Justin Roiland’s rambling, absurd and often vulgar sense of humour is unmistakable. This nihilistic irreverence has become quintessential to all his work, drawing fans to each new project while warding off those who find it repulsive. Trover Saves the Universe marks Roiland’s third foray into VR games and stands as the purest distillation of his imagination, for better or worse. Luckily, tight platforming, responsive combat, and inventive mechanics make this game a joy to play.
When Glorkon, a beaked madman, dognaps your pets and places them in his eye-holes, it falls on you and your newly appointed buddy Trover to track down the cosmic bastard, retrieve your sweet little pups and save the universe. On this multiverse spanning adventure you’ll visit worlds made of flesh, meet and murder all manner of wacky characters and form a close bond with your purple eye-hole monster friend.
While playable without, this game is best experienced in VR. Much like AstroBot, the depth of VR makes platforming significantly easier while Roiland’s bold, bright art style and twisted character designs are made all the more vibrant and grotesque by the intimacy of virtual reality. The game’s audio is similarly filled with personality; gratifyingly cartoonish sound effect accompany every action while a surprisingly serene soundtrack dances beneath the derangement of Trover’s tale.
Roiland’s bizarre imagination and unique humour permeate every second of the game, and as per usual with his rambling, improvisational approach to comedy this can result in a mixed bag. Without the more concise vignette structure of Accounting Plus or the presence of a writing partner afforded by Rick and Morty, Roiland and co are allowed to ramble indefinitely, taking a quantity over quality approach to comedy. While these monologues are at times hilarious and inspired, they can equally be ambling and monotonous. Every instance of fourth-wall breaking commentary, surrealist satire or sarcastic nihilism is offset by grating toilet humour and forced, profanity-laden insults.
Despite this, Trover is an endearing and strangely sympathetic character. For all its absurdity, there is a well told story at the game’s core and I found myself genuinely invested in the fate of Trover, the universe and its many odd inhabitants. A strong supporting cast featuring Mary Mack’s Minnesotan drawl and Rich Fulcher’s ever-hilarious singy-song monotone help break up Roiland’s stream of consciousness and bring added life to this carefully crafted world. A dynamic dialogue system which seamlessly adapts to interruptions, much God of War’s contextual dialogue, also works to diversify Trover’s constant chatter while maintaining the momentum of conversation.
As a chair-bound Chairopian, only able to move by teleporting between nodes, all of your actions are exerted through Trover, whom you control via his eye-dwelling power babies. Platforming and combat feel satisfying and responsive, and upgrades to both your chair and Trover manage to keep gameplay fresh with creative new mechanics. With the ability to raise your chair into the air by one or two levels, you can gain a new perspective on your environment, peeking into hidden areas or getting a better view as you guide Trover. In the game’s later levels, the power to pick up and throw objects with a beam that protrudes from your controller adds a level of cooperation to combat, requiring you to knock armour off certain enemies before Trover can deal damage.
Unfortunately, your adventure is over before this mechanic and others can be fully explored. At around 5-hours long, Trover Saves The Universe feels the right length for a VR game, and while a wealth of collectible power-babies and a wonderfully creative trophy list add replay value, the charm of the game’s world and the inventiveness of its mechanics demand more. Thankfully, Squanch Games are taking an original and hopefully mutually beneficial approach to post-launch content.
By maintaining the game’s full price and periodically releasing free DLC updates, the studio hope player’s will see their purchase as an investment. The game feels like a complete package so this DLC does not seem like removed content, but rather, thanks to the game’s modular structure, new worlds can be indefinitely added, offering their own unique experience beyond the game’s core story. Dipping back into the game on occasion for another succinct little adventure fits perfectly with its tone and gameplay, and hopefully feedback from the game’s launch can help inform the quality of this content.
Trover Saves the Universe is a treat for fans of Justin Roiland’s distinct sense of humour, although at times it feels crippled by its constant desire to be funny. More successful are its efforts as a game; beneath the bedlam is an excellent third-person VR platformer filled with creative game design, satisfying combat and a heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship.
Trover Saves the Universe PSVR Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Trover Saves the Universe is brimming with oddball characters and deranged humour directly from its creator’s mind. Roiland’s humour is an acquired taste and for some players it will be either the game’s biggest draw, or flaw. Although at times inspired, the humour is hit or miss, but luckily a heartfelt story, satisfying combat and consistently inventive gameplay make this one of PSVR’s most enjoyable platformers yet.
- Full of Roiland’s bizarre imagination which is at times hilarious.
- Inventive gameplay mechanics keep things fresh and use VR well.
- Satisfying combat and smooth platforming.
- Free future DLC add incentive to return beyond the relatively short campaign.
- The humour is inconsistent and can get grating.
- Some gameplay mechanics are tragically underutilized.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
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