Creating a decent video game that is engaging and fun is a challenging task. Even more challenging is creating a game that is engaging, fun and downright funny throughout the course of its runtime. The last two South Park games did this effortlessly. And I loved them for what they were. So, the idea of a game that features the talents of Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, with his signature brand of comedy did sound intriguing. Throw in the fact that this would also be a VR experience, only helped heighten said intrigue. Having finished the game in a brief six-hour sit through I can say that this game does not disappoint, although it is not without its flaws.
I need to begin by stating the obvious here that this game not for everyone. And that statements applies to multiple aspects of the game like its target demographic which are adults only, to the offbeat brand of humour (which is not as sharp as the show) that you would either love or hate, to the structure of the game and its mechanics which have been executed keeping in mind that this is best experienced on Virtual Reality, therefore foregoing what one would consider a traditional control scheme and gameplay mechanics. And this also applies to one of the games most ridiculous aspects which are its…..
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If you know about Rick and Morty and if that was what drew you towards this game, then you would know what to expect in terms of story. And it would be best to be in the right mindset while you’re launching the game. The plot revolves around Trover whose dogs have been stolen by an evil alien who gains God-like powers by placing those dogs in his empty eye sockets. Yes, you read that right.
Joining Trover in his quest to retrieve his dogs and save the universe in the process is you the player, a ‘chairorpian’ who always sits on his chair/couch, which is this games version of a mute protagonist who does others’ chores. Needless to say, the setting is less James Bond and more Austin Powers, and the game does tend to make the most of it, most of the times. The game is so self-aware that it constantly pokes fun at its own story and that this is a video game. And the events that occur in the game range from the mundane to downright ridiculous. One moment you are collecting a ‘hidden’ collectible which is placed right in front of you, and the other you just realise that you played through a whole planet to obtain a crystal which a character removes from his butt, only to find something even more shocking shortly after.
There is so much potty mouthed humour here to keep you giggling throughout the course of the game if you are into such things. Not all the jokes and gags land though. Some characters who are funny in the first few minutes just go on and on to the point that they get really annoying. And if you have a small threshold for such things this could really get in the way of you having fun with this game. That said, the game’s brand of dark comedy will keep most of the players pleased.
Throughout the story, you will be visiting various planets which look and feel distinct keeping the game fresh. And you the chairorpian will be controlling both your self and Trover with a cleverly implemented control scheme that only needs a little getting used to. Abilities for both are acquired at a steady pace throughout the game although nothing very special is on offer. But what is offered does make up for a good set of tools towards the often-well-done platforming sections, combat and puzzles. Combat starts out quite basic, but gradually gains some depth thanks to a clever blend of combat moves from Trover and your abilities, like pulling or throwing stuff.
As a chairorpian, your abilities are limited though, and you can only be mobile by warping through certain points in each map. However, this does not come in the way of the gameplay and is well executed for the most part. You also acquire the ability to hover your chair to different heights which provides 3 distinct perspectives that help in navigating Trover, puzzle solving and combat.
The aforementioned collectables are sometimes very on-the-nose, but also cleverly hidden in a lot of cases pushing you to explore if you are a completionist. There is not much in the way of challenge through combat or puzzles though, save for a few instances, and the game does feel like it is being the jack of all trades trying to mix all the elements together. The push and pull ability, in particular, felt a bit too clunky which sometimes resulted in frustrating moments. That said the system as a whole work for the most part and you will feel at home with the controls within an hour into the game.
The distinct art style of Rick and Morty transitions well into 3D. And while not the most beautiful game out there, the game does look great.
Needless to say, the best way to experience this game would be through VR, but it is also playable in non-VR mode. The good thing though is that somehow the trade-off does not seem all that bad in non-VR mode. The game’s mechanics complement both modes just as well. In terms of sound, I would have preferred a button to shut some NPCs’ mouths. Other than that, the game does a good job overall.
Trover saves the universe is not for everyone. The game is a short and often times not so challenging experience. That said, what is on offer makes up for a decent action platformer to sit through on a rainy afternoon that does not push your skills to the limits. However, if you love the kind of potty-mouthed dark humour from Rick and Morty and have invested in a VR headset, this is a must play.