Justin Roiland is no stranger when it comes to comedy, being the co-creator and main vocal star of the popular Adult Swim TV show, Rick and Morty. So, when we all discovered he was creating a new VR-enabled adventure game, starring a new character (yet another one of Justin’s Personas), you can imagine just how excited his fans became. Playable in both VR and in Flat-mode, Trover Saves the Universe is a batshit crazy game in terms of its narrative, yet surprisingly a really awesome and entertaining 3D platformer to boot.
Although I played the vast majority of the game within the Virtual Reality world (as I had much more fun whilst immersed with the headset on), the game is fully playable for those who don’t own the headset as well – everyone can join in the fun! So, let’s take a look at what crazy shenanigans we’re about to get up to within the latest outing from Squanch Games, Trover Saves the Universe…
I hope you’re sitting comfortably because you’re about to go on a crazy ride as I explain the premise for the unusual plot. Even though Trover is our main protagonist, he isn’t ‘you’, you’re the ‘Chairorpian’, a humanoid who moves around whilst sat on a hover-chair (just like the humans in Wall-E). Whilst out with your dogs, a giant no-eyed god-like creature shoved both of your dogs into his empty eye-sockets, thus sucking out their life essence as a means to destroy the universe. Feeling down as the world blamed you for its inevitable demise, you’re assigned your very own controllable monster as you set out to get back your dogs and save everyone.
The monster you’re given is Trover, a purple anthropomorphic creature which has two ‘Power Babies’ shoved deep within his own eye-sockets (it’s not a sexual thing… I think). So, using your DualShock 4 controller (as it’s just as popular in this world as it is our own), you must directly control Trover as you fend off foes, solve puzzles, make inhumane and moral choices, and generally piss off everyone you come into contact with. The narrative is a decent length, at around five to six hours, but your playtime will vary as you search every nook and cranny for the hidden Power Babies and replay the ‘what if’ situations.
I’m trying to avoid all spoilers, as I want you to experience the entire game yourself, but expect many zany, and offensive, characters along your journey, as well as a constant barrage at how hopeless and pathetic you are in the place of praise and encouragement. I honestly don’t think I’ve laughed at a game (both in and out of VR) this much all year!
Whether you’re playing Trover Saves the Universe in or out of VR, the controls are practically the same. You can only use the DS4 (no Moves) and the controller is always present on screen – as you push the buttons IRL, the Chairorpian will mimic your actions within the game for every single button press or stick movement, which I thought was a really cool touch. The general controls are simple though, move the Left Stick to move Trover around, the Right stick looks in Flat Mode (in VR it rotates your chair), the face buttons perform various actions like jump and attack, and the touchpad is our Power Baby checklist – to ensure you’ve found them all. Nice and simple yet works perfectly.
Now, the game expands on the controls the further into the game you get, presenting you with new abilities and even the ability to thrust your chair up two levels into the sky so you can overlook what Trover is doing, as well as having a vantage point for solving simple puzzles and searching for collectables. Whilst in VR, the game ‘blinks’ as it moves you up or turns you around (the screen is momentarily black for a split second as it changes the orientation or position, so no actual movement), so it should be okay for people who get motion sickness. However, those who suffer from heights may not like the height aspect as it’s a key mechanic throughout the game. I’m a bit iffy with heights but the level we get to in the game never really bothered me.
What stood out for me was that this is yet another game that is essentially a 3D platformer yet it’s been adapted to VR perfectly by simply introducing the main character (us) as a guy in a chair who can’t move about without the aid of the titular Trover. I love games that do this, such as Moss and Along Together, as it proves that almost any genre can be perfectly recreated to work well within VR if the developers put time and effort into adapting it. Speaking of movement, again, there’s no free movement or exploration. Trover must be moved into the vicinity of a portal and then you can thrust yourself towards him. This has a little motion, but not enough to affect anyone.
Puzzles and Combat
The puzzles within Trover Saves the Universe are about as simple as you can get – apart from a few which are seemingly impossible and pisses off Trover just as much as you when you’re trying to complete them. Most of them are as simple as using a new ability to pick up and move blocks to create platforms for Trover to jump on, or simply performing house moves for an annoying girl who can’t make up her mind. There’s nothing brain-teasing or difficult, every single problem you come across is fun and enjoyable to solve, or at least you’re motivated to complete them fast as there’s bound to be some annoying characters yapping in the background as they throw insults or constantly moan at you.
The combat itself is solid – I loved every fight I was involved within, even if it was beating up a poor defenceless old man or a village of happy younglings with my lightsaber. Just like your chair, Trover gains new abilities throughout the game which adds more to the combat, but you can also use your chair powers to get even more involved. If you see items on the floor left over from the enemies you’ve slaughtered, use your DS4 to pick them up and throw them back at the other enemies.
I think my only issue with the game, in terms of its combat, is that it’s very easy. You start off with a few life bars but you’ll never run out as once you start to lose them, the enemies start to drop health items quite regularly. Also, collecting Power Babies increases your health with even more bars. I’ve not even collected all of the Power Babies (something I have to do as Trover has promised me a special treat at the end if I do), but I’ve still got a maxed out health meter now.
This, in itself, isn’t a bad thing though as it makes the game much more accessible as you’re free to have fun and enjoy the insane narrative whilst feeling like a badass throughout. Thanks to not requiring VR, you could even let kids under twelve-year-old play it… but would you want to???
Okay, before you get your panties in a twist, this isn’t about any censorship imposed by the platform holders, it’s an option you can set yourself before you start the game. If you choose ‘Mature’ then you get the full un-edited narrative with all the effing and jeffing here and there throughout the game – and believe me, there’s a lot! Almost every sentence Trover speaks has some sort of insult, swearing, offensive remark or dig at your physical appearance or abilities. However, turning on the ‘Censored’ mode is supposed to filter out certain parts of the spoken and subtitled narrative so that those who don’t like the language (or shouldn’t be listening to it) won’t hear it.
As a fully grown adult with a very immature and childish mind, I clearly played through the entire game on the Mature mode and loved every second of it. It was full of toilet humour, random insults for no apparent reason, I was pissing people off by hacking them to death with my lightsaber and jumping on them, and overall everyone just hated both me and Trover.
But, for review purposes, I’ve played a few chapters with the Censored mode enabled. Personally, I didn’t see much difference – some words are changed and certain swear words are bleeped out and replaced by asterisks in the subtitles. However, things like ‘Shit’ are still spoken and subtitled and obviously, the visual effects aren’t changed – such as seeing a man hung to death.
So, while it’s nice having an option to enable or disable the censored mode, ‘Censored’ doesn’t mean a blanket block on all swear words or possibly offensive content – it’s more like ‘edited for TV mode’.
The VR mode within Trover Saves the Universe is by far the best way to play the game. You can clearly tell that the game was initially created with VR in mind and then added in the support for Flat-mode afterwards. This isn’t crapping on the Flat-mode, as it works really well, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the experience you get whilst (literally) sat within VR.
The first thing you’ll notice as you don the PSVR headset is just how colourful and clear the world looks. Just like I mentioned in my Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs review, these two games look simply stunning within this new reality. As you play a stationary humanoid, you can’t get up close to the majority of things, which works in the game’s favour as it means it can render objects with a lower resolution in the distance but you’d never notice, yet once you bring Trover right up to your face – he looks so real you just want to reach out and give him a big hug!
I love how the game is really self-aware and breaks the fourth wall constantly. As you can’t move unless you teleport to a portal via the help of Trover, if you try and make him wander off too far then he’ll sometimes advise you that “he can’t walk any further as he’ll become too pixelated and blurry for you to see him” – a nice nod and reason for why you can’t just wander off too far! The ability to thrust yourself up in the air to get a better view simply enhances your experience within this world as you get a perfect overview of puzzles, the landscape, secrets, waypoints, and more. Plus, the depth and realism of the fantastical and cartoon-like worlds begin to immerse you so much, you sometimes forget your playing a game and begin to believe you’re actually there.
I know a lot of people sit out on some Single Player games as they feel there isn’t much replayability or any reason to come back to the game after your first playthrough. Thankfully, Trover Saves the Universe requires you to play through the game a few times if you’re looking to get all of the trophies. There are a few ‘moral’ choices throughout the game which rewards you with a trophy based upon your decision, requiring you to replay the chapter via the chapter selection if you wish to do the alternative option. One such choice (which isn’t a secret as Trover tells you this over and over), is whether you kill the alien race or not when tasked to do so. Your choice slightly alters the narrative, rewards you with a trophy and possibly impacts the final scene within the game.
So, even if you have a guide, or you’re very careful and manage to collect all of the Power Babies on your first go, there are still reasons to return to this wacky experience and either replay the entire game or use the chapter select (which has a handy Power Baby checklist on it) in order to clean up the remaining criteria. Oh, there’s a bloody annoying trophy within your Tardis-like ship which absolutely murdered my neck upon completion! However, I found it much easier in VR than it was in Flat-mode on my other PS4.
As an extra bonus, there’s some FREE DLC coming soon in order to extend the story and add more content to the game! On the Steam Forums, it says the game will remain at its base price (not involved in sales) for longer than usual so that it can help fund towards the free DLC which will be provided. This is great and something I wouldn’t mind other games adopting – instead of dropping your games down by up to 50% within a month or two, remain at your base price but temp people with promised free content in exchange. This DLC is also dropping on the PS4 as the game has a little advertisement on the main menu stating it’s coming soon.
As I mentioned above, Trover Saves the Universe is a bloody beautiful game to look at, in its own strange and twisted way. Sure, you’ll see a creature with dogs in its eye-sockets, a giant fat man who reminds me of Mr Creosote (it’s only wafer thin), a guy hung by the neck as he gently sways in the breeze, and people conjoined against their will – but they all look gorgeous artistically. I was playing mainly in VR via a PS4 Pro and the quality the game displays in the headset was much higher than a lot of games I’ve played previously, with its lush colours, cartoon-aesthetic, great animations and unusual art direction. For me, Trover Saves the Universe has been placed within my ‘show off VR with this’ folder.
Soundwise, the game is simply fantastic for someone as immature and childish as me. The game is literally secreting insults, abuse, toilet humour and bad language our of every orifice! As you’d expect from Justin Roiland, the voice acting is second to none, with Justin providing the majority of the voices. However, we’re also treated to excellent vocals from people like Mary Mack (an American comedian with an interesting voice) and Rich Fulcher (famous for his roles in The Mighty Boosh and Snuff Box). The cast list is simply perfect and couldn’t be any better as they perfectly reenact the narrative to annoy and irritate you!
Similarly, the music chosen/created works great within the scenes and adds a light-hearted approach to the onslaught of insults and abuse you’re bound to get throughout your time within Trover Saves the Universe.
Trover Saves the Universe is the funniest game I’ve played all year, both in and out of VR. I think it’s the first time in a while where I’ve laughed so hard I almost cried whilst wearing my headset. The narrative is brilliant, with its simple plot that has been twisted into something so much more thanks to the comedic genius, Justin Roiland. Although you can play the entire game in both VR and Flat-mode, VR adds a whole new level onto the immersion as you take the place of the silent ‘Chairtagonist’ in your quest to save the world with your purple slave. This is a ‘must buy’ for everyone who owns a PS4 or PC.
If you’re looking for a game which will make you laugh, cringe and slightly dirty, then Trover Saves the Universe is the game for you! Although it’s packed with a ‘Censored’ mode, I’d probably not recommend younger kids play the game, thanks to some words slipping through and the imagery in some scenes. Although, if you’re technically an adult but mentally a bit childish and/or immature – grab the game and go nuts with it!
Trover Saves the Universe£24.99
- - Really funny and immature
- - Visually, looks great in and out of VR
- - Can be played in or out of VR
- - Free DLC content coming soon
- - The gameplay and the narrative are entertaining
- - The paper basket trophy was a bitch
- - The 'Censored' mode doesn't fully censor the game (doesn't affect my opinion but may affect someone else's out there)