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Fans Split Over High On Life's Dig At Video Game Critics

The sci-fi comedy shooter "High on Life" is proving to be a bit of a divisive game for many reasons. For one, it's a game from the mind of Justin Roiland, longtime voice actor now mostly known for playing both lead characters in "Rick and Morty." Roiland has a particular brand of comedy that doesn't jive with everybody — and his iconic high-pitched, grating, and stammering voices have gotten stale for some. That's not to say it's an unfunny game as a whole, as plenty of people love it. "High on Life" just speaks to some people more than others. On the other hand, though, there are some parts of the game that even its biggest fans have a hard time defending.

Some of the most commonly criticized parts of "High on Life" dialogue comes from its meta-comedy, jokes that break the fourth wall and reference itself as a video game, like when players stab Gene. One line in particular has been drawing a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. After the player comes across yet another pipe during a repetitive sequence, Roiland's character Kenny shoulds out the "lazy game development" and calls on prominent gaming news outlets Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN to "knock us down a couple points." 

High on Life calls out its own lazy game design

In a particularly viral tweet that responded to a clip of this particular bit of dialogue, former Giant Bomb journalist Ben Pack compared it to the site's review of 2009's "Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard" — an apt comparison as a comedy shooter with meta references and a big name attached to it. Pack recalled that "the worst thing a game can do is break the third wall and point out something bad in it, because you still have to play it."

When the fourth wall is broken, characters reference the audience — when the third wall is broken, characters reference the medium they are in — in this case, a video game. Essentially, the fact that Roiland's character identifies the bad game design and owns up to it isn't enough to justify it. 

Lots of fans and critics alike agreed with this sentiment, and lots of responses specifically brought up "The Stanley Parable" as an example of meta comedy done right. Some users described this "High on Life" dialogue as lampshading, an attempt to soften criticism which backfires because the problem isn't actually addressed. Others questioned whether there was any effort put into the joke, and many compared it to "Borderlands" dialogue that some consider cringey and too self-referential. 

For the most part, meta jokes in the game land — even if "High on Life" crosses the line sometimes. But fans and critics seem to agree that making players go through these "lazy" parts of the game, even after criticizing them, is not so funny.