If you’re not a fan of Justin Roiland’s brand of fourth-wall-breaking, improvisational voiceover work, his new VR game, Trover Saves the Universe, definitely won’t change your mind. But if you’re already a Rick and Morty aficionado, consider Trover an hours-long “Interdimensional Cable” sketch. Debuted at Sony’s press briefing at E3, the game is the latest from Squanch Games, a studio Roiland and former Epic Games developer Tanya Watson founded in 2016 to bring comedy experiences to the VR space.
“Narrative is our No. 1 pillar,” says lead designer Erich Meyr. “It’s all about the jokes. It’s all about the humor.”
In the reveal trailer, the ill-fated Bathtub Guy controls purple blob man Trover as he navigates “some action platforming stuff.” With Bathtub Guy out of the picture as of the end of that trailer, the controller is up for grabs. Gameplay in Trover is a third-person/first-person combination. The player embodies a character who is a person in a chair playing a video game, and that gamer controls the third-person character of Trover. It’s a little convoluted to explain, but basically, it allows Trover, voiced by Roiland, to talk directly to you about the game and its controls.
Everything in the playable demo was presented with a wink to the game’s development. Trover asks the player directly to perform certain gameplay actions, mocks the demo’s overeager quest-giver character, and encourages the player to skip the developer’s puzzles. To give a more pointed example of the self-awareness on display, the E3 demo ends with Trover himself declaring Trover Saves the Universe the game of the show.
Creating a game around all of Roiland’s ad-libbing was no small feat. “It’s certainly a challenge, but it’s a good challenge to have,” Meyr says. “We work by saying like, ‘Hey, here’s the confines of what we’re trying to say in this scene,’ and then in the recording booth, we’re like, ‘let’s go crazy with it.’”
No release date has been announced for the game, but it will be available to play on PS4 and PlayStation VR.