Trover Saves the Universe E3 2018 Hands-On Preview: Pushing Buttons

It's a tale of two heroes: A foul-mouthed purple alien with a sword and a lazy jerk in a chair. That's the premise of Trover Saves the Universe and Shacknews got to try out this upcoming adventure from Squanch Games.

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As mentioned earlier today, PlayStation VR quietly had quite an E3 this year. There were a number of games unveiled before and during the show, with many of them playable from the PlayStation booth. Last week, Shacknews had a chance to try out one of the more unusual PS VR games.

Trover Saves the Universe is the latest virtual reality effort from the folks at Squanch Games, headed up by Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland. It's an intriguing concept, in that it comes across as a standard 3D action-adventure platformer. However, Trover, the purple two-eyed alien running around the world, performing all the action, and doing all the talking (from voice actor Roiland himself) is merely secondary. The main character is the man in the chair, an avatar for the player. And this character never leaves the chair. The idea is to control the chair with the left analog stick, while Trover is controlled with the right analog stick.

One thing to note is that players may have to rethink certain gaming elements that they take for granted. For example, early on in the demo, there's an obnoxious yellow alien (Mr. Pons) that wants some help with removing an undesirable from his neighborhood. He will absolutely talk your ear off and if you're expecting the game to cue you to the next location, you'll be there forever. The idea is to find the next glowing checkpoint and move right along.

As I looked around the colorful world, a wooden log popped up in front of me, with the idea for Trover to leap over it and move along to the area behind it. However, the view was obstructed and something wound up killing Trover. This is where Mr. Pons introduces the other main mechanic of the game, which allows players to levitate the chair to three different levels. This allows players to not only get a better view of the playable area so they can actually help Trover avoid danger, but it also leads to some puzzle sequences.

This goes back to the idea of rethinking certain gaming elements. Trover will eventually hit a locked gate. The idea is to complete a trio of panel puzzles, one on each level and each progressively more difficult. While I was able to complete the first two panel puzzles, the third one was as tough as a Rubik's Cube. I spent several minutes scratching my chin over the potential solution, all the while Trover was complaining down below about wasting time on a stupid puzzle involving buttons. (Trover really doesn't like buttons.) There was something to this complaint, as it turned out. Eventually, Squanch Games Narrative Editor Anthony Bosco whispered in my ear that the puzzle was unsolvable. Feel rather embarrassed, I brought the chair back down, where Trover was waiting with an axe to bust through the door the easy way.

With all that said, There's a lot of humor to Trover Saves the Universe. A lot of it is the same twisted Rick & Morty style of humor that Roiland's fans have come to expect, particularly with Trover sounding so much like Roiland's Morty. Some of it is of the gross-out variety, like when Mr. Pons vomits in order to grant the chair its lifting power, but a lot of it is fourth-wall breaking observations about various storytelling and gaming tropes.

Trover won't be saving the universe for a while, but look for this VR adventure to hit PlayStation VR (non-VR on PS4 also supported) in early 2019.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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