There is an opinion that you need a very high IQ to understand the humor in Rick and Morty. The people who have it must suffer because of how few games suit them! Studio Squanch Games saves the situation – this team was founded more than six years ago by Justin Roiland (Justin Roiland), the creator of the same animated series. All the games he released boast the same absurd humor – Accounting, Trover Saves the Universe, and the recently released High on Life. With each release, Roiland’s team is becoming more experienced, but there is still room for growth.
There are not many jokes
If Trover saved the Universe, then this time you need to save the Earth. She was attacked by the G3 alien cartel who wanted to capture people and turn them into a hallucinogenic drug. To prevent this, you need to destroy several leaders. A difficult task falls on the shoulders of an ordinary teenager who received an alien pistol at the beginning of the game. There are no other candidates – the only bounty hunter who could do better retired and gave the protagonist his equipment.
Although the plot here is a little less absurd than in the studio’s last game, the degree of humor rises every minute, and jokes are poured from a cornucopia. Then you find out which of the two aliens guarding the gate is more attractive, and depending on your choice, go to the left or right door – this, of course, does not affect anything. Then you help the adorable octopus solve pipe puzzles so that he can get to the next location. “Did you go to puzzle school?” he asks at the last riddle; in any other game, the joke would seem dumb, but here it fits perfectly.
Of course, there are really unsuccessful jokes, but they are surprisingly few. Even banalities become funnier thanks to the excellent presentation. Everything fits together perfectly here: numerous actors clearly get a buzz from dubbing, the characters are outwardly different from each other and cause laughter with their very appearance, and colorful and diverse locations make the adventure not boring. Breaking the fourth wall, references to video games and humor from the waist down is not complete, and the appearance of several full-length films of the last century was the icing on the cake. Where else would you watch a tape called “Vampire Hookers“?
The main stars are guns that do not stop for a minute. The first pistol is especially good – it was voiced by Roiland himself, and one can only envy his mastery of improvisation (and many of the lines were clearly not prepared in advance). Even when he repeats the same thing, he does it like it should be. Guns comment on your actions, remind you of gameplay features, yell instead of the main character when he falls into the abyss, and sometimes complain that it’s boring to stick around in a holster if you haven’t used them for a long time. In the settings, you can make the characters less talkative, but it’s hard for me to understand why, in this case, play such a game at all.
But there is a problem – there is no translation in any form. I rarely pay attention to this in reviews, but this case is special: there is too much dialogue, the actors chatter, and many phrases are heard during gunfights, so it is difficult to catch every joke. If you do not know English well, then you will get noticeably less pleasure from passing than you could – the humor here is mostly conversational, not visual.
The gameplay here is not ideal, but the novelty does not seem like a low-budget craft either. The authors were clearly inspired by Metroid: the main character constantly receives not only new guns, but also abilities like a dash, a jetpack, the ability to cling to ledges with a whip, and so on. At early levels, some chests that store collectibles and currency for purchasing upgrades cannot be opened immediately – it is expected that you will return later with the necessary equipment. I would not say that the game encourages you to spend time on this, but those who like to complete everything 100% will have something to do.
In battles, as well as in dialogues, guns also shine. Each of them has not only the usual mode of fire, but also an alternative one. The Starter Pistol, for example, fires slime blobs that knock up enemies if they explode near them, turning them into flying targets for a couple of seconds. And Sweezy’s cannon, which looks like a punk-haired fish (or a needle gun from Halo), not only allows you to hurt aliens through cover, you can shoot enemies with needles, and then undermine them with a punch or an enhanced shot.
My favorite was Gus, a shotgun, beautifully voiced by comedian J.B. Smoove and shaped like a chubby frog. It’s not very good as a shotgun, but its alternate mode is great: you release a buzz saw that bounces from one opponent to another, and after a couple of such bounces, it flies in your direction. If you press the strike button in time, you will beat off the saw and it will fly to the opponents again. You can repeat the process until everyone is dead or until you miss a hit. By the way, grenades thrown by aliens can be discarded in the same way.
It’s a pity the game doesn’t really try to put you in a situation where you need to use the entire arsenal. I think you can easily go through almost everything with a gun, switching to something else just to solve puzzles. The arenas are quite primitive, the types of enemies are not enough, and the artificial intelligence is stupid – sometimes opponents hide behind covers, but very soon they either stick their heads out or crawl out of safe places and run away to the side. There were moments when I died even at the average difficulty level, but this was not connected with the intelligence of the enemies – rather, because of their stupidity, I became too arrogant and almost ran into the crowd.
But the authors of High on Life came up with an original damage system. Here, the enemies are covered in yellow goo, and the more you hit them, the thinner the layer becomes. When throwing away grenades, using alternate fire modes and exploding barrels, you notice very quickly “skinny” aliens, which are enough for two or three hits. Subsequently, the game will even explain what kind of slime it is. They can come up with an alternative to the health bar whenever they want!
Praise and battles with bosses, which are much more fun skirmishes with ordinary aliens. You need to hide behind shelters, and constantly move, and use a whip – either shells fly, or areas appear on the floor on which it is undesirable to stand for a long time. In the end, you still have to shoot at a large enemy with a lot of health, but it’s still more fun than the tiring shootouts in the arenas by the second half of the game.
High on Life has already won the love of the public, and not only among Game Pass subscribers (in the first days after the release, the novelty entered the top five most popular games on Xbox), but also on Steam. Apparently, gamers missed humorous shooters, devoid of seriousness and drama. It is noticeable with what pleasure the developers created High on Life and how they fooled around in the process. During the passage, you plunge deeper into this absurd world, expecting new surprises and never ceasing to smile. The gameplay is not perfect, but Roiland’s team is gaining experience very quickly – I hope, over time, they will be able to release something truly amazing.
Pros: tons of good jokes; bright locations and charming characters; guns that tell stories and comment on the player’s actions do not get bored; alternative fire modes; great bosses.
Cons: due to stupid artificial intelligence and boring arena design, battles with ordinary enemies bring little pleasure; humor is not for everyone – if you don’t like Rick and Morty, there is little chance of falling in love with this game.