It’s not easy being a giant robot with a body better suited to destroying planets than saving them, especially not when people react to your noble, monster-vaporizing efforts with bullets and lasers of their own. Jettomero, though, doesn’t really mind. He just wants to make sure everybody’s alright.
Jettomero: Hero of the Universe is a game where you play as a clumsy but largely indestructible robot who can fly through space, land on procedurally generated, Mario-Galaxy-esque planetoids, and “help” their tiny denizens by fighting monsters. In the process, you uncover backstory about a terrible tragedy that befell humanity. Also, you accidentally stumble into buildings and destroy them while apologizing profusely. Basically, it’s what No Man’s Sky should’ve been.
I kid, mostly, though I do really enjoy Jettomero’s serene mix of floating through space ala Bender in classic Futurama episode “Godfellas” and accidentally fucking up civilizations, also ala Bender in classic Futurama episode “Godfellas.” It’s all pretty straightforward, but the game’s visuals, soundtrack, and mechanical simplicity coalesce to draw you into a kind of meditative, blissed-out state.
Then you’ve got Jettomero himself, who’s a hero so good and pure that the whole damn universe doesn’t deserve him. I mean, look at this giant bucket of bolts and heart:
Here’s how he reacts upon finding out part of what happened to humanity in the past (while current humans are throwing their entire planet’s arsenal at him after he saved their lives from a giant monster):
Jettomero just wants to help, y’all. Why can’t you let him do that?
There’s a bit of combat in the game, but it’s not really “combat” in the traditional sense. Rather, you come face-to-face with massive space monsters and play tug-of-war with intertwining laser beams. You push enemies’ beams back by nailing fairly simple QTEs until your laser eventually hits them, and then they die. The game’s basic rhythm, then, is “fly to planet, explore, fight monster, read cool story-revealing comic book, repeat.” The game throws a few fun wrinkles in there, but it’s fairly repetitive. Luckily, it’s also not very long, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Combat, though a cornerstone of your progression through Jettomero’s galaxies, is not really the point of the game. Consider it flavoring. I saw somebody on Steam call Jettomero a “walking simulator for people who don’t like walking simulators,” and while that’s hyper-reductionist, there’s a bit of truth to it. Soaring through space and stomping clumsily about on planets both feel much more gratifying than walking down a hallway or whatever, but at the end of the day, you’re mostly exploring a series of spaces and uncovering a story piece-by-piece.
Jettomero himself, though, is the game’s heart, and his comments and reactions alone make this one worth the price of entry. He’s a bumbling bag of contradictions: wise yet naive, powerful yet barely able to stay on his own two feet, and heroic yet down-to-earth. Jettomero: Hero of the Universe is that rare sort of game that piles on the charm without feeling cloying. It’s less “look at how quirky I am” and more easy-going and good-natured. We can always use more games like that.
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