Trover Saves the Universe is insane. It basically feels like a playable episode of Rick and Morty. The animation style is the same, the humor is the same, and heck, you’ll even hear Roiland use both Rick’s voice (on certain enemies) and Morty’s (Trover himself). I am left to genuinely wonder if the only reason it isn’t a Rick and Morty game is because Roiland didn’t want to share the profits with Adult Swim and/or he didn’t want their corporate approval process slowing him down.
Anyway, all of that is to say that Trover Saves the Universe is hilarious. I don’t laugh out loud at games nearly as often as I’d like, and without a doubt, Trover got more audible, involuntary laughter out of me than any game since Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s last two South Park RPGs. My demo of Trover – the full game is out on May 31 for PS4 and PSVR – was with Tanya Watson, co-founder and studio director of Roiland’s game development house, Squanchtendo. Watson confirmed what I suspected while laughing my way through Trover’s first proper mission: that Roiland ad-libbed all of the dialogue. The designers sketched out levels and gameplay based on a high-level outline, and then Roiland came in, played it, and hopped into the VO booth to record lines for literally every conceivable scenario. And he did it on the fly. Think of it as a Curb Your Enthusiasm kind of approach, which is both amazing and difficult to pull off. Roiland and Squanchtendo seem to be well on their way to doing just that.
How much of this game’s value is in the dialogue? Plenty, as the gameplay is fairly straightforward. It’s a standard third-person action-adventure, in which you control Trover from your chair (you’re a Chairopean; picture the lazy humans in Wall-E), navigating him through hack-and-slash enemies and platforming obstacles. I had a particularly hilarious run-in with Upgrade Tony, the guy (well, he’s not human; no one in this game is) who runs the weapon and character upgrade stand. Without spoiling it, it involved his dogs…
Anyway, each level also has a spate of collectibles to find, as well, with Squanchtendo promising a worthwhile reward if you snag every hidden item in the entire game. Trover doesn’t aspire to be God of War in the gameplay department, clearly, but you’ll nevertheless want to replay it multiple times if you’re a fan of Roiland’s humor. Why? Because Watson told me that though Trover packs about eight hours of gameplay, it’s loaded up with about 20 hours of dialogue. What Trover or other characters say varies wildly depending on where you are, where they are, what each of you is doing, how long you’re waiting to do it, etc. Throughout my demo, Watson kept mentioning how she hadn’t heard a particular line I triggered yet in that day of giving wall-to-wall demos to media outlets, and I’m quite sure she wasn’t pulling my leg.
When I asked about the improvised dialogue, Watson told me that, in the first area I played (which involved getting my hands on the Crystal of Ithicles, Roiland had gone back and redone the voicework upwards of ten times since work on that area began. The result is, as I mentioned, the sound and vibe of a playable Rick and Morty episode, with one key difference: if that first mission (and the uncensored trailer embedded near the top of this page) is any indication, it might be the most profane video game ever made – a title that I imagine is proudly held by the aforementioned Stone and Parker on The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole. Sure, you can turn on censored dialogue, and maybe it’ll end up being even funnier for some people with the bleeps activated.
I could listen to Roiland’s humor all day, and Trover Saves the Universe promises just that, almost literally. I’ll be keeping my eyes on – and my seven-year-old daughter away from – this one.
Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s Executive Editor of Previews. Follow him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan, catch him on Unlocked, and drop-ship him Taylor Ham sandwiches from New Jersey whenever possible.
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