Trover Saves the Universe, the new PlayStation VR game from Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, feels like an adventure Morty and Rick might watch via interdimensional cable, or a universe they could travel to with Rick’s portal gun. The game is full of outrageous jokes and references that feel like Easter eggs nodding to the Adult Swim series, especially in terms of the humor and overall design style.
In Trover Saves the Universe, you play as an unnamed, chair-bound Chairorpian whose dogs are stolen by Glorkon, a cosmic being who shoves the pups into his eyes, using the powers he gains as a result to destroy the universe. Trover is a purple eye-hole alien hired to track you down, and together you’re tasked with saving the universe by defeating Glorkon. You sit firmly in your chair, controlling Trover as he helps teleport you around various alien environments.
Roiland (and everyone else that’s worked on Trover Saves the Universe) has firmly stated that the game doesn’t take place in the Rick and Morty universe in any way, but as we’ve heard Rick say time and again, there’s an infinite number of possible universes out there. Are we living in the one where that’s a lie? Will Trover’s home universe be in Rick and Morty Season 4?
Here are five outrageous Trover Saves the Universe Easter eggs that feel like direct Rick and Morty references:
5. Trover Recycles Snuffles From Rick and Morty
Trover Saves the Universe’s core conflict involves rescuing the protagonist’s two little white dogs from the evil Glorkon, and Rick and Morty fans will instantly recognize that they both resemble Snuffles from Rick and Morty Season 1, Episode 2: “Lawnmover Dog.”
In that story, Rick gives the family dog an intelligence-boosting helmet, which Snuffles then uses to take over the world with an army of hyper-intelligent canines. His love for Morty ultimately leads him to safely migrate his people into an alternate dimension. This Rick and Morty character and his special bond to his owner reflects Roiland’s own love for his real-life pets, Jerry and Pup Pup.
The character designs for all these dogs are based on Roiland’s dogs. Does that mean the Trover Saves the Universe protagonist is a version of Roiland himself?
4. Justin Roiland Is Obsessed With “Eyeholes” for Some Reason
Justin Roiland first developed some creepy jokes about eyeholes in Rick and Morty’s second season during “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate”, and he recycles the idea for a core mechanic in Trover Saves the Universe.
One character from an alternate Rick and Morty dimension is called the Eyehole Man, and he beats anyone up who eats the gross fictional cereal Eyeholes. In one in-universe television commercial, that includes a pair of aliens with eyeholes on their face.
Trover Saves the Universe riffs on this uncomfortable piece of body horror humor in a similar way. Trover is a purple eye-hole monster who can shove Power Babies into his eyes to acquire different abilities. So the player spends much of the game hunting for these little creatures. Similarly, Glorkon the villainous Abstainer is able to shove the player’s dogs into his eyes to gain enough power to potentially destroy the universe. We may never understand why Roiland is so obsessed with all this eyehole talk, but it’s definitely a recurring theme in his work.
3. Trover’s Shleemy World Has Rick and Morty Roots
After first teaming up with Trover, leaving your home planet, and picking up an assignment from Trover’s boss, your next stop in Trover Saves the Universe is a planet called “Shleemy World.”
Shleemypants is the name of the being more commonly remembered as the Fourth Dimensional Testicle Monster from the Rick and Morty Season 2 premiere. Shleem is also a crumb-like substance integral when crafting a Plumbus. Like many fun sci-fi terms from Rick and Morty, Shleem just feels like a silly nonsense word that Roiland loves to say.
2. Trover’s Flesh World Feels Like a More Disturbing “Anatomy Park”
One world later in Trover Saves the Universe feels like you’re moving about in an enormous body — or conversely that you’ve been shrunk down inside some kind of organism. This sci-fi concept has been explored many times before, but particularly in Rick and Morty Season 1’s “Anatomy Park,” when Rick forces Morty to go inside an amusement park he built inside someone.
In a video for GameSpot, Buddy Hutton says that Flesh World looks like “Anatomy Park that was Cronenberg’d,” referring to the phenomenon that nearly destroys Morty’s home reality in Rick and Morty Season 1’s “Rick Potion #9” A mutated flu virus transforms almost the entire world population into monstrous versions of themselves.
1. Trover’s Production Mirrored Rick and Morty’s Improvisational Style
Rick and Morty already has a novel production format that incorporates Justin Roiland’s improvisational comedic style, favoring jokes and adjusting the animation to accommodate them. Trover Saves the Universe similarly had to change up the game design to make this work. This one’s hardly an Easter egg, but it helps establish how and why the show and game feel so similar.
Rather than produce the game and then add tightly-scripted dialogue at the end of production, Trover Saves the Universe was designed around Roiland’s improvised jokes.
“It lends a more natural, unexpected tone. Most video games are tightly scripted. They record exactly what they need, [and] it gets cut into the game at the very end. In this case, we were recording from Day 1,” Roiland explained to Tom’s Guide. “It was a very different process from traditional game development in that regard. The entire studio rolled with it.”
During a Reddit AMA, Squanch Games’ Tanya Watson wrote, “We had to figure out how to change our entire production process to assume getting audio in as quickly as possible in order to serve the comedy.” This unconventional production style led to about 20 hours of dialogue for a 6-hour game, culminating in long stretches of branching dialogue if the player waits around during certain encounters or takes the time to explore various areas and side characters.
Trover Saves the Universe is out now for PlayStation 4 and PSVR with a PC released scheduled for June 4.