My Little Universe review for PC, Nintendo Switch

Platform: PC
Also on: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: SayGames
Developer: Estoty
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

It’s no surprise that My Little Universe got its start as a mobile game (and a wildly successful one at that) before making the jump to Steam and the Switch. It looks and plays like the stereotype of a mobile game, with basic, repetitive gameplay that seems tailor-made for pushing players to spend as many extra dollars as the game can squeeze out of them

Which, of course, makes it all the more surprising when you realize that there’s not a lot of monetization going on here – at least not yet. While you can practically see all the places where an enterprising game might implement pay-to-win mechanics, so far the Steam version of My Little Universe features only two bits of DLC: a soundtrack and some Christmas skins. Given that the mobile version has been downloaded tens of millions of times and offers players plenty of other ways to spend cash, you have to assume that more DLC is on the way. But for now, I can’t criticize My Little Universe for that.

After all, there are other things to criticize the game for, the most obvious being that the game isn’t that interesting. While it sells itself on its Steam page as a big, epic adventure, the reality is that the bulk of your time in My Little Universe will be spent gathering resources. You build your world hexagon by hexagon, smashing away at constantly regrowing trees and rocks to gather more resources to build more hexagons. While the game gives you plenty of opportunities to upgrade your character and your gear to make gathering more effective (see what I mean about lots of untapped monetization potential?), the reality is that you’re constantly running back and forth between resource spaces and building spaces, hacking and tapping away until you’ve gathered enough resources to move forward one more space.

The good news is that your character automatically starts hacking away the moment anything comes within reach. Walk near a tree? You’ll start chopping. See rocks? Out comes the pickaxe. Enemy gets in your way? You’ll take out your sword and start hacking. It runs on a sort of autopilot, where you just have to direct your character and the game does the rest of the work.

As you can imagine, My Little Universe gets awfully grindy pretty quickly. You may get a bit of an immediate rush as the world starts unfolding before you, but whatever sense of discovery you have will quickly give way to tedium when you get into the endless loop of automatically gathering and building.

To be fair, if you want to turn your brain off and play a game in the background while you’re doing something else that requires more of your attention, I could see why you might be interested in My Little Universe. It’s a game that seems tailor-made for turning on and ignoring it even as you play, like a slightly more demanding clicker game.

But at the same time, I feel like if you’re spending money on a game – even if it’s just $10 or so – you should be expecting more out of it than simply, “I can play this while I do something else that’s more interesting.” My Little Universe is undoubtedly fine as a mindless mobile time-waster, but if you want anything beyond that, you should think about looking elsewhere.

SayGames provided us with a My Little Universe PC code for review purposes.

Score: 6.5