Astrobot meets Rick and Morty in this wild, profanity-fueled joyride.
Trover Saves the Universe, a new VR game from the co-creator of Rick and Morty, is clearly a passion project. Squanch Games founder Justin Roiland has never been shy about to his love of VR technology and gaming in general, and that deep appreciation for interactive entertainment can be found in nearly all aspects of Trover Saves the Universe.
Everything from the ridiculous characters to the equally outrageous environments gives off a sense of uncompromised creativity; it’s just a shame the game is more concerned about rambling dialogue than it is about letting you play.
In Trover Save the Universe players step into the role of a Chairorpean, a race of alien creatures permanently attached to their futuristic La-Z-Boy’s. As you begin your adventure, you learn the evil bird-like Glorkon has stolen your pair of precious pooches and has stuffed them inside his empty eye-sockets (a common theme within the Rick and Morty Universe) as a way of increasing his power. As the owner of the two dogs—which now serve as a tool for destroying the cosmos—it’s your fault the universe is in peril. Tasked with saving all of existence by an ancient race of telepathic bird-people known as the Abstainers, it’s up to you to hunt down and stop Glorkon.
Joining you on your mission is Trover, a purple humanoid character assigned by his bosses, the Abstainers, to assist you throughout the journey. Trover serves as your primary form of interaction throughout the game. Viewing the action from your floating chair, you navigate Trover throughout the environment from a third-person perspective, using a series of teleportation nodes to move about the environment. Some portions of the map will be obscured by various environmental elements, forcing you to raise or lower your elevation in order to view key areas of the map and progress through the level. Just like how Astrobot uses the players perspective as part of the gameplay, TSTU forces you to lean around your environment in order to plan jumps, view hidden items, and plan your attacks.
As you navigate throughout each colorful environment you’ll come across an eclectic cast of characters, both friendly and hostile. A majority of your fights will be against different variations of smack-talking Glorkon clones, each of which sassier than the last. Trover comes equipped with a basic ‘power sword’ that allows him to slice through waves of enemies with relative ease. As you advance through the game you’ll collect cannibalistic power babies which can be used to unlock special powerups, such as double-jump, hover, and roll. Each of these upgrades, while simple, do a decent job at mixing up the combat.
Of course, combat isn’t really so much a focal point as it is a means to an end; Trover Saves the Universe is all about level design and character interactions. If you’re a fan of Rick and Morty, odds are you’ll enjoy this game. It features a near identical comedic style as the hit animated series, leaning heavily on random humor and rambling dialogue; perhaps a little too much.
The supporting characters in TSTU like to talk. They like to talk a lot. Unfortunately, the comedic charm of Rick and Morty’s improvisational style fails to hit the mark in this particular instance. Where the endless ramblings of a drunk Rick Sanchez opened the door for unexpected and outrageous dialogue, the characters in Trover Saves the Universe basically just repeat the same sentence they began the conversation with over and over again, resulting in lengthy character monologues that leave you genuinely frustrated.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come across a fair share of genuinely funny moments, but these rare instances of comedic gold are few and far between. So far my favorite interactions are the ones that happen in between the major story points. Chatting it up with the various upgrade vendors is always a fun experience, and watching Trover grow increasingly frustrated with the other characters is hysterical. In fact, almost every negative aspect of the game is at some point referenced by your purple-skinned partner. At one point you’re tasked with solving a convoluted puzzle in order to unlock a door and progress through further the level; if you take too long, Trover will become impatient and begin pointing out how boring and lazy the gameplay mechanic is. Eventually, he’ll instruct you to bypass the puzzle completely, saying, “F*** it, just break the door down!”
There are several moments scattered throughout the game that allow you to make your own decisions, although they usually end up with the same results no matter what choice you make. Sometimes this can be agreeing or disagreeing with a character by shaking your head, other times it’s deciding which character to kill. It’s a nice addition to the experience that does an ok job at delivering a sense of choice, but not enough to make it feel as though you’ve actually made a genuine impact. Still, by relegating you to a chair and turning the controller itself into an in-game element, the game does an impressive job at delivering a sense of immersion, especially for a title operated via a standard gamepad as opposed to motion controllers.
Comedy aside, Trover Saves the Universe is a unique VR platformer set within an engaging universe that’s anything but ordinary. While the dialogue and plot leave much to be desired, the R-rated language, eclectic cast of crass characters, and bizarre world-building still add up to a solid experience that’s sure to please fans of Rick and Morty and platformers alike. And no, you don’t need an extraordinarily high IQ to enjoy this game.
Trover Saves the Universe is available now for $29.99 on both SteamVR and PlayStation VR. You can also play the game outside VR in standard 2D. According to Squanch Games, the title will remain at full price for a longer period of time in order to facilitate a steady wave of free DLC.