Trover Saves The Universe PSVR Review
Odds are good that most readers are aware of the hit TV show Rick and Morty. Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, the Adult Swim comedy series has received high acclaim and popularity, along with equal parts frustration due to the toxic subsection of the fan base that completely misses the intended characterization of its heavily flawed characters and instead resign themselves to public displays of embarrassment as they flop about the floor of a McDonalds to show off their best “Pickle Rick” impersonation.
Regardless, there’s no denying that the humor found in Rick and Morty is a unique mix of clever commentary and completely random (and likely fueled by various addictive substances) improvisation. Trover Saves the Universe, the newest insane thought bubble to burst out of the brain of co-creator Justin Roiland and his videogame studio Squanch Games, leans heavily into the latter side of comedy that turned Rick and Morty into a household name, assuredly creating the most insane VR gaming experience to date.
Attempting to make the premise of Trover Saves the Universe sound even remotely coherent would be a vast undertaking, but let’s just lay it all out: players assume the first-person role of an unnamed Chairopian, an alien race that permanently sits in floating chairs. While enjoying a pleasant stroll in the park with the Chairopian’s two lovable pet dogs, an evil eye-less monster named Glorkon steals the dogs and injects them into his eye holes, imbuing him with the power needed to take over the universe. Fortunately, the titular Trover soon appears, having been tasked by his superior to defeat Glorkon, and the two oddballs form a partnership that takes them across the galaxy to fight enemies, solve puzzles, obtain upgrades, and interact with a whole host of oddball characters and even odder situations. The usual videogame stuff, peppered with lots of self aware commentary and lots of naughty language that would even make South Park blush.
Though players view everything through the first person perspective of the Chairopian, they are also in direct control of Trover, who does the majority of the platforming and fighting throughout each area. Like many console VR games, navigation is done by moving from one glowing node to the other, which limits Trover’s control range as he has to be within a certain distance of his partner. The Chairopian also has certain exclusive abilities to assist Trover, such as elevating to higher viewpoints in order to get a better perspective of the world, while also interacting with various objects by pointing the controller at them. This includes interacting with switches out of Trover’s reach, arranging platforms for him to cross large gaps, and even assisting in battle against various foes such as Glorkon’s persistently chatty clones.
It is here where the review must include a disclaimer: if anyone reading does not enjoy or tolerate the level of humor found in Rick and Morty or other works by Justin Roiland, then this game is not for you. Trover Saves the Universe matches the chaotic randomness and tongue-biting social commentary of its predecessors beat-for-beat, and doesn’t spend a single second taking a breather. The game is chalk full of fully voiced dialog, much of it performed by Roiland himself, which means a lot of characters that are dead-ringers for Rick and Morty’s titular characters, including character designs. Nearly every single action (or inaction) by the player results in several minutes of dialog, from Trover’s increased frustration at players refusing to follow directions to NPCs uncomfortably revealing more of their personal kinks the more time goes on.
This also leads to several mini situations that can have different outcomes depending on the player’s actions (or once again, inactions): one character who offers an upgrade requests that the player eliminates nearby monsters that are affecting his business, but taking out the enemies in the nearest vicinity reveals that those were his trained pets, leading to an extended argument. A locked gate requires the player to solve a button-based puzzle to unlock it, but a frustrated Trover may suggest to just bash the gate down with brute force instead. None of these scenarios have any real bearing on the main story (or do they?), and are all filled with scathing commentary about the common tropes found in videogames, from tedious fetch quests to re-using voice actors.
Ironically enough, the constant satire about videogames doesn’t stop Trover Saves the Universe from playing like a standard action platformer. Many of the familiar mechanics are in place, from moving obstacles to cross far away platforms to fending off waves of enemies with a three-hit sword combo (including a ground pound) to collecting hidden Power Babies (it’s exactly like it sounds) for a “sweet bonus” found at the end of the journey. Fortunately, the familiar gameplay doesn’t get in the way of the oddball humor, and everything controls perfectly even in VR; the art style is especially impressive in the way it pops in VR thanks to a more simplistic cel-shaded visual style (and should be especially familiar to Rick and Morty fans, down to the weird “w” expression characters tend to make with their mouths). Roiland’s voice acting is especially top notch and clearly improvised for the majority of the game, as evidenced in how often he stumbles in saying his nonsensical lines without cracking up.
In the end, Trover Saves The Universe is an adequate-playing videogame that is defined by its style of humor. If anyone reading is on the fence, the best thing to do would be to check out Rick and Morty, as it is the easiest (and cheapest) way to determine if that type of comedy is appealing to the individual or not, the same way the recent South Park games also rely on the writing and wit of its source material. For fans of the series, this game is an absolute no-brainer and is just about the funniest videogame released in a long while.