The last significant game release I couldn’t quite stuff into last year’s schedule was High on Life, a comedy sci-fi first person shooter by Justin Roiland, creator of the popular show Rick and Morty

19.01.2023 0 By admin

Well, I hope we’re all finished with our elves on shelves and our relatives on sedatives because now the holidays are over it’s time to address the last few stragglers still hanging unfulfilled from 2022 like a disappointed baby on a corpse’s tit.

The last significant game release I couldn’t quite stuff into last year’s schedule was High on Life, a comedy sci-fi first person shooter by Justin Roiland, creator of the popular show Rick and Morty, as well as such timeless comedy characters as…

Rick and Morty.

And to which he has brought his full repertoire
of hilarious voices, including…

Rick and the other one.

Yeah, this is one of those situations where we
bring out the algebra equation: if you’re a fan

of X then you’ll enjoy Y because Y equals X over
2.6 recurring.

Having said that, I do like Rick and Morty as
adult cartoons go.

I know it’s gone through the cycle a few times of
being cool to like and then cool to hate and then

cool to ironically like and then straight cool to
like again, but I think it’s been relatively

consistent, obviously not as good as it was at
first but it’s not at the Simpsons level where

all the voice actors sound like they’re
performing with guns to their heads.

Anything aiming to be a full on “comedy game” is
to be celebrated if you ask me, or comedy

anything for that matter, we seem to be past the
age of movies like The Naked Gun when comedy

could be a genre in itself rather than just the
reason why Marvel superheroes all talk like 90s

sitcom characters.

Having said that, it’s a pain to have to do a
comedy review of a comedy game, because if it is

funny you feel redundant and if it isn’t, it’s
just depressing.

You can’t mine gags out of failed comedy, it’s
like trying to tap dance after you’ve cut your

own knob off.

Most people will just plead for you to stop while
they call the carpet cleaning service.

So, is High on Life funny?

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That will entirely depend on how tiresome you
find the Rick and Morty “we don’t give a shit

come and look at us not giving a shit not that we
give a shit if you do” sort of vibe where

characters keep lengthily explaining what they’re
currently doing like an improv comedian stalling

until the ambulance arrives to sew their knob
back on, but the odd thing is, it works for me.

Yes, I’ve unloaded dumptrucks of lukewarm shit
onto games like Borderlands that think all you

have to do to be funny is talk like a socially
awkward person binging on cocaine in the Buffy

the Vampire Slayer writers room,

and what with the central gimmick of High on Life
being that your guns are alive and constantly

giving advice and commentary, it certainly is a
disciple of the verbal dysentery school of

humour, but it gets away from the Borderlands
comparison on two fronts: one, the comedic tone

actually infuses the whole game so the jokey
facetious dialogue never feels like something

merely drizzled on top of an otherwise dull
experience like red pepper flakes on a block of

gelatinised cum, and the writing and performance
doesn’t feel so much like it’s trying too hard.

Because as we’ve established, not giving a shit
is sort of the core philosophy behind all this.

The plot is, we play an ordinary suburban shlub
whose face we can pick from a small range of

options, but it’s first person and we never speak
so we never see it again and choosing had as much

point as a slurpee machine at an antarctic
research station.

We’re going about our ordinary suburban shlub
existence when aliens conquer the Earth and begin

harvesting humanity because our bodies somehow
function as narcotics upon alien biology.

So the aliens are literally getting High on Life.

So we’re basing our entire plot around that one
weak pun, are we.

“Certainly are, Yahtz!
Why, do you give a shit?”

Me? No!
I’m cool, High on Life.

I was just imagining what it would be like to be
one of those lame kids who do give a shit.

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Anyway, we escape to an alien planet, join forces
with a sentient talking gun and begin a campaign

to violently murder our way through the various
members of the alien drug cartel in an area about

midway between Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
and basically every Adult Swim show.

Where everyone and everything is named in that
idiosyncratic Justin Roiland way that always

sounds like he’s making it up on the spot.

Yes, we must go to planet Booblyboo.

And defeat the evil Doctor Dingledangs.

“You’re starting to sound dangerously like you
give a shit, Yahtz.”

Oh, piss off, High on Life.

As I said, I do still kinda like Rick and Morty
and academically I appreciate the way the breezy

naturalistic dialogue knows exactly when a casual
insertion of the word “fucking” can get a cheap laugh.

So I didn’t mind that the guns talk, it’s a good
vehicle for all of that and a fun twist on the

silent protagonist dynamic.

I do mind that they kinda suck as guns.

And that’s doubly awkward because they have the
ability to take that personally.

As far as the combat goes the closest equivalent
would be something like Halo, nice environments,

nice vibes, shame the guns feel like spraypainted
polystyrene.

There’s no satisfying weight or impact to any of
them.

There’s only four of the things, because I
suppose anything more would have stretched the

voice acting budget: The starting pistol might as
well be firing kidney stones, I’m not entirely

convinced that the shotgun is doing anything
besides break wind, the rapid fire pistol’s

probably the best one on offer but then there’s
the token exotic thing that fires little men that

jump on enemies and pull on their moustaches, but
my rule of thumb for guns is that anything that

adds extra steps between pull the trigger and
thing dies is going to spend most of its time

mouldering in the holster like an undocumented
willy at a rug munching contest.

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But you do eventually unlock a suite of fun
traversal powers so you can get your catharsis

from double jumping, grapple hooking or Vanquish-
style rocket trousers if not from aggressively

masturbating the narrator in the face of several
reject McDonaldland mascots.

Make it past the initial selection process by
putting up with all the fucking jabbering and we

have a game that is, to package my summary
succinctly, fun.

The campaign has a fun ebb and flow of amusing
set pieces and it’s fun to pore through looking

for funny background details and hidden
dialogues.

It does fall apart a bit at the end when you
confront the final boss, and then you kill the

final boss, and that’s it.

Well, duh, Yahtzee, you didn’t expect to kill
them as part of the second act denouement?

I know, it’s just it feels like the game has to
try to make us start giving a shit about the

climax out of nowhere when it’s spent the last
ten hours reinforcing how little faeces it is

willing to distribute, and anticlimax is
inevitable, especially when the boss isn’t the

least bit challenging and folds like an ironing
board in Princess Diana’s luggage.

Then you’re spat back into the game to look for
the last few collectibles, which I tokenly

attempted before I realised there was no map or
way to figure out where to even start looking for

them, so I left the game with a disappointed
sense of “Guess I’ll just stop, then.”

The lesson here is that, while you might have
fun along the way, it’s ultimately more

fulfilling to give a shit.

That’s as true for everyday life as it is for
bathroom visits at three in the morning.