Not going to lie, but I am loving the shock to the heart the FPS genre has been having the past year. Not only did we learn it can mix high-speed shooting with puzzle solving in Neon White, but we also saw it can be in a game that doesn’t take itself so seriously. That is with the latest and biggest release from Squanch Games; the game studio co-founded by Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, High on Life. That alone will decide if you are going to like this game at all. Because if you aren’t a fan of Justin Roiland’s humor, and I mean a pre-Rick and Morty fame fan, you will more than likely hate this game with a passion for wasting your time and making you deaf by self-choice.
To say High on Life is solely dependent on its humor and writing over gameplay, then you would be right. But I am someone with a sick sense of humor, and its machine gun approach to comedy is hit-and-miss for some people. But for me, this is one of the funniest games I’ve played in a long time, mainly because what other game can you take time out of saving the world. Going home to sit on your virtual couch and watch the underground 90s classic Tammy and the T-Rex, I can’t think of any other game that lets you do that, so we have something to talk about.
The story in High on Life is simple to understand; you are a human who comes into contact with a talking alien gun, voiced by Justin himself, just as the Earth is being taken over by an alien drug cartel to turn humans into their latest drug. It’s up to you and at least 4 other alien guns to kill all the higher-ups of the cartel and save the human race. The plot is pretty stupid, but that’s on brand with the creator’s sense of humor.
The comedy is the biggest aspect of the game, and I will admit there were some moments that I had to pause the game from laughing too hard, mainly due to how unexpected they turned out to be. Right from the start, the game’s meta humor hits you with a short parody of Doom visuals and all, and it’s just a sample of what to expect. This is to expect because this game will throw everything at the wall and sees what sticks, and sometimes it doesn’t stick, but when it does, it’s a highlight of the 10-hour campaign.
The gameplay is different from Squanch Games’ past outings, mainly because you are allowed to move and not be restricted to a set location, like in their past VR titles: Trover Saves the Universe and Accounting. The game takes an FPS approach with mixed results, mainly in the gameplay feeling department. An important aspect of an FPS, something Call of Duty has perfected to a tee, is to make the guns feel good while using them, and the guns here don’t feel that good at all. You got your standard pistol, shotgun, launchers, and SMG here, each with a unique voice and personality, adding on to the game’s unique charm. But they just lack the firing power when using them to take down some alien scum, sure, it is pure chaotic fun, but it just meets the minimum amount required and stays there.
That doesn’t mean the other forms of gameplay are dull on the same level as shooting; in fact, some aspects shine in comparison. The game design takes a small Metroid route; I won’t say it’s a full-on Metroid-inspired game, just has small moments that contain the exploration found in Metroid titles. The number of collectibles on display is insane, to say the least; thankfully, the game does everything in its power to help you collect them all with a counter and location beeps on your mini-map HUD.
If you are looking for a long, complex shooter, this is the farthest thing you can find on the market today. Actually, that works in its favor since the game is up on Xbox Game Pass, a move that will help this game in the long run. Given its short length and lack of replay value after your first playthrough, there are many moments that the game cracks jokes at maybe adding some DLC. But I wouldn’t be mad if they did because I enjoyed my time in this very surreal world, where at times, I was laughing like a madman and jumping all over the place, shooting up alien scum like I was John Wick.
So, in the end, High on Life might be the last great game to release in 2022, and I’m hoping this opens up the waters for Squanch Games to take on other genres outside their comfort zone. I mean, I’m just spitballing here, a fantasy RPG that makes fun of the sudden spike in fantasy pop culture, sure it might be lazy, but hey, it could be really funny, and that is why I play their games to have a good laugh, that after 5 minutes of laughter I say to the game “Stop I can’t breathe anymore.”
Score: 8 out of 10
Reviewed on Xbox Series X