REVIEW: Trover Saves the Universe Trades Gameplay For Humor

You are a Chairopian, an alien attached to a floating chair. One day, your world is torn apart when the beaked intergalactic observer Glorkon steals your dogs, promptly placing them into his vacant eye holes. Powered up to godly levels by your canine companions, Glorkon takes over the world, so everyone is pretty bummed. Fortunately, a purple Eyehole Monster named Trover joins you on your quest to reclaim your dogs, ripping a Power Baby out of his eye-socket to grant you direct control over him. Welcome to Trover Saves The Universe.

Trover Saves The Universe is the first game published by Justin Roiland's Squanch Games and is available now on Playstation 4, PS VR and PC. Considering that Roiland himself voices pretty much every character in the game, along with the quasi-improvisational tone of the plot, Trover Saves The Universe could very well be a game within the Rick and Morty universe, like Roy.

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Ultimately, Trover Saves The Universe's gameplay isn't groundbreaking, which isn't necessarily a bad thing: Trover Saves The Universe is basically meant to hold fans over until the next season of Rick and Morty. After all, you're not playing Trover Saves The Universe for intense, high-octane platforming straight out of Super Mario Odyssey. No, you're playing Trover Saves The Universe to hear the next joke, not unlike South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Unlike the South Park games, however, Trover Saves The Universe isn't polished enough to warrant its thirty dollar price tag.

Trover Saves The Universe is a standard-issue platformer wearing a Rick and Morty paint job. At its best, you're using your chair to grab and fling objects while simultaneously controlling Trover to defeat enemies with the same square-square-square combo that you've been using to destroy literally every other enemy thus far in the game. Unfortunately, most of the time you're using the aforementioned square-square-square combo to mindlessly destroy enemies.

Glorkon Takes Your Dogs Trover Saves The Universe

Trover Saves The Universe is also a collect-a-thon, with each world featuring an assortment of Green Power Babies. Some of these Power Babies require piloting Trover to some hard-to-reach platforms. Other Green Power Babies take more of a Where's Waldo approach and are hidden in plain sight.

Every Green Power Baby you collect will be blended up in your spaceship to increase Trover's hit points – a fairly useless "upgrade" considering how easy it is to vanquish your foes. Trover even points out the uselessness of these upgrades, but does that make them any less pointless?

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There's a lot of humor in the game, and most characters have intentionally silly names like Downgrade Dan and Voodoo Guy, all of whom typically sound like Rick and/or Morty. As compared to Rick and Morty, though, the improvisational humor of Trover Saves The Universe lacks a certain polish.

Don't get us wrong, the game is definitely hilarious at times, especially when Roiland himself cracks up while delivering lines or breaks the fourth wall, albeit most of the improvisational bits hinge on vulgarity for its own sake. You'll crack up, but everyone has an intentionally long rant or stream of obscenities to hurl at you.

Trover Saves The Universe Boss

Much like any standup routine, if you endure the "meh" parts then you'll eventually hit comedy gold. When you reach a point in the game where you're set back significantly, for instance, Trover claims, "Narratively speaking, we might as well be at the video game start screen right now." Likewise, after you struggle for a few moments with a button-based puzzle to unlock a door, Trover just barrels through, noting that puzzles do not make for compelling gameplay.

The problem is that the "meh" parts of Trover's humor are typically intentionally drawn out routines that go on for too long. As Trover himself points out, most characters you encounter are obnoxiously annoying, droning on about inane topics or just swearing at you.

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When done correctly, these overdrawn nonsensical monologues about real estate or preferring a house with a basketball hoop help fill the silence as you figure out puzzles. That is to say, the dialogue keeps you distracted from Trover's lackluster gameplay.

At their worst, these overdrawn bits of dialogue seem as if they were included just to pad out the game's length. For example, there's a level where you're supposed to go down an extremely long path as you overhear a conversation between godly beings who are high on Crystal Babies. This path is intentionally long, allowing you to hear every line of the conversation, although there's nothing about the dialogue warranting the long pathway's existence. The game's graphics aren't cutting edge either, so the long hallway probably isn't hiding any loading screens. Rather, the path was included solely for the routine, kind of like the long ladder from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.  

Including these improvisational bits as filler seems fitting, as Trover Saves The Universe is pretty short – lasting only five to six hours. There are around five main levels in the game, with some cinematic levels sprinkled in for plot development. The gameplay on these five main levels is pretty basic, and not particularly difficult.

So should you get Trover Saves The Universe? Given its thirty dollar price tag, a lot of Trover's flaws can be overlooked, yet that's still a steep price for a short game with little replay value. Sure, the game offers dialogue options, but your choice of "Yes" or "No" has zero effect on the plot. Fortunately, the title screen notes that "Hot Free DLC" is on the way, which might help in the long run.

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Although there are some hilarious moments and clever bits of dialogue, it's hard to recommend Trover Saves The Universe, as playing it feels like such a chore, making the journey to the next punchline a struggle.

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