‘High On Life’ is the new game from ‘Rick and Morty’ creator about talking guns

By Mason Berlinka

Published Dec 13, 2022 at 04:26 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

I’m no stranger to games, but the release of High On Life—the new game from Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland—totally snuck up on me. The game is helmed by the man responsible for the titular character’s famous voices, and developed by his own studio, Squanch Games.

High On Life embarks players on a planet-hopping journey, where they pick up bounty contracts while taking down strange and fantastical foes who are—you guessed it—alien in nature. Though the premise might sound simple, Roiland’s added flavour of the game is that the weapons you use (four of them, to be exact) are sentient and feature fully-fledged personalities and voice lines.

Imagine an interstellar Call of Juarez, where you’re taking contracts to stop an intergalactic gang of aliens who want to get high on humans, and the guns you use have talking faces on the back and react with unhinged lines throughout the game.

Aside from the iconic voice of Justin Roiland himself, the game also features the talents of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s JB Smoove and legendary SpongeBob voice actor, Tom Kenny. With an all-star voice-acting cast like this and many more, the game is bound to be a treat for your ears.

How gaming differs from TV

In an interview with Sky News, Roiland delved into the obstacles that come with creating a narrative for video games, and how different it can be from working in the television industry. The nature of the former presents a much bigger challenge, “It’s like writing a TV show that people can reach in and knock things around,” he told the publication.

Essentially, gaming presents a more non-linear form of entertainment. Because of this, there’s room for “lots of fun narrative surprises,” Roiland added. “An encounter with a non-player character (NPC) is entirely different depending on what gun you’ve got out.”

Squanch Games lead designer Erich Meyr elaborated on the systems involved in making the game, explaining, “You have up to four guns and every single one of them has a different line. We had to control how wide we could go with it, and that we could even do it.”

Conceptually, it’s a very fun idea. The talking gun is an often under-utilised comedy vehicle in most video games—with the most notable uses of it in the past being the controversial 2009 action game Shadows of the Damned, and 2019’s Borderlands 3.

AI helped lift the workload of ‘High On Life’

During the production process of High On Life, developers leveraged the controversial artificial intelligence art model Midjourney. The tool helped the team paint an otherworldly background for the game, being used primarily for finishing touches.

It also helped developers come up with “weird, funny ideas” and Roiland shared his hopes of seeing these tools make content creation more accessible in the future. AI was even used to prototype character voices, with one actually having a very small role in the finished game.

While the potential for AI is staggering, the debate surrounding its threat to artists and those whose livelihoods depend on being employed for their skills must be addressed.

High On Life is looking to be a buggy yet decent pre-holiday filler, or potentially a great Christmas purchase for Rick and Morty enthusiasts—given the fact that it practically oozes with Roiland’s signature wit and style. The game is available now on Xbox Game Pass, or for individual purchase on Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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