'Trover Saves the Universe': Game Review

Trover Saves the Universe - Squanch Games - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Squanch Games

Justin Roiland, co-creator of 'Rick and Morty,' bring his trademark dark humor to a new universe.

Trover Saves the Universe feels like an extended Rick and Morty episode with an entirely new cast of characters. It’s got the humor, it’s got the world-bending adventures and it’s got the voice of Justin Roiland all over it. There’s a serviceable if not terribly unique gameplay experience under the surface, but the characters and the laughs are what drive this game to success.

The game follows a nameless Chairorpian — one of a race of humanoid aliens confined to chairs and always conveniently holding video game controllers — and Trover, a purple Eyeball Monster whose eyes are actually small beings themselves. Together they embark on a world-hopping adventure to save the Chairorpian’s two dogs after they’re stolen by a massive being called Glorkon and forced into Glorkon’s eyeholes, granting him massive power.

Strange, right? It’s definitely a weird game, one of the weirdest experiences in a long time, but in action it all works quite well. Roiland’s rambling ad-lib style comes through in every character he voices, from the Glorkon Clone enemies to the many non-playable characters that Trover and the Chairorpian encounter during the five-hour adventure. There will be moments where the player will have to pause the game to catch their breath from laughing too hard, which makes total sense coming from a mind like Roiland.

As funny as these characters are, though, sometimes their incessant rambling does more to annoy than delight. Though not true of every character the player encounters, a few of the game's inhabitants continue to talk and talk and talk, sometimes even after Trover and the Chairorpian have moved on to another part of the world, and it becomes grating.

For the most part, however, the dialogue will have players' sides splitting. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay of Trover Saves the Universe is not as engaging. The Chairorpian and Trover are controlled at the same time, with Trover moving around the world and fighting enemies with his lightsaber while the Chairorpian grabs items, moves parts of the world, and raises his chair to get a bird’s-eye view of the stage. It sounds complicated, but more often than not it’s far easier than one might expect.

Combat is basic, a button-mashing affair that throws a few unique attacks in for good measure but nothing jaw-dropping. The Chairorpian’s grabbing abilities make for some interesting puzzles, but most of them are simply moving objects a certain way so Trover can get past an obstacle. Nothing in Trover’s gameplay feels unique, instead serving as an interactive bridge between more scenes of goofy dialogue.

The puzzles that are interesting usually regard Green Power Babies, Trover’s main collectible. These small green aliens are scattered throughout the game’s many worlds by the dozens, and collecting them adds to Trover’s health bar at certain amounts. Most worlds have 30 Green Power Babies to collect, giving the player plenty of reasons to explore every nook and cranny of each world.

Some such Power Babies are simply found floating around the world, while others lay encased in spiky prisons that Trover must attack in order to free them. Reaching these collectibles takes some out-of-the-box thinking, a mixture of environmental manipulation and the collective powers of Trover and the Chairorpian, and there are a few that will surely get an “aha!” out of the player.

For the motion sick among us who can’t handle virtual reality, Trover Saves the Universe offers a non-VR option that takes very little away from the overall experience. Sure, the player may not be able to look around and see the world for themselves, but the controls mostly stay the same (only the button to raise the Chairorpian’s throne changes) and the worlds are just as easy to navigate. Allowing the game to be played in and out of VR is a level of accessibility other titles should strive for.

Trover Saves the Universe won’t win any awards for revolutionary gameplay, but the silliness of the whole thing is worth coming back for. Fighting enemies is rudimentary, and the game’s puzzles don't always challenge the mind as much as they should, but the weird story and silly characters definitely make up for any shortcomings.

Rick and Morty may not be back until November, but Trover will at least help scratch that itch.