High On Life Needs To Be Okay With Me Not Finding It Funny

High on Life isn't very funny. That might be a thing we agree to disagree on, but I doubt it. I love Rick & Morty and like Solar Opposites enough, so it's not a personal issue with the style of humour or Roiland's delivery – although I would have liked a voice other than Morty's for the main gun. Humour is not only a question of style. There's also delivery, context, timing, and so much more to consider. And hey, Justin Roiland knows this stuff better than I do, he's a funny guy with a consistently successful career. But I'm not sure he knows video games all that well, so High on Life tries to be a TV show. Nothing about it works.

High on Life is not Squanch Games' first video game, though it is by far the largest and most high profile. After a few home skits, tight-ten stand-up routines, and internet shorts, High on Life is Squanch Games being given a network spot. It can expect to be cancelled after the first season. As I outlined in my review, the major problem is the jokes just aren't that funny and would have been punched up ahead of being spoken by Rick Sanchez, but a large part of the overall issues with High on Life comes from a lack of fundamental understanding towards video game audiences.

Comedy is subjective, so I don't want to belabour the point that the jokes aren't funny to me specifically – although just one more note that as a Rick & Morty fan with an interest in video games, surely it was made for me specifically. In any case, the actual words are less important to this point than the delivery. High on Life is a very simple game. You are told to go to a planet to kill a boss, do that, then are told to go to a different planet to kill a different boss. In between, you come back to your house to mediate arguments between your sister and Gene, a former bounty hunter who has given you his suit in exchange for letting him crash on the couch.

I don't care about this part of the game. I don't think either character is very interesting, the arguments are surface-level character development with simple jokes, and while the gameplay isn't great, it at least involves playing the game. When I am making my way through levels, at least I'm doing something. But in between, I am locked in to doing nothing. I can live with 'go and buy this jet pack' or 'here's a side quest while the portal loads' or some other stalling tactic. In fact, I'd much prefer there be a side quest of some description to add some texture to the game. But the conversations are not that.

Instead, they are strange arguments where only one out of every four lines is even a joke, and then one out of every eight lands. They're painfully generic riffs on the setting, like 'is it spacist to not like a certain alien' and 'should your sister have an alien boyfriend'. The whole arc would be an underbaked b-plot if it happened to Summer Smith, and you're held hostage by it. You're left there, rooted to the spot, unable to move, while this unfunny skit evolves in front of you.

Have you ever been to a bad comedy show but decided to stay, because getting up and leaving would mean the spotlight dropping on you or the bad comic awkwardly trying to heckle you? High on Life forces this situation and superglues you to your seat. It has no faith in its actual gameplay and relies entirely on forcing you to find it funny. It's right to push away its derivative shooting, but it needs to replace it with something better than "jokes that wouldn't make a Rick & Morty script".

Humour is one of the most subjective art forms, and so High on Life needs to understand that not everyone will find it funny and accommodate that. It's unfortunate that very few will find it funny, almost as few who find the gameplay in any way interesting, but that's no excuse for tying us to our seats and demanding our applause for its amdram improv.

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