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How On top of Life Unexpectedly Stole Gamescom

Update: A previous version of the story listed On top of Life numbers as 33.5 million video views, and 77.6 million impressions. This included views and impressions for content posted ahead of Gamescom. It has now been adjusted so the numbers listed are simply for content posted during Gamescom.

Weekly after Gamescom kicked off with Opening Night Go on August 23, its pretty clear that the unexpected hit of the show on social media marketing was On top of Life from Rick and Morty creator Justin Roilands Squanch Games. Set for release on December 13 for PC and Xbox, its a first-person shooter wrapped in exactly the same sort of darkly-comedic weirdness observed in Roilands previous games like Trover Saves the Universe and Accounting. Squanch Games creative director Mikey Spano describes it as Bladerunner if Jim Henson achieved it, and compares the bounty hunting gameplay to Metroid Prime. Tonally, its an acquired taste, and honestly it wasnt on our Gamescom bingo card of games we thought wed be discussing at this time.

On IGN channels alone, content about On top of Life has seen over 24 million video views, and an astounding 56 million impressions

Weekly after Gamescom, on IGN channels alone, content about On top of Life has seen over 24 million video views, and an astounding 56 million impressions (impressions certainly are a measure of just how many folks have seen posts concerning the game within their social feeds.) In comparison, Dune Awakening another hottest title we covered saw just 8.6 million impressions.

On top of Life wasnt a special or perhaps a world premiere at Gamescom. When Microsoft announced it at its Xbox and Bethesda Showcase back June, it performed moderately well. In both months since, the trailer has gradually accumulated 348 thousand views on our YouTube channel. Its been on our radar, for certain, but its hardly been leading the charge with regards to potential hits this season. In the event that you had asked anyone whats likely to be big in Q4? no-one could have said On top of Life.

When new gameplay footage, having a very verbose boss fight, dropped during Gamescoms Opening Night Live show the other day, it did OK out from the gate, and following a week it has were able to claw its way past 100 thousand views on IGNs YouTube channel. It really wasnt probably the most successful showing of the evening. That honor fell to Pinnochio-themed Soulslike Lies of P which quickly cracked a million views on a single channel.

On August 24, IGN executive news editor Joe Skrebels surely got to play On top of Life at Gamescom and posted 25 minutes of footage (included above) for a hands-on preview that showed the gameplay before the boss fight showcased in the trailer. This further demonstrated how dense with Roiland-isms the games dialog will be. The footage that was completely raw without voiceover, just game audio was watched 1.3 million times on IGNs YouTube channel.

Out of this we clipped out segments that people posted on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram, you start with the introduction of Knifey the loudmouthed knife/tether creature that appears like Australian Rick as he screams he needs more stabbing! That clip has been watched 7.6 million times on TikTok, and was met with enthusiasm because of its obvious Rick and Mortyness. There is some understandable grumbling that it wasnt arriving at PlayStation, however the initial response was generally positive.

Then things took a poor turn. Roilands approach could be divisive at the very best of that time period and, much like the discourse around Rick and Morty, people soon complained that the humor was predictable and crass. Some griped that Roilands approach is beginning to get old. Chief on the list of criticism was that talking weapons are annoying, and comparisons were attracted to talking guns in the Borderlands series. Its worth pointing out that talking companions generally have already been the ire of some players since Navi frequently updated Link in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Paimon an identical character appears perhaps all too often for a few in Genshin Impact.

On August 26, we clipped out another On top of Life scene from the gameplay footage showing how meta the humor gets as an answer to a comment from a keen fan. The scene, which ultimately shows a cycloptic-child-alien-thing daring one to shoot it while your gun, Kenny, berates you, saw another 4.7 million views on TikTok, and 6 million on Twitter. Normally, killing children in games isnt allowed, but hes dead. We killed this kid, whines the goop-shooting Kenny. There goes our E for everyone rating! That single tweet saw 28 million impressions on the next three days. The discussion wasnt concerning the joke, everything just came right down to gaming Twitter finding Roilands work incredibly polarizing. 9Volt summarized the sentiment perfectly, saying we’ve managed to create a game a lot more annoying than Borderlands, a tweet that quickly saw 116 thousand likes. Kotakus Patricia Hernandez called it the epitome of cringe. The more folks declared it unfunny though, the more Roilands fans arrived to guard it. As this is happening, Google Trends, which measures just how many people are looking for confirmed keyword or topic, showed search fascination with On top of LIfe was spiking to its highest levels ever.

It appears like On top of Life isn’t afraid to cross the type of gaming decency. #gamescom2022 pic.twitter.com/bgC6UinyVz

IGN (@IGN) August 26, 2022

The next day on August 27, Spano and executive producer Matty Studivan spoke with Max Scoville on our Gamescom live show to describe that the overall game wouldnt actually be as chatty as this early look could have us believe. It might feel just like its just blasting at you on a regular basis, Studivan explained. In this level were attempting to teach you lots of stuff so we must tell you a whole lot, but because the levels start its been vital that you Justin and Mikey to get the moments of quiet, where youre exploring andwhere it is possible to take in precisely how ridiculous the overall game is.

Interestingly, while we saw more folks seeking out info on On top of Life, watching video, and discussing it across all the places we post, its unclear if some of this changed anyones mind about attempting to play it as it pertains out later this season. While Gamescom had an enormous impact on what folks were increasing their Wishlists on IGN Playlist, On top of Life didnt ensure it is in to the top five for the week. Probably the most wishlisted game was (predictably) Lies of P, accompanied by Dead Island 2, Atlas Fallen, Dune Awakening, and Where Winds Meet.

The top five wishlisted games on Playlist the week after Gamescom did not include High on Life

The very best five wishlisted games on Playlist the week after Gamescom didn’t include On top of Life

Ultimately, the reason why On top of Life could steal Gamescom had hardly any related to it being truly a gaming. Its a testament to the ubiquity of comedy as well as perhaps a a reaction to Rick and Mortys particular make of humor. Anyone might have an impression on whether something is funny, however the discourse around a casino game like Lies of P requires a knowledge of whether it could play like Bloodborne. The task for On top of Life, exactly like for Monkey Island, Goat Simulator, The Stanley Parable, Psychonauts, among others before it, would be to discover a way to fulfill gamers’ needs while being accessible enough for all those just searching for a good laugh.

John Davison is VP, Publisher at IGN. Follow him on Twitter.

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