Conventions are always full of some great new VR experiences, but Squanch Games’ Trover Saves the Universe was where everyone wanted to be once they saw the hilarious adventure that Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland was showing off at PAX East 2019. The game had been announced back at E3 2018, but few people realized what it was about given the ambiguous trailer shown at Sony’s press conference. After their panel though, it was clear that this was looking like not just a funny, Rick and Morty styled adventure, but also a really cool VR game by itself, though you can always play in non-VR if you need to.
Trover Saves the Universe from its very opening moments feels like an extension of Roiland’s other work, especially Rick and Morty. The game walks you through its tutorial like a segment from Interdimensional Cable, with newscasters telling you what to do as part of a skit. If you don’t react in time, the dialogue keeps going on, making fun of how slow you are, etc. And of course, before this all even begins you have to decide whether you want the full “mature” version of the game, or the dopey censored one.
Thankfully, like Rick and Morty, Trover can get very mature very fast. The shits and fucks were flying fast as I sat in the expo hall, PSVR headset firmly attached to my stupid giggling face. But it’s not just being mature that makes Roiland’s comedy style so great, it’s his amazing improvisational skills that lead to hilarious moments that just don’t work in any other format. Playing this game felt like experiencing a piece of Justin Roiland’s mind, and it was great…but also a little unsettling.
The writing was exactly what you’d expect and at the high level of quality you’ve come to enjoy from this creator. The world of Trover is simply surreal and insane, and I loved every second of it in this demo. Even the simple fact that it’s a seated VR experience is hashed out within the game’s world, with you taking the role of a “Chairopian” whose dogs have been “dognapped” by Glorkon. Who is Glorkon? No idea, but he seems bad since he shoved your little dogs into his eyeholes and is using them for power, or something. So you know, that seems not cool to me.
Trover Saves the Universe feels like an extension of Roiland’s other work, especially Rick and Morty
The gameplay takes things from there with Trover Saves the Universe feeling very in line with what we’ve seen from this newer and more comprehensive wave of VR games. You play as your Chairopian self, but you control Trover as he walks around the world, solving puzzles and performing platform jumps or combat. There’s no free warping here, instead using warp nodes that you have to get Trover to before you can progress. You’ll do this with a gamepad in-hand on PSVR or just PS4 if you don’t have a headset. The game will also hit VR and non-VR for PC as well, so we’ll see how it handles there later. If you ask Justin Roiland though, he hopes Trover Saves the Universe will get you into VR.
There’s a lot of dialogue, and sticking around to listen to other characters pays off with lots of additional lines. There’s also more focused gameplay like we’ve seen from newer VR titles such as Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Rick and Morty VR. Fans of those titles should be paying very close attention to Trover Saves the Universe.
While Trover very much feels like it was built for VR, it’s also playable without it and seems to handle it just fine. I didn’t test it out, but you can pretty easily see how the team at Squanch took what worked in VR and adopted it to flat screens. The action/puzzle platforming style gameplay has done well in other games, and the VR trappings can just shift around a bit to accommodate.
It’s tough to explain why a game like Trover Saves the Universe works well, given its reliance on humor. I’m no Justin Roiland, and I’m not going to try. Basically, if you’ve enjoyed his other work, especially Rick and Morty, then this should be at or near the top of your to-play list when it arrives on PS4 and PSVR on May 31st and PC on June 4th.