Rarely will you ever play a game so charming, so human, so concise that you’re moved by mere paragraphs. Jettomero: Hero of the Universe is a poem straight from the collection of Lord Byron. And despite the very real human toll, Jettomero is an enchanting adventure.
Have you ever tried so hard to help someone, but only ended up hurting them? Jettomero understands. Have you ever stayed up late at night, sitting on the edge of your bed, wondering what your purpose in life is? Jettomero understands. Have you ever wanted something so strongly that you would do most anything to make it happen? Jettomero understands. Have you ever killed thousands of people in a misguided quest to be humanity’s greatest hero? Jettomero understands that too.
Jettomero is a moon-sized robot of infinite good nature who awakens one day on an empty and lonely planet. Pricked by the needle of a very human quest, Jettomero sets out to discover the purpose of his existence. And after slaying one monster and crushing a whole mess of cities, it keys into something–Jettomero is meant to be the savior of humanity!
So the player dispels storms, extinguishes forest fires, vanquishes giant monsters (a la Godzilla), scours the rubble of fallen buildings for survivors, and even topples burning buildings . . . Okay, so that last one’s not great, but no giant robo is perfect, right?
And just like Godzilla, it seems to be hard for the humans to tell if Jettomero is friend or foe. But, ever the optimist, Jettomero lumbers apologetically down city streets, right through pipelines, and over undoubtedly occupied homes. Luckily for Jettomero, the human’s puny weapons cannot harm him, so his only true challenges are the giant monsters he meets in each solar system.
You engage with each combat scenario with a quick time button sequence that seems to power Jettomero’s eye lasers. After so many successful sequences, the player will succeed in destroying the monster. And Jettomero will feel that much closer to his goal of protecting the universe. Also with each win, comes a coded message that you can choose to decipher with the help of a decoder. The ciphers, once broken, reveal the events that led to the humans’ eventual colonization of the universe and how Jettomero might fit into the puzzle. A very human story unfolds through Jettomero’s interactions with this information, one that is both heart-breaking and inspiring.
Seriously. I reviewed Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star in August. And Jettomero: Hero of the Universe tells a story in one tenth of the time and hits you with way more feels.
Let’s talk setting. Jettomero rockets from procedurally generated planet to procedurally generated planet exploring and squashing any threat to humanity it sees. Every planet, every sun, every moon, comet, and city will look different. Every time. Comic books heavily influenced the art style, so bright color and dynamic contrast saturate the whole of the universe. It’s a truly exciting time to be an eye. There is even an in-game photo mode so you can capture your favorite views and even apply filters. It’s a like a giant robo selfie.
And the music. And. The. Music. Even without the game, it could stand to be a very successful album. 17 tracks and 80 minutes of head-bobbin’, body rockin’ electronica drown out the screams of the dying masses, so be sure to keep those beats bumpin’. Ya know, for your own mental health. It’s worth your time to bounce from planet to planet like the universe is your own personal playlist. Try studying to it. Your friends will think you’re cool stuff for playing games all night before the big test. But only you will know the truth.
Otherwise, the Universe is full of buried robot parts for you to dig up and equip. It’s all superficial, but you sure can make Jettomero look like one slick robo. Unfortunately, once you’ve become the hero you think you need to be and as fancy as you want to be, there’s not much else. Sure, you can jet around listening to rad jams, snapping selfies, and fighting the occasional monster, but it’ll amount to little more than tickling yourself. The gameplay is generally repetitive, broken by the occasional quick-time monster fight, and nothing about its mechanics are necessarily ground-breaking. But it’s charm truly transcends its technical aspects, like spoken word poetry. Or like playing Super Mario Bros. 3 today.
That’s it. It’s Lord Byron performing spoken word poetry at a dance club.
Ultimately, I understand. Poems are concise and packed with meaning. It is their nature. It did leave me yearning for more nuance within the story, something to prolong it without muddling the theme. Perhaps it’s the first in a series. Who knows? Poets do that.
All-in-all, it’s an impressive undertaking for one man, so many thanks go out to Mr. Koenig for his hard work on this beautiful and multi-faceted piece of art. It’s a lovely little story, and it’s worth your time. Pick up Jettomero: Hero of the Universe for Steam here or for Xbox One here. And consider grabbing the OST while you’re at it.
An Xbox One Review copy of Jettomero: Hero of the Universe was provided by Ghost Time Games for the purpose of this review