Jettomero: Hero of the Universe joins a small collection of PlayStation 4 games that focus on explorative playfulness above all else. Titles such as Grow Home, Hohokum, or Everything are chilled out, easy going experiences, and this little game about a giant, clumsy robot treads similar territory. However, we're not sure it offers quite as much as any of those games, as entertaining as it is.
You play as the titular mech as it begins a journey of self discovery across the cosmos. Waking up alone with no memory, it decides to make saving humanity its mission, piecing together its origins along the way. You'll be jumping through wormholes, stomping around planets, and battling big bad guys.
The first thing you'll notice about Jettomero is its presentation. The cel-shaded graphics and the white border give the impression of a stylish comic book panel, and it looks great, although framerate issues do occur fairly frequently. There's even a surprisingly good photo mode, so you can take some pretty impressive shots of your robot pal and his misadventures. The soundtrack works well, too, providing a laid back vibe with its low tempo electronic tunes.
Controlling Jettomero is a bit of an overstatement. By design, the robot's movements are awkward, with procedural animation lending the character a drunken, cumbersome feel. You're supposed to be saving the human colonies that populate each planetoid, but the cruel irony is that you'll likely spend more time knocking over buildings and kicking down trees. Again, this is part of the game, and there are no penalties for causing havoc, so you can meander around freely.
There are occasionally fires to put out or storms to clear, but the act of saving people is largely performed by defeating huge creatures threatening each solar system. These encounters are essentially QTEs, tasking you with completing several button sequences to overpower the enemy and blow them to smithereens. It's underwhelming, especially as you do actually have some tactile control of Jettomero's arms and legs. If this had been fleshed out to incorporate some rudimentary punches and kicks, we feel that these scenarios would be a bit more satisfying.
Once you do beat one of these beasts, you're treated to a jumbled up message that, when decrypted, will unveil the next story segment. You do this by turning several dials that affect a selection of letters at once. Controls here can be frustratingly fiddly, and the puzzles aren't exactly challenging, but it's a welcome change of pace, and a good way to incorporate the short, simple story.
One of our bigger problems with the game comes when you're flying around in space. For whatever reason, we struggled to line up with asteroids (which provide fuel) or yellow rocks. The controls here are fluid and easy to grasp, but it was difficult to discern how far away objects were from the character. This proved particularly problematic when we would hit a yellow rock and attempt to fly through all the rings it creates, which is much more difficult than it should be. Navigating through space works fine for the most part, but it's a shame that it can feel so imprecise at times.
However, there's very little to actually do or find in Jettomero, and this is where it ultimately falls down. Smashing around on planets and flying around in space is fun for a while, but once you see the game through to the end of the story, there's very little reason to dive back in. There are a number of collectibles to find; red antennae embedded in the ground unlock new cosmetic parts for your robot companion, which is nice, but once you have them all and the story has wrapped up, it's pretty barren. Unless you particularly enjoy the act of accidentally-on-purpose destroying humanity's numerous settlements (and Jettomero's cute, apologetic comments), you won't be playing this for longer than a couple of hours.
Jettomero looks and sounds great, and entertains for a few hours, but it's a little too shallow for us to wholeheartedly recommend. Stomping around as a big, clumsy robot is fun, however, and we enjoy the game's relaxed atmosphere. The lack of content, some control issues, and performance problems hold back Jettomero from meeting its potential, and the result is an experience that's quite throwaway, despite its charms.
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