Tuesday, May 28, 2019

"Trover Saves the Universe" Review

Building on the comedic breakthrough of the "South Park" RPGs, "Trover Saves the Universe" proves once again that a game can be just as funny as an animated series, as long as the entire production prioritizes the artistic vision above all else.

From the jump, it's obvious that Justin Roiland channeled his unadulterated comedic genius into "Trover Saves the Universe," and the payoff comes in the same flow of constant next-level laughs infused in the DNA of "Rick and Morty." As with that show, Roiland voices the characters. He grants the lead character the same whiny, Marty McFly-style as Morty, making no effort to change what works so well in the first medium Roiland came to dominate.

The advantage that "Trover Saves the Universe" has over "Rick and Morty" is that you're an active participant in the mayhem. At times, you're the instigator of the jokes, and often you're the butt of them. Every step of the way, the tone and pace of the humor is a sharp, astute reaction to your subtly manipulated influence, and the result is nothing short of a comedic masterwork.

In an effort to reach out to the widest possible audience, developer Squanch Games provides the option to play a version of the game with toned-down vulgarity. Some may dismiss the mode as a copout, but I see it as a Trojan Horse that will lure in timid players who think they're not ready for Roiland's brand of satirical, sci-fi savagery. Few will play the game and wilfully pass up the opportunity to experience the comedic genius in its pure, intended form, and even those who play through the PG-rated version of the game will no doubt re-up with the vulgar mode in order to see what they missed out on.

As you play through the game, you almost feel guilty for pushing the story forward. Standing around, doing dumb things and backtracking is a way to trigger some of the most incisive material, sparking banter that makes you glad you spun your wheels rather than forged ahead.

"Trover Saves the Universe" is a sucker punch of precision, impossibly brilliant and effortlessly clever and observant writing. It's one of those rare treasures that comes along all too rarely, and more than enough justification for the interminable wait in between seasons of "Rick and Morty."

Publisher provided review code.