Trover Saves the Universe Review

I’ve not watched Rick and Morty (I know, I know), but man, if it’s half as batshit insane as Trover Saves the Universe then I need to start! Justin Roiland and the team at Squanch Games have created something that is as hilarious and over the top as it is utterly baffling. I’m rather fond of surreal humour, and while there were elements of Trover that I didn’t quite jive with, overall I enjoyed my time with it.

Originally released as a PSVR title a few months back, us non-VR enabled Xbox players are now treated to a faithful, well executed port. It’s easy to see the VR elements that have had to be trimmed down here, though I’m not sure we are really missing out on much – outside of the sense of scale of course. Starting off, we are treated to the bizarre sight of Glorkon, a rebel Abstainer, kicking things off by inserting our Chairorpian’s – our characters race, and clear VR friendly setup – dogs into his eye sockets and unlocking ultimate power… naturally. Shortly, titular hero Trover knocks at our door and we’re off on an adventure.

This opening scene is a good example of both it’s VR roots, and how the lack of VR doesn’t really present a problem. Around our apartment where Trover finds us there are various items dotted about that can be interacted with. Aiming at them then pulling the trigger will see them react to your ‘touch’. Throughout the game this is used in both general play as well as battles and puzzles. While I did find in certain scenes it to be a tad awkward to aim, for example throwing a golden tooth at a switch across the room, for the most part this mechanic worked just fine. I would imagine it’d be much easier to get the angle when you’re able to adjust your physical view of course, though seeing as you’re restricted to your chair throughout there may not be as much of a benefit as expected.

Also throughout, we see our Chairorpian holding a rectangular controller, on which the fingers and thumbs react to your real life button presses. Chairorpians are not all that well regarded in this universe, with even Trover mentioning how most of the people he knows are Chair-ist. Despite this though, it’s through this controller that we interact with the world, as well as control Trover himself. It’s hard to avoid referencing the VR portion when everything about the title is clearly designed for that environment, though again, this set up work well on our flat screens. Moving Trover is just like any 3rd person game. To cut down on the motion sickness, we are stuck in place for the most part. Our view point can turn to keep up with Trover, but to move with him we use the blue teleport stations dotted across the levels; he needs to step into one before it allows us to move to him. Later on we gain the ability to raise our point of view skywards to help with puzzles as well as give a better view of fights. It does take a little while to get used to needing to move Trover before we can move, but again, it soon becomes second nature and if anything provides a unique take on the platforming action.

Combat is a fairly simple affair, with Trover using a light sabre style sword to hack down foes. Later foes mix things up by requiring their armour to be knocked off first, but for the most part it’s straightforward hack and slashing action. Some will drop weapons that we can pick up and throw for big damage, though again this can be a bit awkward to aim while also handling Trover. Certain characters will provide him with upgrades at points throughout. The first one you’ll come across will task you with killing some monsters nearby. Be wary though; this same character also has the exact same creatures as pets. It’s here that the simple moral choice system comes into play. Kill the monsters and he’ll grant you the reward. Kill his pets (as I did, by mistake…) and he’ll, well, still give you the reward, but he won’t be happy about it. Depending on your actions at these points. you’ll be treated to a different speech come the ending, though I won’t go in to more detail than that.

There are also Green Power Baby’s that are hidden across the stages. Milestone numbers of these give Trover an extra hit point, with him promising some big reward should you get them all. Answers in the comments if you mange it please! Watching him use these Baby’s pretty much sums up the tone of the humour throughout the title. Popping the current Baby out of his left eye socket, we then see the new Power Baby devour the old in a cartoon-y yet graphic way before inserting into the empty eye socket. It’s both hilariously violent and supremely bizarre to see, helped by some funny dialogue from Trover admiring the way it’s done. There are many, many more examples I can think of that emphasise this theme further, but to spoil them would be to rob them of their impact for new players.

This weirdness extend to the writing and acting and it’s here I found things less enjoyable. As I said at the top, I like surreal humour, but the delivery from each character is not only identical across the cast, but from minute one to the end of the 6 or so hour campaign it never changes up. That’s not to say it’s not funny mind. It’s just that it’s all stuttered lines that repeat themselves before settling on a phrase and continuing I did find it a bit annoying by the end to be honest. I get that it’s intentional, and it continues the style that Roiland has made his name off of, but when there are several characters on screen at once, all talking in that same stuttering style it got to be too much. I must note though that there is an impressive amount of dialogue recorded for each scene. I often found myself walking away before main characters had finished speaking because they would be waffling on for minutes at a time – and they even have dialogue to react to that.

Conclusion

Coming from Roiland, Trover Saves the Universe was never going to be a straight laced affair. There are plenty of funny moments spliced into the gameplay that will have you laughing. That it ports so well with the VR element removed is commendable; controlling Trover in fights and puzzle situations is intuitive, if no doubt sightly more awkward without that extra element. The constant stuttering nature of the acting did start to grate by the end, though fans of his work will no doubt look over that detail. If you’re after a unique, bizarre adventure for an evening, Trover will most certainly have you covered.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Unique gameplay
  • Genuinely funny (and weird)
  • Some great character designs
Bad
  • Line delivery became a bit too one note by the end
  • Some puzzles/fights were a bit more awkward without that extra VR element
7.5
Good
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 8
Audio - 7
Longevity - 7
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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