Edited by: Jade Swann
Justin Roiland’s entrance into the gaming world was one of gaming’s most pleasant surprises. After years of collaboration and a few titles with other developers along the way, Roiland’s team, Squanch Games, is finally here with their debut title: Trover Saves the Universe. The title is an action platformer for both VR and standard gaming platforms with a setting and characters that seem to be made up on the fly by Roiland’s awkward and endless imagination.
To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ
Similarly to Rick and Morty, if it were revealed that Justin Roiland both wrote and voiced the game on the spot, a glass of whiskey in hand, I’m not sure any Roiland fans would be surprised.
The off-the-cuff nature of Trover Saves the Universe is both the source of its hilarity and, unsurprisingly, where the narrative runs into some issues. Previous games by Roiland, including Virtual Rick-ality and Accounting VR, were small-scope games which played off of Roiland’s commentary for very short, but hilarious experiences. The limited timeframe always prevented any scenario from overstaying its welcome.
Trover Saves the Universe adds an overarching plot into the mix, giving the timeline more structure at the cost of certain parts lasting way too long. An example of this is the fact that one of my favorite parts was a fourth-wall-breaking entity called Mr. Popup asking you to kill a fetus-eating giant who lives in a tiny house on a cliff named Michael. The conversation that ensues is an absolute mess in the greatest possible way. On the other hand, integral parts to the plot, such as meeting a group of omnipotent beings known as the abstainers, are injected exposition for the sake of structure.
The ups and downs of the story are a small price to pay given that each level hosts a new ensemble of weird characters and scenarios to experience. The real issue with the story is simply how short it is. Even a completionist will struggle to spend more than ten hours on the game, and average gamers shouldn’t expect to spend more than six hours altogether. Free DLC is planned for the future, but even if it adds a significant chunk to the story, it’s hard to consider the current asking price proportionate.
Why don’t you take a seat?
You play as a Chairorpian, a species confined to a chair who uses video game controllers to interact with things around the world. For the VR experience, it’s a clever way to give players a unique set of eyes on the world. As an avid VR player, it’s nice to see a game that gives players a comfortable way to play without taking away from the experience at all. The immersion of using a controller in VR feels great, allowing you to simply focus on breathing in all of the beautiful scenery.
The experience outside of VR, however, shows its flaws. The minimalist art style is significantly less charming when not experienced in VR and navigating as a Chairorpian feels clunky and takes away from platforming, often due to awkward angles. Having a fixed camera as opposed to the free-rigged camera of playing with a headset is an incomparable experience. It is very clear that the game was designed for VR originally, so anyone lacking a headset may find themselves disappointed.
Clash of Fates
Combat is… present in the game. The combat almost feels more like an afterthought than it does a core mechanic. You fight small mobs with a lightsaber and pick up new moves and abilities as the title progresses, yet most fights feel shoehorned in. The majority of the experience is the platforming, puzzle solving, dialogue, and hunting for green power babies, the core collectibles in the game. I found myself more interested in the hilarious dialogue that enemies have with each other than the actual combat itself. It’s your standard hack and slash combat with very little to no challenge to be seen. This is definitely a game that will be much more enjoyable to fans of platforming and Justin Roiland’s rambling, hilarious nonsense than anyone who was reeled in by the promise of an action game.
The Verdict: Great
Trover Saves the Universe handles VR in a way not seen before and truly stands out not only for its comedic value, but its ability to innovate in a fresh industry. There are so many zany characters to meet and they’ll be hilarious no matter how you experience them. The issues with the title fall on the fact that its lack of content and inability to deliver an engaging experience to standard players feels very disproportionate to its price tag. It is something everyone should get around to experiencing, but its lack of replayability is something to be wary of.