After the success of Accounting+ on PSVR, Justin Roiland (co-creator of the wildly popular cartoon Rick and Morty) and the team at Squanch Games are back with another hilarious VR experience. In Trover Saves The Universe, your two dogs have been stolen by a nefarious being who has jammed them into his eye sockets—becoming incredibly powerful in the process—with the intention of destroying everything in existence. It’s up to you and Trover, a timid purple eye hole monster, to rescue your dogs and save the universe from destruction.
Trover Saves The Universe is a relatively simple 3D puzzle platformer with light action combat sections. You play as a member of the Chairopian race, people who are confined to a chair. Because the game can be played entirely in VR, this is a clever way to make you feel like you are part of the experience, instead of just watching everything from above. The game opens up in the main character’s living room in front of his television. Two characters are arguing on-screen about how to rotate their chair. You’ll very quickly realize that this television show is actually the game’s tutorial, and the characters are arguing about the various controls as you become acclimated to the game. I was so engaged in their conversation that I almost didn’t realize I was already playing the game, a true testament to how ingenious Roiland and his team are with the decisions they made. This is simply a taste of what’s to come in Trover Saves The Universe.
You’re introduced to Trover moments after beginning your adventure, who is voiced by Roiland, and sounds identical to the main character Morty from Rick and Morty. It was difficult to separate these two characters, as their voice and overall apprehensive personality are extremely similar. You control Trover remotely from your chair during your adventure, moving between various warp nodes to advance your character. Trover is equipped with a lightsaber-like baton that he can bash enemies with, as well as simple platforming abilities. As you explore the different worlds together, there are optional green Power Babies that are hidden throughout the levels. Finding and collecting these give you something additional to look out for, but also gives Trover more hit points in battle when enough are collected.
As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock a variety of upgrades for Trover and the Chairopian himself. Trover gains new abilities by jamming different-colored Power Babies in his eyes, upgrading his arsenal of available moves. Early on, you gain the ability to dodge roll around enemies, a move that’s better suited for a game like Dark Souls, and ends up feeling a bit underutilized in this game. Trover also gains a double jump, which is imperative for platforming around the different worlds and finding secrets. The Chairopian also gets abilities, like being able to toggle between different heights. This is critical for puzzle-solving, but also extremely helpful during combat, as you get more of a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in the world. Later on, you’ll receive the ability to remotely grab and move objects, and eventually grab objects to throw at enemies, assisting Trover in battle. This unique mechanic is introduced rather late in the game—which is a shame—as this ability really made combat feel great. Unfortunately, you only get to experience it for such a minimal portion of the game.
At the core of Trover Saves The Universe is the hilariously written dialogue by Roiland and Co. If you’re familiar with Rick and Morty, then you know his comedic style often relies heavily on improvisation. This same comedy style dominates the majority of this game, with a number of phallic and poop-related jokes thrown in for good measure. Dialogue between the characters is dynamic, meaning you could walk away from a character and they would acknowledge your departure, while continuing to ramble about whatever it is they were talking about. If you choose to return, they welcome you back, and pick up where they left off during your conversation. There are a number of yes or no questions you’ll be asked along the way, which you can choose to respond to by shaking your head yes or no in the VR headset, with dialogue changing based on your response. It never feels like you are just watching characters interact with one another, but actually part of the conversation, heightening the overall sense of immersion. Even though the overall story can be played through in around four hours, there are over 20 hours of spoken dialogue according to the studio’s head, Tanya Watson.
While the game is crammed full of jokes and cleverly written dialogue, it felt all too familiar, like an episode of Rick and Morty. The game never felt truly original, instead living in the shadows of the more popular franchise. Voices were too identical, as well, with the protagonist sounding just like Morty, and the majority of the enemies encountered sounding like Rick. It’s a game that suffers to really find its own identity. It would have been great to see Roiland step more outside of his comfort zone and create some new characters to really set this franchise apart, instead of leaning too heavily on his golden goose.
Graphically, the game is colorful and looks fantastic in VR. Each world has a unique palette of colors and obscure alien flora and fauna surrounding you. The stylized, cartoonish nature of the characters and world feel right at home. Character design is pretty limited, with each of them resembling some sort of humanoid amoeba, opting for a single, full-body color. Backgrounds are detailed as well as you look around the various worlds, with sprawling mountains and cliffs, to castles and cities, and more. Even the telepod that you use to travel between worlds has a good amount of detail and atmosphere. Overall, the art style is interesting, and definitely feels unique in its own right, instead of the typical biomes you travel through in most modern games.
The game’s original soundtrack includes a number of tracks that fit nicely with the atmosphere. Some levels feature a bit more ambient music, while others have a more synthy sound in nature. They all have an underlying futuristic or interstellar sound to them, though, and never get in the way of the dialogue. Each area has unique battle music, as well, that changes when entering into combat with different enemies. The standout sound design is definitely within all the spoken dialogue, however, as it is very, very funny.
Overall, Trover Saves The Universe is a charming platforming adventure filled with simple puzzles, straightforward combat, and hilarious dialogue primarily performed by Justin Roiland himself. The gameplay is fun, and worlds never feel like they’ve overstayed their welcome. What does get a bit old, however, is Roiland’s ubiquitous comedy style, which is heavily influenced by his television show, Rick and Morty. The game feels like a spinoff of the series, and doesn’t really make any strides to set itself apart, even down to the bizarre worlds and characters. Squanch Games recently announced the game would be receiving fun side adventures in the form of free DLC packs in the future, so there’s content to look forward to even after completing the main story. With 130 unique green Power Babies to collect in total, there’s a great incentive for players to explore the colorful worlds, and give the game some replayability for completionists. There’s a good, solid four-hour campaign here—playable with or without VR—and if you’re a fan of Roiland’s work, you’ll definitely get schwifty with this one.
Trover Saves The Universe is available now on PSVR, PS4, and PC. A review copy of the game was provided by Squanch