It was never my dream to have an alcoholic mad scientist yell derisively at me while I’m stoned. Yet here I am, in my friend’s office with a pound of virtual reality gear strapped to my head, at the same time fumbling with a common household Plumbus while Rick Sanchez excoriates me in a fake garage.
Only a serving of McDonald’s delicious Szechuan Sauce could top this.
The new season of Adult Swim’s cult favorite “Rick and Morty” may not be here yet, but 4/20 marks more than a weed holiday this year. Out today is “Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality”, the VR experience I received an advance copy of to test. Not included: the joint of Grape God Bud from Rocky Mountain High I roasted before jumping in. I would highly recommend the pairing.
After several minutes of tweaking settings, my also stoned friend “Marcus” (who wished to remain anonymous) is ready to teleport me into the Smith family garage.
I find myself standing in front of the eponymous Rick and Morty, who inform me I’m a clone of the latter, created to carry out the tasks doled out by the former. Up first: laundry.
Marcus tells me this is an essential gameplay function of “Job Simulator: the 2050 Archives“, also created by Owlchemy Labs, and I should expect some tasks he refers to as “grindy.” As a VR novice, I fumble with detergent as it feels like I have depth-perception issues. Several minutes later I’ve completed the task, only to be shot in the face by Rick.
I answer a phone call that lets me know I’m in purgatory, a terrifying thought given how high I am and how real everything feels. The VR haptics are well-used, jolting my sense of touch as the indica-dominant hybrid wants my body to be chill but my mind to be crystal clear. Pressing a button, I’m back in the garage, looking to a white board for my next task.
The quests I spend the next 10 minutes on remind me of a favorite game from childhood, “Myst” — solving puzzles using context clues from Sanchez while laughing at the self-aware narration he provides:
“This shit is about to get kicked up, like a hundred notches,” he warns.
As an unabashed fan of VR, “Rick and Morty” series creator Justin Roiland‘s voice work is as strong as the writing, both of which elevate the game beyond the languid “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” and give fans actual comedic content. The sound of a Plumbus hitting the floor is enough to make you squirm, a credit to their sound-effects team. It’s fan service done right.
Things get interesting as I’m tasked with charging a battery, a statement I’d never thought I’d say. A series of three levers light up at random, challenging me to move them to different positions. It starts slow, a la the Simon computer game from the ’80s, but seconds later I find myself turning invisible buttons at a fevered pace. These physical tasks, along with tossing a Meeseeks ball at the perfect distance, make me wish I wasn’t quite as stoned as I currently am, but add a tremendous depth to the experience.
As a VR novice, there are times when the various buttons trip me up, as I’m having short-term memory troubles remembering which generates a portal. I find myself talking to the characters to no effect, much to the amusement of friends watching. I also can’t figure out how to grab a gun without it shooting a rapid-fire laser, which only leads me to grab a second and fire indiscriminately. This serves no purpose in the game but has me cackling maniacally.
Regardless, I find the experience addicting, finally giving into fatigue as Mr. Poopy Butthole comes through on my watch with a mission. A glass of water and another joint later, I’m ready to hop back in, only to find Marcus strapped in and jumping through a portal.
In bird culture, this is considered a dick move.
What’s a Plumbus? Here’s a handy explainer: