Published on March 30th, 2024 | by Chris O'Connor

The Art Of High On Life Book Review

The Art Of High On Life Book Review Chris O'Connor

Summary: With Rick and Morty in the family tree... you know things are going to get weird.


The team behind Rick and Morty have dabbled with games before… not least of which was Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality. So we’ve certainly been exposed to the worlds they can create… but The Art Of High On Life takes us into perhaps their weirdest creations yet.

The cover image is one I suspect many people are familiar with now (at least many gamers)… I mean a weapon with a face… not a painted on but an apparently living face… that kind of stands out. The book takes us behind how that came to be and explores the creative process behind the wider world of High On Life and where the influences came from.

Whilst I don’t quite see the Bladerunner influence… but the Jim Henson element is there… perhaps more Meet The Feebles than Muppets, so perhaps Jim Henson once removed? With a game like this, that mix of very adult content and playful toy like characters creates a very odd world, not in a bad way… more in a “how the hell did they think this stuff up” kind of way.

That’s kind of the most interesting thing about this book… yes it’s a design/concepts book, there’s plenty of art and behind the scenes style prototype images and so on… but it’s reading of the design processes that is quite fascinating. Whilst you might look at some of the images and think things were put together via spinning a wheel with odd concepts on it and mashing them all together… there was in fact quite a bit of consideration for how things would work, such as considering how different creatures would traverse terrain ie a human with two arms and legs, versus an octopus like creature. Creating a world of your own design means you can go as weird and wonderful as you like or you can keep things grounded. In this case it seems a melding of the two was the approach.

There are some lovely art pieces that are essentially set dressing in the game but show just how much attention to detail is put in with the world building present here. Of particular pseudo nostalgia for me are the Trash Bag Babbies which took me right back to my youth collecting Garbage Pail Kids.

For those who have yet to play the game (myself included there), the book does take you through an overview of the story. The presentation of the art is more or less sequential and as such the flow of the writing is to sort of tell you what point the story is up to as you are shown elements from the given stage of the game. It’s not quite spoiler territory… but certain things are hinted at… so depending on just how extreme you are about avoiding any sort of spoilers… you may need to keep that in mind and be cautious… then again if you are even considering looking at a book that is clearly going to have images from many stages of the game… you probably aren’t too concerned.

Final Thoughts?

Like with many art books, there are some truly fascinating images here… the big difference is these are more like a Salvador Dali crossed with H.R. Giger and the Muppets than the art you see in the average game art book… but perhaps that’s just your thing.

If you have an interest in the game or the sort of world building the people behind Rick and Morty are capable of… then grab a copy.

About the Author'

Father of four, husband of one and all round oddity. Gaming at home since about 1982 with a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Moving on to the more traditional PC genre in the years that followed with the classic Jump Joe and Alley Cat. CGA, EGA, VGA and beyond PC's have been central to my gaming but I've also enjoyed consoles and hand helds along the way (who remembers the Atari Lynx?). Would have been actor/film maker, jack of many trades master of none.

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