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High On Life Review: A Rick And Morty Dimension To Pass On

EDITORS' RATING : 5 / 10
Pros
  • Justin Roiland's touch is apparent
  • A world plucked right out of "Rick and Morty"
Cons
  • Humor and overall design feel one-note and predictable
  • Weakly established narrative and characters
  • Shallow world-building

If you're booting up "High on Life" this weekend, you probably know exactly what you're getting into. Squanch Games' second major release, "High on Life" takes Justin Roiland's humor, voice acting, and overall creative design and puts players in another dimension that you would almost expect to find within the "Rick and Morty" multiverse. Unfortunately, whereas "Trover Saves the Universe" felt like a well-crafted and original journey, "High on Life" feels like it falls a bit short in its execution. At the very least, "High on Life" doesn't seem to bring much of anything new to the table.

In "High on Life," you take on the role of a so-called "bounty hunter" who is, in reality, an ambition high school graduate who just kind of happens into their new hero role thanks to a hostile alien takeover that takes place the second their parents go out of town.

The game is set in an alien world, of course, but it follows the same basic structure as Squanch's previous game. You'll find yourself fighting enemies with goofy or ironic names, solving puzzles, and collecting items as you progress through the story. "High on Life" does switch up the perspective from "Trover" by going from third-person view to a first-person view, giving you the opportunity to explore the world in a more immersive way, but it doesn't really feel too different from the "Trover" experience.

Justin Roiland's signature humor is apparent throughout

Absurd dialogue, third and fourth-wall-breaking jokes, and of course the trademark "out of left field" stylings of works like "Rick and Morty" are all present in "High on Life." It's entertaining for what it is, but it's not as unique or interesting as the irreverent wit in "Trover," or the long game that the "Rick and Morty" storyline has continued to build over the course of its episodes and seasons. It's a lot easier to care less about the characters in "High on Life" because everyone seems to be expendable, regardless of whether or not your main weapon — a fleshy pistol named Kenny (that oozes Morty vibes both in personality and nearly identical-sounding voice) — deems them as such.

Of course, we'd be remiss to ignore the discourse surrounding one of the game's early scenes in which you're able to kill a kid. The scene is obviously meant to be a line-crossing joke and is as about as self-aware as you can get. However, it's a wildly unnecessary moment that ultimately feels like a brushed-off and lazy attempt at shock value, and is especially gross considering the real-world circumstances that we continue to face on a daily basis.

Moving on from that, this time around, the jokes feel a bit strained. There are a handful of laugh-out-loud moments, but a lot of the dialogue feels pretty predictable. Of course, that's part of Roiland's charm and why "Rick and Morty" continues to garner critical acclaim every single season. It's just that "High on Life" feels a bit more formulaic in its delivery and it's hard to be surprised by anything that happens.

It's an FPS, alright

"High on Life" is absolutely gorgeous with its vibrant colors and varied environments. Every area has something new to look at and the art style fits perfectly within the world of "Rick and Morty." Maybe that's an easy thing to say, but it really does look and feel like it belongs there (or at least is something that one might come across while surfing interdimensional cable).

As far as the gameplay goes, "High on Life" is an FPS, plain and simple. You point your sentient guns at enemies and shoot them, or else use them as platforming tools to find secret areas and traverse levels. It's a basic formula, but it works well in the context of the game and I found myself wanting more of these types of puzzles and platforming segments throughout. The combat is also serviceable, but it doesn't really feel as tight or responsive as other FPS games on the market. It's passable for what it is, though, and there are some creative ways to dispatch enemies with your weapons that can really make you smile.

Enemy design also feels at home with Justin Roiland's sensibilities, from the game's grunt-level mobs to its bosses. They're strange, grotesque, and seem to fit into the world, but — like most of the game's humor — they all feel a bit one-note.

That said, "High on Life" rewards exploration, and even makes light of that fact if you try and run through the game too quickly. It's worth slowing down and checking out the lesser-seen details, as the game will reward you with fun easter eggs and pop culture references (one highlight being a poster seemingly referring to everyone's favorite Cornholio from "Beavis and Butt-Head").

Just give us Morty (not an identical-sounding character)

The humor of "High on Life" lives up to Roiland's reputation, but there's a lot left to be desired once the credits roll. The characters lack depth, their motivations are weakly established, and the dialogue often fails to make anything truly feel authentic or overtly funny. Similarly, the world-building aspect of the game feels a bit shallow.

The gameplay is certainly passable for what it is, but there's nothing really unique about it. The platforming and puzzles are basic and the shooting mechanics aren't particularly tight, so the challenge and replay value are minimal (unless you're a completionist who's ready to backtrack a ton, which, if that's the case, then this is a game for you).

It's entirely commendable that Roiland and team were able to create yet another world that could fit right into the "Rick and Morty" universe, but "High on Life" falls short of its potential. While it's a decent-enough game to pass the time with over the holidays, there are certainly better titles out there for those looking for something more substantial. Ultimately, if there's one thing that "High on Life" did well, it was making us want "Rick and Morty" Season 7 to release even sooner.

Xbox Series S (via Game Pass) was used for this review. "High on Life" is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.