Video games can be fun. Funny video games can be even more fun. Except … when they’re not. And the new, very crude High on Life is pretty solidly in that latter camp.
This looney, single-player shooter is stitched together by the creators of the animated show Rick and Morty. The setup, at least, is a bit creative in its craziness. You play as an average trigger-pulling gamer who loves himself some alien-blasting in video game form. But then, after your mom and dad take off for the weekend, leaving you and your teen sister on your own, actual aliens swoop in to take over the world.
Well, they actually don’t want the whole world. They’re simply seeking their favorite drug of choice: human beings. Mankind, it seems, has become the interstellar underworld’s big narcotic money maker. And humanity’s only hope is … you: a guy who’s been practicing in his parent’s basement for just such a first-person-shooter emergency.
Weapons are an important part of the gaming equation here in High on Life. Soon after being introduced to the bad human-puffing aliens, you come upon a sentient gun (one of an alien breed called gatlians), and the talkative little guy leads you on from there in an effort to destroy the G3 alien Cartel and free other of his kind. In that manner, players only have access to five total weapons, each with its own special strengths and talkative personality.
From there you set off on various “bounty hunter” quests on different planets. And those quests require you to solve environmental puzzles, blast away at foes and eventually eliminate the threat and save humanity.
Gameplay here is colorful and broad, if a bit weak. Some players will enjoy some of the game’s quirky humor.
… much of the above-mentioned wacky humor is very hit-and-miss. A big part of the problem is the fact that the chattering attempts at giggles are literally non-stop. The gatlian weapons and other alien creatures prattle on and on and on in an adlib-sounding attempt to land some occasional jokey gold. You can dial back that dialogue ramble in the game’s menu, but it doesn’t curb the crudity.
And that crude side is the second negative aspect of this game’s attempted humor. The tale is incredibly coarse and spattered liberally with the foulest language (f-words, s-words, uses of “a–hole,” “d–n,” “h—” and “b–ch,” and many, many blasphemes of God’s and Jesus’ names) and lots of truly filthy bits of “wit” (including a running gag centered on alien ejaculation, an alien wetting himself and defecating on living room furniture, etc.).
The “high” part of the game title is always prominent. Aliens consume humans for a buzz and our “sister” smokes cigarettes and snorts cocaine. She offers us a line of coke early on. And along with sexually suggestive dialogue, a goofy TV show displays female rear nudity.
Then there’s also the trigger-pulling messiness. Granted, the shots and neck stabs are aimed at alien creatures filled with variously colored goo, but graphically spewing decapitation and dismemberment are constant.
The colorful action, silly splash and nasty humor of this game may grab gamers’ attentions. But that doesn’t, frankly, make it a laughing matter.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.