If you own a virtual reality headset and play games, chances are you’ve experienced something Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland has had a hand – or at least a voice — in. From Accounting to Hover Junkers, The Lab to Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, Roiland is prolific in the VR scene, and even started his own VR-focused company: Squanch Games (formerly Squanchtendo but they changed the name after a small upstart with a similar moniker decided to get into video game development). Squanch’s next game — Trover Saves the Universe (TSTU) — was recently revealed at E3, where I had a chance to sit down with the Squanch team and get some hands-on and eyes-within-eyes time with TSTU.
The backstory to Trover Saves the Universe is one we can all relate to, whether we have kids or pets or neither. The power-hungry Glorkon has stolen your precious pups, scooping them up and placing them into his eye sockets so he can use their lifeforce in an attempt to take over the universe. You have to team up with Trover, a purple cosmic being with two little faces for eyes (sticking things in your eye holes is important in this universe, you see), to thwart Glorkon and get your doggos back safe and sound. Video games! Amirite?
You are “the man in the chair.” Literally a man who also just happens to be in a chair. I mean, what’s to get, right? It’s pretty much spelled out for you. Because of your chair-boundedness, you don’t walk around the colorful landscape yourself. Rather, you control Trover. While TSTU takes place in a first-person perspective from your chair, it plays very much like a third-person platformer as you move your purple buddy around the world and warp to him when he gets to certain defined points.
While primarily a 3D platformer, there are also myriad puzzles to solve in TSTU, both action-oriented and brain teasers. You might have to send Trover through a pack of ghastly gremlins, or solve a Witness-style tile puzzle. One such puzzle in the demo was a series of three grid sequences in which I had to light all of the corresponding squares to open a door. Trover isn’t all that patient during the puzzle parts though, and encouraged me to skip the last of the progressive sequences by screaming something along the lines of “Fuck it, let’s just bust through this thing!” while tearing the door off its hinges. Whatever works, right?
Since Roiland is involved, you can expect a lot of over-the-top humor driven by peculiar, rambling creatures who prattle on through a series of non-sequitors seemingly uninterested in your own plight to find your dogs. One character I met in my demo was the aptly named Mr. Pop-up, an annoying little orange guy with a band-aid over where his winkle would be if he follows the standards of human anatomy. But who knows, there might be a little face with two eyes for eyes down there. He continually popped-up and followed my gaze in VR, regaling me with tales of how his favorite spot on the hill was taken by Michael, who built a house on what was his favorite scenic viewpoint. As Mr. Pop-up puts it, “Michael is a real asshole,” and from the story I heard, I tend to agree. While I didn’t get to go through the full sequence of helping Mr. Pop-up deal with Michael, this seemed like one of the side quests you’re likely to encounter in TSTU.
In addition to his constant badgering, Mr. Pop-up also bestowed upon me the ability to rise up and down in my chair, allowing for a better perch for leading Trover around the map. In addition to your own powers, you’ll find “power babies” along the way that Trover can shove into his eye holes to gain their special abilities. Again with the eyes and things in eyes and things with eyes in eyes. It’s a very ocular-centric spot in the universe, but who am I to judge?
While we only got to see a very limited gameplay demo, it’s safe to say the game will entertain you if you’re a fan of Roiland’s comedic style. Trover Saves the Universe is coming to PSVR sometime in 2019, and you can play on the PS4 outside of VR, as well.
What do you think about Trover Saves the Universe and/or other game Justin Roiland has appeared in? Let us know down in the comments below!