Jettomero: Hero of the Universe is a game where I’m not quite sure who the audience is supposed to be. Its low-detail, cartoonish look certainly evokes the assumption that this is a game for children, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of childish, family friendly games out there that are still fun for grizzled old violence-fiends like myself, but as much as I’d like to say otherwise, I won’t be counting Jettomero among them.
While I’m not the biggest fan of this particular visual aesthetic, it’s not the real problem here. The bigger issue is that there just isn’t much game here. You play as giant robot Jettomero, who wakes up a lone amnesiac on some strange moon. Your goal is to explore procedurally generated worlds (which is a bit misleading, considering that every planet and boss is still identical to every other one except for a randomly selected color palette or skin) in order to find fuel, unlock your memories, and maybe find some new spare parts (for cosmetic purposes only) in the process.
Along the way, the self-styled Hero of the Universe will inevitably end up crushing entire civilizations as he bumbles his way through the galaxy. You can try to avoid collateral damage, but you simply can’t escape it entirely. Eventually you’ll run into a situation where the only fuel or item for you to find is directly inside a group of innocent buildings or land on a planet in just the wrong place, causing a large explosion that instantly vaporizes everyone nearby. Jettomero offers a sheepish apology each time, establishing the core theme of the game, that he is just a big, goofy purveyor of accidental genocide, and I feel like these acts of casual mass destruction are supposed to be funny because of the way they contrast with the game’s title and Jettomero’s constant declarations of wanting to be a hero and all that, but there’s no actual comedy occurring beyond this basic irony, and so zero laughs ensued.
It doesn’t much matter either way, because there are no consequences of any kind for anything you do. Wiping out the entire population of a planet does nothing to hurt or help you. A planet might become aggressive and send attack ships at you, but you can’t do anything to them, and they can’t harm you at all. You just have to keep shambling along until you find the boss monster for the area, which is easily dispatched in a simple, recycled QTE sequence.
It all just feels so empty to me. This is a barely interactive tourist experience, which again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you need to have either a compelling character, compelling narrative, a charming atmosphere and/or visual design, or more preferably all of the above, and Jettomero just doesn’t have these things.
This game was created by means of a successful Kickstarter campaign though, so there must be an audience somewhere out there for it, right? Maybe I’m just not a part of that niche audience. Maybe I’m not the right person to be telling you about this one. I’m not entirely sure, so I decided to seek a second opinion. I asked my wife to give it a try, since I feel like she’s more of a fan of “cute” games like Scribblenauts and Doki-Doki Universe and etc.
During the first 15 minutes of play she said: “It’s relaxing and fun. There are no threats or danger, nothing for you to worry about. It’s not for people looking for action. There’s satisfying loot that you get to wear. The quicktime monster fights aren’t particularly fun though.”
After about 45 minutes: “This seemed like a good idea, but it’s not as well executed as it could be. It becomes very repetitive very quickly. Nothing you do matters and nothing really changes. Every planet is the same. The game is all about you choosing to be a hero, yet almost every action you take causes disaster for the population of the planet you land on.”
After 2 hours, by which point she had already completed the game and collected every single item: “It’s a game that had a good idea, but didn’t quite know what to do with it. It would probably only interest children for very long, yet the cipher puzzles between areas and the dark themes of mass death seem to contrast with that a great deal. The music was nice and it had some good moments, but it became boring pretty quickly. Though on the plus side, it only took 2 hours to complete 100%, so there wasn’t much time to be bored.”
So, as hesitant as I am to say bad things about a game that someone spent years of their life creating, I can’t seem to find anything particularly nice to say about this one, and when even someone more within the target demographic didn’t seem to find it fulfilling for more than 15 minutes, well, I just can’t recommend this game.
Jettomero: – Hero of the Universe is available now on Xbox One and Windows.
Disclosure statement: Review code for Jettomero – Hero of the Universe was provided by Ghost Time Games. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.