalibur Games, Perfect Universe is a collection of nine short minigames that defy the laws of gravity in an occasionally pleasing, but ultimately lacklustre package.
The first three minigames are single player-based, and see you taking control of a human, alien and rocket as you play through a series of increasingly difficult gravity-defying levels, where your ultimate goal is to collect a series of treasures as quickly as possible. Perfect Moon is the first of these minigames - and certainly the stand out - where you control a human as you jump and glide your way across levels collecting diamonds. Initially, the first few stages involve simple jumping and bouncing, but they soon become increasingly fraught with danger and require you to think outside the laws of gravity to succeed. The faster you complete the levels, the better your star rating (one to three) at the end, and the more stars you collect, the more new levels you’ll unlock.
Moon Life is the second minigame and puts you in control of an alien-like being. The difference this time is that you can only control the creature’s legs using the analogue sticks in a circular motion, with each one controlling a different leg. The goal here is the same as Perfect Moon, but instead of diamonds, you’re collecting leaves. Unfortunately, Moon Life is spoiled by some of the most uncomfortable and unresponsive controls we’ve ever experienced; we literally spent over an hour trying to get through the first few levels of Moon Life as a result. If you have the time to master the controls, you’ll find Moon Life an enjoyable experience, however, as Perfect Universe is marketed as a collection of pick up and play minigames, it’s hard to imagine most players investing the time.
The third and final single-player entry is Star Light, and here you control a rocket which suffers from a serious case of inertia. Star Light involves collecting fireworks as quickly as possible, but, like the alien in Moon Life, the rocket is nigh on impossible to control without hours of frustration and practice. Be warned, holding down the thrust button will send you soaring into the walls; all that’s really needed here is a little dab of thrust and a slight movement of the analogue stick.
Despite the fact star ratings be awarded after the completion of each level, Perfect Universe never really encourages you to come back and better your score or time. There are no additional rewards for increasing your star rating, or even online leaderboards, so, once you’ve unlocked new levels, there’s no incentive to replay.
In addition to the three main single-player minigames, Perfect Universe also offers a collection of sports games where you can face off against AIs or up to three friends in local co-op. These include gravity-defying takes on more traditional sports such as golf, dodgeball and volleyball, but there’s also a balloon-popping title, a game where you race rockets around a track, and rocket football. The latter two are the standouts here, and while enjoyable for a short time, you’ll soon find yourself yearning for the likes of Mario Kart, WipEout and Rocket League, which these two minigames are, on a basic level, heavily influenced by.
Local co-op multiplayer is a rarity in today’s gaming market, and developers Will Sykes Games should be praised for allowing us to play with friends in the comfort of our own homes. Ultimately though, they appear to have missed a golden opportunity by not including any form of online multiplayer, as the addition of online leaderboards in the single-player modes would have greatly enhanced the likelihood of us going back through to better our scores, while competitive online multiplayer for the sport minigames (especially Rocket Ball and Space Race which are tailor-made for it) would have added some much-needed longevity to games which get tiresome quickly when playing solely against AIs.
Perfect Universe may not be the best minigame package, but it’s certainly one of the most relaxing. The black-and-white sketch design is beautiful, and it’s worth persevering through the difficulty spikes and uncomfortable controls just to see the aesthetic of the next stage, while the soundtrack perfectly nails the anti-gravity, space theme of the game. Make sure you’ve left a few lights on if you’re playing the title late at night as the music could easily sooth you to sleep.
Striking graphics and an atmospheric soundtrack aside, Perfect Universe is a relatively monotonous collection of party minigames that suffer from infuriatingly complex controls, and offer little in the way of prolonged enjoyment or reward.