It’s been about seven years since I last watched Rick and Morty – Justin Roiland’s TV show that airs on Adult Swim. A critically acclaimed series, I liked the prospect of Justin Roiland having his own videogame.
As it turns out, the game is deeply disappointing when it comes to its humour, comedy, and delivery – but I’ll talk about that later.
Good thing there are some positive parts of High On Life that I can write about. The gameplay has some fun elements about it. You can juggle enemies after launching them up and kill them from in the air, you can hook around different areas with a knife that you can also stab people with, as well as four other guns with abilities such as slowing down platforms and mind control that still act as normal guns (like Borderlands). It’s fun but can get a bit repetitive at times as most enemies only take around four shots or a headshot to kill. Some of the boss fights are fun, whilst some are just annoying to fight. The first gun that you acquire, Kenny, has antennas that move to be sights that you can aim down, which is a cool little touch.
It becomes apparent very quickly throughout the game that Roiland’s range of characterisation is precisely two people: Rick and Morty. This isn’t like J.K Simmons where you’ll hear him in Portal 2 and think it’s Jameson from Spider-Man, or think Nolan Grayson from Invincible is Jameson – Roiland speaks in the exact same way that Rick and Morty do throughout the entire game. The same tone, the same jokes, the same cadence.
The exact same joke structure is ran into the ground so many times unnecessarily that it becomes extremely awkward and hard to listen to; stuttering, swearing, punchlines that don’t land (if there even are any???) – there are no layers to any of it. It is so overwhelmingly stale, boring, and unamusing that it was just better off for me to turn off the gun voices and enemy voices because none of it was worth the excruciating torture that I felt trying to listen to it.
For the story, it kind of just happens? There’s no exposition or explanation to what’s going on and when the dialogue is as atrocious as it is already where everything is a joke with no punchline, trying to care about any narrative is impossible when it’s a chore just to get through any of the main character voices. Between the story and the humour, there’s a complete disconnect to what the game is trying to be and what is actually is. The idea of a human turned alien bounty hunter sounds fun, but its execution through Roiland’s dry comedy routine is what lets it down.
Something that I really do enjoy about the game is its art style and graphics. It’s very cartoonish, but looks amazing. Though not exactly the same, it reminds me of Splatoon’s art style (in a good way!) and exploring the main hub world known as Blim City. The city has some silly little things that you can find, such as Little Shitaly – the home to some small aliens that you can initially find walking around your house farting everywhere – a joke so horrendous and dumb that it was the only time throughout the entire game that I laughed.
Smaller places within the city such as the Slums still look good despite not having such vibrant colours, and still manage to stand out fairly well and look nice.
As you go throughout the game, you’ll be able to visit different planets where you’ll have to complete bounties, and those planets are just as good looking, if not better looking than Blim City.
Even the first section of the game that you’re in, a neighbourhood on Earth that you only see for around five or so minutes, is very lovely to look at and features nice vibrant colours that become even more vibrant when you stumble upon Blim City. If there’s one positive thing to take away from High On Life, it’s how visually appealing it is.
Unfortunately, it seems that the team behind this game were much more comfortable modelling aliens than humans because your friend, Lizzie, has an awfully modelled face and facial animations compared to the rest of the characters in the game. Not only that, but there’s no FOV slider, and it’s quite easily to find game-breaking bugs and ending up softlocking yourself in places, glitching out of the world and unable to progress through the game.
It’s almost impressive that a game advertised purely on its comedic value can be so devoid of humour in any way possible. None of the jokes are funny, and I didn’t laugh once. Roiland’s performance as the main character is an almost perfect example that meta humour and self-deprecating comedy is a trend that died out many years ago, and revolving almost an entire game around such a thing is like putting sprinkles on a wet turd.
For a game made by an acclaimed comedian, I was hoping it would be funny. All High On Life is a somewhat mediocre unreal engine game with horrendous jokes that feels like it was made by bored gamer with a funny concept as opposed to a proper game development company.
My recommendation would be to mute the character voices as soon as possible, pretend the story doesn’t exist, and just enjoy the gameplay for what it is: An okay first-person shooter that doesn’t justify its large pricetag where the gameplay is servicable and the environment looks amazing.