I’m going to assume everyone checking out this review is doing so because they’re a fan of Rick & Morty, as you only need to take a glance at Trover Saves the Universe to know it’s cut from the same cloth. If you’re reading this and somehow haven’t seen the show, you really should check it out; I couldn’t recommend it enough. Series co-creator and vocal talent Justin Roiland has a side-gig making video games, and Trover Saves the Universe is drowning in his signature style. If you can’t stand his show, then you’re going to have a hard time getting through his game.
Here’s what I liked:
More art than science – Justin Roiland’s mark on this game is undeniable, from the art style to playing about 90% of characters. For fans of his work this will be an absolute treat, as it feels like he was allowed to go absolutely wild without the shackles of a half-hour sitcom structure. You play as a Chairorpian, a sedentary alien race who spends their entire life in a hover-chair. One day your beloved dogs are kidnapped by a giant evil entity (that sounds a lot like Rick), who places them in his empty eye sockets to harness their power. Enter Trover (who sounds a lot like Morty), another alien who uses his eye holes to hold power babies. He’s been hired to retrieve you, but before long you’re both on an adventure to save the universe and rescue your dogs. It’s pure nonsense, full of made-up words and loud-mouth characters, and fully embraces the chaos by never making a lick of sense. Granted, this type of comedy definitely isn’t for everyone; every bit of dialogue sounds like a drunken ramble, which can get more annoying than funny the longer it goes on. Thanks to the M rating the coarse language is abundant and the jokes can be cruder and darker than anything on his basic cable show.
Look at me! – Playing as a Chairorpian is a weird experience; you’re playing as a character in first-person, who in turn is controlling Trover in third-person. Your character is stationary, only able to look around and adjust the height of their chair. Most of your interactions with the world are done through Trover, who can run, jump, attack, dodge like any true video game character. You’re basically playing as someone playing a video game; you can even see your character’s hands using the controller at the bottom of the screen. Your chair can only move if Trover reaches a warp point, to which you can instantly teleport with a button press. It’s an unorthodox system that works really well, once you get used to platforming from a fixed perspective. The game does a great job utilizing both characters; Trover handles the combat and platforming, but your adjustable perspective makes you a great navigator. There are also the occasional puzzles you can directly interact with from the comfort your chair. I also enjoy how the game’s collectibles (green power babies) also support both characters; some are encased in a shell that can only be broken by Trover, while others are purely hidden by perspective and must be gathered by focusing on them. Not only do these babies provide upgrades, each has a unique name, look and backstory that can be read from the pause menu.
Literally everything – As with any late port, Trover Saves the Universe comes pre-packed with all its add-on content. The biggest inclusion is the Important Cosmic Jobs expansion, which has you exploring Trover’s place of work. While the main game is a beat-’em-up platformer, this side story takes away the action to become something more akin to a point-and-click puzzle game. You’ll explore the office building, talk to employees, solve riddles, play mini-games… you get the picture. It’s a decidedly different experience that’s much more laid back while retaining the same level of humor, making it the perfect epilogue to the main story. The other major addition is the “Jopo” toggle, which lets you play the entire game as a whole new character… but it’s actually just a dumb joke I won’t spoil here.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Squanchy seconds – It’s hard to praise some of the game’s most clever ideas, as what makes them great is absolutely lost in this port. Making the main character chair-bound is a smart idea… for a VR game. Controlling a separate character while you watch from above is a cool idea… for a VR game. There’s even a throw-away line about how cool the game looks in VR – and don’t think we didn’t notice that other Chairorpian was holding a controller that still had their original PSVR buttons. While the game still plays fine on a TV, it’s obvious just how much is lost in translation. All the unique mechanics were linked to the VR experience, leaving Trover with a traditional 3D platforming whose moveset is functional but extremely basic. The game really needed that boost from the novelty factor, as it’s exceedingly average without it.
Xbox really isn’t the place you should be playing Trover Saves the Universe, though it is preferable to dropping dough on an expensive VR setup. Even when played on a TV it’s still a solid puzzle-platforming experience, and none of the humor gets lost in translation. It’s a game every bit as funny and nonsensical as you’d expect from the mind behind Rick & Morty, which alone would be enough to give it a glowing recommendation.
Score: Highly Recommended
Trover Saves the Universe was developed and published by Squanch Games. It was released December 3, 2019 for $29.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.