Steam Game Festival 2021: UniDuni hands-on preview

From Studio Clops and the growing Brazilian indie game dev scene comes a look at a light-hearted co-op puzzle adventure that tries to please everyone, even non-gamers.

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UniDuni from Studio Clops is a new puzzle-platformer adventure title with a demo available for the Steam Games Festival. Cooperation is key in this chibi-looking retro romp coming out of the burgeoning Brazilian indie-game development circle. I played all of the first world available in the demo with a partner to experience the co-op puzzle solving as intended.

Awash in competent and bright pixel art, the cutesy look might not appeal to everyone, but it certainly won't offend. The titular characters, Uni and Duni sport an anime inspired look along with the rest of the cast of various animals, creatures, and monsters. It's a familiar style in indie games in recent years, but given the simple story and game design that is presented in the demo, it doesn't feel out of place. The main musical theme played on the start-up screen is instantly cheerful and inoffensive as the visual treatment. It's well-crafted and superbly arranged, but the music heard in-game leans more towards quality than quantity.

The pixel art in UniDuni is delightfully adorable.
The pixel art in UniDuni is delightfully adorable.

Opening up into a lush green mountain and forest backdrop, the starting village has lots of cute animal friends to converse with, each giving different responses to different players. This is a small but very nice touch in making the demo feel more polished. You quickly find a rotund famished pup blocking your progress who needs a snack in order for you to leave the village. This fetch quest introduces the basics with walking and jumping. That's all you have to worry about in UniDuni, player accessibility is their goal and it definitely shows. I think this is a great goal for enticing co-op partners that might not play video games often and getting them hooked in the process.

From here the puzzle-platforming begins with levels broken into single-screens with a number of guarana berries to collect. Proceeding quickly, collecting the berries, and minimizing player deaths is all necessary for achieving the medals for every puzzle. This should help seasoned gamers find some challenge in an otherwise relatively easy playthrough. Player deaths are nothing to worry about, however, with instant respawns for both your characters and any physics items needed for a solve that may plummet into a pit. By simply walking, jumping, and using your partner for a lift, you and a friend can learn to cooperate and progress quickly for those gold medals.

The single-screen puzzles in UniDuni can become a little complicated.
The single-screen puzzles in UniDuni can become a little complicated.

The puzzles become slightly more difficult on each screen, slowly adding interactive elements such as blocks to push, switches to press, cannons to fire, bouncy balls to bounce, and more. Timing is crucial on many stages with see-saws or cannons requiring your buddy to act with care, but failure is always a minor delay. Late stages in the demo start combining different interactive elements, making those perfect screen-clears a matter of optimized cooperation.

With the first world featuring ten levels of co-op fun, the UniDuni demo offers a good look at the puzzle-platformer from Studio Clops. The full game is set to have five worlds total with a nice variety of themes teased in the stage select. I'm eager to see how UniDuni shapes up as Clops Game Studio continues development in 2021. There is no current set release date, so the wait might be longer than shorter. UniDuni is sure to please cooperative puzzle lovers everywhere when it eventually launches on Steam.


This preview is based on a public Steam demo. The UniDuni demo is available now as part of the Steam Game Festival 2021 and is set to release TBA.

Contributing Editor

From the test launch of the NES in New York to 4K gaming in his living room, Bryan Lefler has been immersed in video games his entire life. Battle tested in the arena shooters of the turn of the century yet kind to all animals that may cross him, Bryan enjoys a breadth of games but strives to be the best in any contest of digital skill. He is a former esports competitor and has been part of the Shacknews community for over 15 years. You can also catch him on skankcore64 streams on the Shacknews Twitch channel where he plays through the N64 library.

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