High On Life Review – A Goopy Sci-Fi Masterpiece (PC)

They said they were making an authentic shooter and they did it. High On Life brings all the fast-paced satisfying action of a modern FPS and marries it seamlessly to Justin Roiland's hilarious comedic style. If you're a fan of Roiland's comedy, then there isn't a single moment in High On Life that will have you bored.

High On Life Review - A Goopy Sci-Fi Masterpiece (PC)

This is dangerous for me because I happen to be a big fan of Justin Roiland. I really liked the short film he made way back The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti which went on to inspire that show he made with Dan Harmon (the name escapes me). I am exactly the person who this game was made for. So I’m in a dire conundrum, how do I maintain my journalistic objectivity when I’m obviously so biased? I’ll tell you how, I’m going to push my bias to the side and forget about it. I will take on the role of complete neutrality. Roiland is just another name and this is just another game. You can trust my opinion. Anyway, High On Life is the most fun thing I’ve played all year.

High On Life is Squanch Games’ first step out of the VR world and into traditional gaming. They ensure us that they came at this with the intention of making a serious shooter instead of just a comedy gimmick game and I gotta say, they pretty much nailed it. At no point did I find myself bored with the gameplay. Even the first few hours where all you have is a pistol; from the sound effects to the enemy AI, everything is tuned to be as satisfying as possible. Where the game particularly stole my attention, though, was the story.

High On Life is available on Steam, Xbox, and Epic Games Store for $59.99.

HIGH ON LIFE Official Game Trailer

Story – Everything You Would Expect From a Dweeb Who Loves Games

As the protagonist, you are a basic human who likes shooter games … can’t get more of a directly relatable avatar than that. Anyway, while being annoyed by your sister, a group of alien drug dealers called the G3 invade Earth to enslave all the humans and turn them into drugs. So you pick up a gun/alien/friend/Justin Roiland and do what you do best, shoot at things until their heads pop off.

One thing the game truly impresses me with is how they’re able to make the G3 still seem menacing through the jovial tone and all the goofy dialogue. Though it’s masked in all the goopy comedy one can expect from Roiland, at the heart of High On Life rests a real gamer story.

The Progression

You are a bounty hunter exploring alien planets to take out G3 agents and getting paid for it. Each bounty provides a new environment, with new upgrades, new weapons, and narrative, and finishes with a satisfying boss battle. I remember an old trailer for the canceled sequel to Prey 2006 where you play as a bounty hunter in space and it looked the coolest damn thing ever. I swear Roiland saw that same trailer and was like “I’m gonna make that.” and I’m so glad that he did.

Each G3 agent is memorable and you have good reason to want to hunt them down and kill them. As you progress through their levels, you’re fed more lore and shown how much the G3 are terrorizing the galaxy. It threads a perfect line between the serious and the funny. Even though serious stuff is happening, it’s never not hilarious.

High On Life Review - The G3 agent, Krubis

High On Life Review – The G3 agent, Krubis

The Tone and Dialogue

When it comes to the writing in games, lately I’ve been mostly trying to tune it out. Though the lore in Elden Ring is deeply fascinating, not a single word actually spoken to me from anyone in that game finds even an inkling of purchase in my brain. The dialogue in any of the proper story scenes in God Of War Ragnarok is great, everything said outside of a cutscene though is wholly detrimental to the characters. Hearing Atreus say “you’re on fire, but I guess you already knew that” a thousand times during battle makes me want to light my actual self on fire.

High On Life benefits immensely from the fact that the main writer is also one of the main characters. If Roiland was in the sound booth and given a line to say that he thought sucked, he wouldn’t say it.

Casual TV Watching

High On Life is one of the only games I’ve played with heavy dialogue that stays consistent, interesting, and funny at every stage of the game. Whether you’re in battle or a cutscene, or just standing around watching the in-game television ads. I can’t remember the last game where I sat and watched the in-game TV so much. It reminds me of spending time in GTA Vice City in a car listening to the radio station.

I tried to watch the entirety of Tammy and the T Rex in High On Life. At first, I was disappointed when it cut out after the scene where Paul Walker gets mauled by a lion but when I came back later in the game, it remembered where I was up to and played from there. They knew I was going to be demented enough to try to watch a whole B-grade movie, which I can easily watch on YouTube, in their game. They know how to cater to their schizoid demographic.

Gameplay – They Wanted a Serious Shooter and They Got It

To be clear, High On Life is no Doom Eternal but I don’t know why you would expect it to be. In terms of offering satisfying shooting mechanics, High On Life does everything right. Playing on Hunter difficulty, the enemies are aggressive enough to induce a nice flow state. Your arsenal and traversal options are intuitive and powerful enough to make you feel like a badass. It doesn’t innovate a whole lot but instead concentrates on perfecting a solid core. That’s not to say that there isn’t some unique design though. The guns in particular had an impressive amount of thought put into them.

The Gatlians

All good shooter games have a bit of personality in their guns. As you play, you grow attached to them on a deep level as they save you from countless death-defying situations. They become a part of the player as if the guns themselves are added limbs. It feels like discovery the more accustomed to them you get. You learn what you’re capable of and what the game expects from you. It’s nothing less than a stroke of genius to make the guns lovable side characters with their own personalities and narrative relevance.

The Gatlians are a gun-like race of aliens that have been genocided by the G3 who are using the last remaining Gatlians as weapons. It’s up to you to liberate them so they can live more wholesome lives, as your weapons. As you grow more connected to them as game mechanics, you grow closer to them as characters. They each have unique attacks that suit different battle environments so you’re never sticking to only one of them. They act as good plot motivation: not only are you unlocking a new weapon, you’re saving a new friend. The repeated lines they say aren’t super annoying like every other game. And if they are annoying you, there’s an option to control how much they speak in the settings.

Knifey brings authentic Australian representation

Knifey brings authentic Australian representation

Traversal

What makes the battles in High On Life truly entertaining are the ways in which you move around. When you first start, you just have your standard run and crouch but it’s not long before you start unlocking the good stuff. As soon as you’re able to, buy the Slide Dash upgrade. From the description, I thought it was just going to be a new melee attack but once I had it, it instantly became the most used thing in the game. You get a knife that extends out and can be used to pull you along rails providing Bioshock Infinite-esque battle scenes. And on top of it all, you get a goddamn jetpack.

Everything in this game was added for the sole purpose of heightening the fun factor. All of these traversal mechanics blend together seamlessly to make all movement exciting and satisfying. Even running around looking for loot becomes fun.

High On Life Review - Powerslidin

High On Life Review – Powerslidin

Exploration

There’s a bunch of collectibles to hunt down and extract from the numerous fleshy living treasure chests scattered around every world. There are weapon upgrades, cards that tell you about random in-universe media, and money used to buy more upgrades. As you unlock more ways to traverse, more treasure chests become available to find. It’s another instance of perfecting rather an innovating. There’s a little radar that tells you where to find chests but it only activates when you get close enough to one. So you still have the satisfaction of finding collectibles without the tediousness of combing over every inch of the map. And who doesn’t enjoy searching around for loot? If anything, it gives you more reason to explore the gorgeous worlds they’ve created.

High On Life Review - Finding Treasures

High On Life Review – Finding Treasures

Graphics & Sound – It Doesn’t Get More Sci-Fi Than This

High On Life carries on the aesthetic of Rick and Morty. Everything is slimy and gross and weird and alien, but also very colorful and can be quite beautiful when it wants to be. They make good use of the Unreal Engine, with high-quality textures and effects. It feels like playing a high-budget 3D animated movie.

Character Models & Environments

The least impressive part of the game visual is the very beginning. You’re in your room talking to your sister; the house looks generic and her 3D model looks rather budget. It’s only when things start getting weird do the graphics spike up. It’s kind of funny that the least interesting stuff to look at is anything related to humans. Every alien model is fantastic while keeping to Roiland’s particular flavor of comedic sci-fi.

Stepping out of your house into Blim City feels like you’re stepping into another game. It’s vibrant and exciting. This must have been intentional. The contrast between basic human life and crazy alien life is stark and invigorating. Every new world you travel to is just as appealing as the last, and they progress into unexpected areas. Traverse a vast Mad Max-style desert then take a tram into an underground city. Explore a colorful alien forest that leads to an enemy laboratory. At no point is there a dip in quality. Every environment is a pleasure to be in.

The Voice Talent

The voice cast they got is filled to the brim with the best in the business. They got names everyone knows like Zach Hadel, Joel Haver, and Michael Cusack, as well as some lesser known names like Jennifer Hale and Nolan North. It’s great that you can hear just how much fun they were having in the vocal booth. For a lot of the in-universe ads, you can tell they were making stuff up on the spot. Nothing is funnier than listening to comedic friends screw around and make each other laugh. When the tone wants to be silly, it works perfectly, then when it wants to get deeper, it works just as well. But for the most part, it’s silly and fun.

The Soundtrack

Outside of battle, the music is ambient and slow and ethereal but once an enemy shows up, it bursts into some of the most fast-paced and intricate sounding beats I’ve heard since the SNES era. It actually feels like they were trying to modernize the old-school prog-like music found in games from the early 90s. I love it. A few times, I would let the last enemy of any encounter live for a bit longer just to hear what the music was doing. It works to amp you up and get you ready for shootin dudes. The music also fits nicely with the alien themes. They use a range of synths to emulate melodies and rhythms without using traditional human-like instruments. I swear I didn’t hear a single twang of a guitar string in the whole game, but I got attached to the melodies all the same.

High On Life was reviewed on PC with a key provided by FIFTYcc.

Summary
In regards to the shooting mechanics, there's a solid core with excellent flow. You unlock traversal options that make moving around fast-paced and hectic while shooting down enemies. There are enough guns to unlock that keep the fighting interesting while maintaining their personality. Literally, the guns are characters in the story. Where High On Life shines is the writing. Every character and scene is hilarious while also telling a compelling story. Fans of Justin Roiland's comedy will love High On Life.
Good
  • Satisfying FPS Mechanics
  • Great Visuals
  • Hilarious
Bad
  • Doesn't innovate much
9
Amazing

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