'Trover Saves the Universe' Review: Even More Meta Than 'Rick and Morty'
With Justin Roiland voicing most of the characters in both Rick and Morty and the new game Trover Saves the Universe, you can’t help but compare the two) as you navigate through Trover’s universe full of Glorkon clones, eyehole monsters, power babies, and a Chairorpian hero who really loves his two white dogs. Roiland infuses both with his chaotic comedic style, a natural fit for meditations on nihilism, but Trover Saves the Universe doubles down on meta jokes to take things so much further.
Like Deadpool and other fourth-wall breaking characters in genre fiction, Rick Sanchez on Rick and Morty knows that he’s on a TV show, using that self-awareness to poke fun at the viewer and talk directly to them to make meta-commentary.
If you were to say that Rick and Morty breaks the fourth wall for the occasional joke, then you could also say Trover Saves the Universe smashes through that wall screaming like the Kool-Aid Man to throw poop directly into our faces — because that’s what happens barely an hour into Trover Saves the Universe.
You’re playing this VR-optional game, and then a character throws poop into your face.
It’s one of the many ways that Trover Saves the Universe compromises how we look at games to say something profound about the concept of gaming itself. Why is this in VR? Why did this guy just throw poop in your face? Is it okay to kill him because of it?
In Trover Saves the Universe, a cosmic being named Glorkon has abandoned his three fellow Abstainers, stolen the player’s two dogs, and shoved them into his eyeholes to gain immense power with which he can destroy the universe. You play as a Chairorpian, an alien bound to a chair who holds what looks like a PlayStation 4 controller to interact with your world. You even use it to control Trover, the purple eyehole monster you’re tasked with teaming up with to save the universe.
By its very premise, Trover Saves the Universe makes you a weak chair-bound humanoid controlling someone else to do all the hard work with a joystick. This is every video game ever.
The meta-commentary is so naturally engrained into the foundations of the game that it suffocates you with its humor in the kind of brain-aching way that stoners thrive on.
From the first new world you venture to in Trover Saves the Universe, you’re immediately harassed by a floating alien called Mr. Popup. He’s a stickler for zoning regulations (another alien named Michael built a house on a bluff that’s not zoned for residential usage). “It’s zoned for public use, and I’m very upset about it!” Mr. Popup screams at you in a shrill voice. If you try to ignore him or move away, he follows and keeps shouting. You even get an achievement if you calmly listen to his entire rant.
Many of the deepest Easter eggs and surprises in Trover Saves the Universe are hidden far into pieces of dialogue just like this. Mere moments before this encounter, Trover engages in a heated argument with his boss. They both scream at you to push a button so you can leave. But if you don’t, you can eavesdrop on a progressively more ridiculous fight that just goes on and on. (Squanch Games revealed in a Reddit AMA that Roiland recorded 20 hours of dialogue for a game that lasts less than half as long when streamlined.)
Later, when you meet Mr. Popup’s nemesis Michael, he gets irritated at you for harassing him and throws poop directly in your face. You’re eventually given the choice: Kill Michael and the pregnant women he’s keeping prisoner by pushing his house off the ledge or knock a boulder off a ledge and onto Mr. Popup’s house to kill him. You can even kill both of them. Trover leads us to believe that these choices have consequences like in every other game, except here they dont.
Everything is meaningless.
Regardless of what you choose, Mr. Popup and Michael both later appear in the afterlife as great friends. This is one of the many ways that Trover Saves the Universe supports the same ethos as Rick and Morty, that nothing matters in an infinite universe, so why don’t you just come watch TV play this VR-optional game?
Ultimately, Trover Saves the Universe is a must-play for any Rick and Morty fan that happens to have PSVR. Even beyond that very niche cross-section of people, it’s a hilarious and entertaining game that’s just short enough to feel like a delight for anyone into this kind of humor.
Trover Saves the Universe is out now for PlayStation 4 and PC.