Trover Saves the Universe Review
Rick and Morty VR was just the beginning
It seems that there is a decent amount of crossover between Rick and Morty fans and VR enthusiasts. Adult Swim’s massively successful animated show jumped into the VR gaming arena with its own spin on the Job Simulator formula. And now its co-creator Justin Roiland is launching a brand new and original VR title with Trover Saves the Universe. While it isn’t directly tied to Rick and Morty, it’s clear that Roiland’s style has transferred over both in terms of comedy and originality. But does the gameplay hold up? Was Roiland as serious about VR gaming as he seemed when we talked to him at PAX East? Yep. The game’s pretty great.
The story of Trover Saves the Universe is sort of tough to explain, because it’s such a fever dream of scifi concepts that feels almost improvisational in its execution. There’s a bad guy, he stole your dogs and is using them to power himself as he destroys the universe. You play as a Chairorpean, an alien creature whose somehow stuck in a floating chair, making for some solid immersion as you sit on your couch playing the game. The titular Trover contacts you to help save the universe from the big bad, letting you control him in a VR platforming adventure. Does that make sense? Not really, but in the game it all fits perfectly. This is a truly insane world where nothing really fits together, and due to that it somehow all fits.
In terms of gameplay, Trover Saves the Universe sits right alongside other highly regarded VR titles. It feels like a natural extension of the second and third wave of games we’ve seen where traditional mechanics are reworked to fit the VR space. Trover is a slow-paced action-platformer fitting closely with the excellent Astro Bot Rescue Mission on PSVR. Like that game you aren’t playing as the main character really. Your VR presence is worked into the game in interesting and creative ways, giving you a better feeling of immersion while offering more streamlined and straightforward platforming mechanics as you control Trover.
VR is an integral part of this. The game does let you play without a PSVR headset attached to your face, but the controls become unwieldy to the point that most will not find the experience enjoyable. With it on, you’ll feel like a true Chairorpean, sitting there as you teleport from warp node to warp node, which really helps cement the feeling of place that the best VR titles offer. The insane, colorful, vibrant worlds you visit only enhance this. Each new level is a treat for the eyes, though that variety never extends to the enemies you fight along the way.
This is Justin Roiland’s project, and his style is all over it.
Likewise, the combat in Trover is a bit bland. You only have a few select moves and enemies never require more than a few button mashes. Sure, ranged and shielded enemies offer up some tactical challenge, but rarely will you be concerned for Trover’s life. You begin the game with a decent amount of health already, and can gain more by collecting green “power babies” that are hidden throughout every map. Finding them is fun by itself, so you’ll still want to engage in this collectathon, but once you have a few extra health bars there isn’t much compelling you to hunt for more.
So that’s the gameplay, but you didn’t come to Trover Saves the Universe just for that. This is Justin Roiland’s project, and his style is all over it. Comedy may be one of the toughest things to review for others though, as everyone has their own tastes in that regard. What I can say is that I found many moments throughout this game to be absolutely hilarious. The improvisational style, in the vein of Rick and Morty’s Intergalactic Cable episodes, works for me and for this game. It can wear a little thin though, especially as the game’s story goes on and you notice just how often entire sequences are Justin talking to himself for long stretches of time.
For fans of his and his style that won’t be an issue at all. It wasn’t for me, but I can see how others could quickly grow tired of the pauses and stumbling words combined with weird phrases that are almost made up on the spot. If you can’t binge through episodes of Rick and Morty without getting tired of its style then you might want to avoid Trover. If you have rewatched the show countless times without losing interest, then you’ll want to jump on this right away. Its humor will hit you harder than you might even expect, giving you tons of hilarious moments and lines both from Justin Roiland voiced characters and others.
Where Trover Saves the Universe truly succeeds is in mixing its comedy with the gameplay, and how reactive it is to the player. There are entire sequences where the game feels like it’s messing with you in order to get a laugh. Usually it works on its own, but becomes even better when you start to mess with the game as well. Letting scenes linger while characters continue talking on and on about what you need to be doing or how annoyed they are with your inaction. Or jumping in and interrupting scenes that are meant to go on forever as the game reacts to this action as well. There must be hours and hours of extra recorded lines here, all to deal with players actions or specific non-actions, and the choices that are offered during the campaign. Although some additional lines could have been recorded for combat scenarios, where they tend to get repetitive quite quickly. Few games like this allow much replay, but Trover feels like it’ll require at least two playthroughs to understand and appreciate its full intricacy.
Trover Saves the Universe is a great addition to the PSVR lineup, offering some solid gameplay with a comedy flavoring that brings it to the next level. VR enthusiasts will find a lot to like here, though they might want to test their tastes to be sure they line up with Justin Roiland’s particular style. While the game offers non-VR players a chance to enjoy the fun, it’s tough to recommend that version due to janky and unconventional controls. If you have a VR headset though, this is definitely worth checking out.
Trover Saves the Universe
- Available On: PS4, PC
- Published By: Squanch Games
- Developed By: Squanch Games
- Genre: Action Platformer
- US Release Date: May 31st, 2019
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Trover Saves the Universe is a great addition to the PSVR lineup, offering some solid gameplay with a comedy flavoring that brings it to the next level."