Trover Saves the Universe review: Put it in your eyeholes
The co-creator of Rick and Morty ventures into the world of video games and VR with Squanch Game's Trover Saves the Universe.
Most folks who know who Justin Roiland is are familiar with him as the co-creator of the hit animated series Rick and Morty. But Justin has been making content with his signature twisted humor and improvisatory dialog long before then, including the poorly drawn short that inspired his popular TV show. Now he’s trying his hand at making video games with the launch of Trover Saves the Universe, the first title from his Squanch Games dev studio. Fortunately for gamers everywhere, Trover is close to exactly what one would hope for in such a union of comedy and video games.
The power of the babies
In Trover Saves the Universe, players take on the role of an unnamed Chairorpian who’s two pet dogs have been stolen by Glorkon the Abstainer. Glorkon has crammed the two puppers into its eyeholes in order to become an all-powerful being and fulfill his clandestine machinations. From here, players will team up with Trover, an Eyehole Monster who’s been hired to bring you to his boss and help solve the universal crisis your dogs have caused.
Chairorpians never leave their seat, allowing players to witness the game from their first-person perspective while controlling the titular Trover like they’re playing a third-person action platformer. Players will use Trover to hack and slash their way through Glorkon’s clones and various local inhabitants of the several planets you’ll visit. There are also a number of environmental and platform puzzles that players will have to solve to progress. It’s a very similar control mechanic to the one used in Moss but with more control over perspective since players can move their chair up and down to get a better view of the action.
Trover will gain new abilities like double-jump and a strong attack by getting new Power Babies for his eyeholes. When you get a new one it eats the one it’s replacing for some unexplained reason. There are also green power babies for players to collect hidden throughout several levels that will unlock additional health containers when enough are found and red ones that will replenish health.
The Chairorpian will gain a few new tricks here and there too, usually by being spit on by an NPC. Along the way, players will learn how to do things like pick up and move certain objects and move their chair up and down vertically. Since Trover Saves the Universe was designed to be played in VR, the two character mechanic makes a lot of sense if you’re trying to build an action platformer, but it doesn’t get rid of the need for teleportation completely which makes the Chairorpian workaround seem rather clever.
Eyeholes are the window to the soulhole
As players traverse the universe, they’ll get a chance to visit several planets each with their own unique environments, characters, and creatures. Environments are vibrant and detailed and it seems as if most of the character designs were taken directly out of Justin Roiland’s notebook. His signature style can be seen in just about every facet of the game’s visual designs.
I would say it’s more than fair to call the gameplay mechanics a very solid foundation, but one that is not without some flaws. While this is definitely a game where the dialog is the star, the combat is solid and easy to pick up. One of the more surprising aspects of gameplay is how amusing most of the puzzles are to solve. While you will do plenty of hacking and slashing, when it comes time to use your head to get out of a situation the game rarely disappoints. There are a few points where it might take some players longer than others to figure something out, but the game does a good job of dropping hints or just flat out yelling the solution at you. A few puzzles even end up being more of an amusing red herring than an obstacle to overcome.
While Trover did seem to solve the locomotion issue with ease, it still has some problems with depth perception here and there. Being able to move the perspective up and down helps fix it a little and there’s always a marker under Trover when he’s in the air to show where he’ll land, but despite this, there are still a couple of awkward angles to be found throughout the game.
As I’ve already said, the real Fleeb juice of the game lies in the plot and dialog. For starters, there’s an awesome cast of voice actors that includes Justin Roiland himself and a few well-known comedians like Steve Agee, Mary Mack, and Doug Benson. Every conversation or tangent has a very improvisatory tone to it, and I’m sure many of them actually were made up on the spot, but the game still somehow finds a way to glue it together into a cohesive and enjoyable story that will take you to places that you wouldn’t expect. There are even a few points in the game with branching dialog based off yes or no questions.
Admittedly, I probably spent more time laughing my ass off at things than I did actually fighting or puzzle solving, but I think most people going into Trover are already expecting a more story-driven experience, and if they aren’t they should. If I had one complaint about the VO it would be that some of the filler dialog is just an occasional f-bomb or a similar space-filler, but when you consider how many countless hours of dialog must’ve gone into making this game, it’s a pretty forgivable transgression.
I squanch this game
Trover Saves the Universe is an ambitious and solid first outing from the team at Squanch Games. There’s a real game here with some actual replayability thanks to hidden power babies, a few branching paths, and the crazy amount of voice acting that went into it. It looks good, it plays good, and it is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud several times during your adventure. At a price point of $29.99, you’re getting quite a deal considering the amount of content being delivered, especially for a VR experience. While Trover has a few flaws, the overall package executes what it sets out to accomplish remarkably well.
This review is based on a digital PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher. Trover Saves the Universe will be available on PlayStation 4 and PSVR on May 31 and June 4 on PC for $29.99.
Trover Saves the Universe
- Base gameplay is solid
- So much great dialog
- Power Babies
- Playable in VR or on a TV
- A colorful universe
- Some depth perception issues
- Flat filler dialog at points
Blake Morse posted a new article, Trover Saves the Universe review: Put it in your eyeholes