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High On Life Has No Problem Crossing This Invisible Line

The video game industry is no stranger to controversy. From characters deemed offensive or inappropriate to features that drew the ire of fans and critics, conflict is quite common. There are also those games and developers that seek to push the limits and redefine what is acceptable in the medium. In the '90s, the "Mortal Kombat" franchise tested the boundaries of violence and gore in games. More recently, games have been introducing more nudity and sexual elements with mixed results. One unspoken rule that is seemingly never crossed in mainstream games, however, is that children are off limits when it comes to violence.

Developers tend not say it explicitly, but most gamers recognize this invisible line. Players discuss it and debate it. Commentators like Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation have joked about it. Games almost never cross this line.

This isn't a problem for "High On Life," however. The new game from Justin Roiland, of "Rick and Morty" fame, doesn't just cross this line, it gleefully struts across it.

High On Life lets you kill a kid and even calls attention to it

In an encounter that players can experience while traveling through the slums, they will be confronted by an obnoxious alien child that taunts them, literally daring them to shoot. The sentient gun the player carries attempts to dissuade the player from responding to the provocation. If one persists, however, they will be able to finally shoot the child who will quickly fall over. The gun will respond by scolding the player, even breaking the fourth wall to make a joke about not usually being allowed to kill children in games.

It's this self-referential, some would say edgy, humor that has critics so divided. This moment, in particular, has also drawn distinctly mixed reactions from fans.

Some find this style of humor more boring than actually edgy. Others are comparing it to the jokes in "Borderlands 3" as a point of criticism. Some find it goes beyond dull to being outright obnoxious. On the other hand, plenty of people found the moment, and overall style of the game, hilarious. The fact that this scene, and the achievement associated with it, call out this unspoken rule in games is what makes it so funny for some gamers.

Arguably, this moment and the debate around it sum up the mixed feelings about "High On Life" and Roiland-style humor in general. Some get a kick out of seeing boundaries crossed, but others see it as being edgy for the sake of it. Every gamer will have to play for themselves to decide which side they fall on.