High On Life | Review – The craziest adventure of 2022

The latest effort from Squanch Games, led by Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, is a wacky, boisterous, and… sticky sci-fi first-person shooter, both because the amount of fluids you come into contact with is high, and because not everything is held together in the best way and the humor that should act as a glue sometimes overwhelms everything to hide the flaws of the game. But ultimately High On Life doesn't give a damn what the player thinks, nor does it care about making old and outdated design choices; he reiterates it several times during the adventure and makes fun of it. Brilliant, crazy or just annoying?

The answer is enclosed in degree of tolerance you can reach for Roiland's writing and voice who among other things doubles one of the lively talking weapons, protagonist together with our character, who is instead anonymous and silent. In fact, since the first times that High On Life has shown itself, one of the characteristics that has made a considerable number of fans gravitate around the project is the involvement of Roiland himself and the caustic style of comedy that distinguishes him.


For many a real selling point, while for others a nightmare. If the excessive and prolonged babbling, the curses used as a reinforcement of a joke, and the constant references to various alien and non-alien anatomical parts, disturb you, there is very little you can do to enjoy High On Life and it won't even be the gameplay that convinces you to wear the bounty hunter suit to exterminate the criminal alien cartel who wants to make humans the most popular drug to get high.

What works in a 20-30 minute animated series does not automatically work in a video game with a duration of 10 or more hours. Although there are moments capable of eliciting a healthy and glorious laugh, sometimes Roiland's humor can be a bit repetitive and excessive, and depending on your sensitivity, the way it deals with certain topics related to suicide or depression may make you uncomfortable.

We reviewed the game with the following PC:

CPU: Intel Core i7-12700
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2X8GB) DDR4 3200MHz
GPU: GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Let your gun do the talking

The premises of High On Life are absurd as well as the situations that we will find ourselves having to resolve. High On Life is a game that has fully embraced its silliness and is not ashamed of it, indeed it screams it louder, makes it more vivid through the characterization of its characters. The real stars of the show are the weapons we get as we thin out the ranks of the criminal organization that keeps humans in check.

Each weapon has a distinctive look and its own personality thanks to the voices of comic actors such as JB Smoove, Betsy Sodaro and Tim Robinson. On the gameplay front, in addition to being associated with archetypes such as the pistol or shotgun, the most surprising feature is the alternative fire mode that each weapon has, useful in combat but also in puzzle solving or navigation as the best Metroidvanias teach.

Kenny, the gun played by Justin Roiland, can launch a viscous ball which, upon contact with enemies, blows them up making them easy targets, otherwise in a more cunning way it can be used to hit platforms and open new accesses. Tello, is a knife that feels a physical and ardent pleasure from being thrust into the tender flesh of clumsy aliens, but if necessary can be used as a grappling hook to move more quickly from platform to platform or to avoid enemy attacks by hovering in the air when the level allows.

Sweezy is a weapon clearly inspired by the needle gun from Halo, stinging both in his comments and in the hail of bullets he sticks into his enemies' butts. Among his abilities also that of generating a time bubble capable of slowing down time. Gus is a shotgun that by sucking in the air draws enemies towards its mouth, ready to inflict a lethal shot on the enemy's teeth. It becomes sharp when it spits out a rotating disc which in the exploratory phases can be fixed to the walls and used together with the grappling hook to reach high places.

Creature sends his little kids around to attack the opponent or to open doors and unblock passages in some rather basic sections of the game. The puzzle level is never able to worry, which is certainly an advantage for those who want to focus on the action, but could be viewed negatively by those who would have preferred a more creative use of exploration and puzzle solving skills.

How weapons react to surrounding enemies, often calling them a useless waste of time, or commenting on what the player is doing, with rants, taunts, or advice, they make an otherwise flat and bland encounter with enemies a little more bearable. Sometimes though the phrases repeat themselves and appear a little out of context like when my gun wants me to shoot his mucus at all costs even though the situation wouldn't call for it.

Is all that glitters gold?

Having such a well-stocked arsenal but not being able to fully express it due to a linear design without great treble, which marks the clashes as waves within arenas, is a real shame. If in the early hours one willingly indulges in indiscriminate carnage as in the frenetic death dances of the best DOOM, in the long run everything ends up being repetitive and tiring because the enemies are almost always the same and don't offer great stimuli.

A separate discussion must be made for the bosses who are characterized in a more marked way and presented with a small introduction as Borderlands would do. The game explores some interesting ideas, even outside of the shooter phases themselves, and design the arenas to also test movement skills such as jumping, sliding and dodging, managing to do better than in the standard combat phases. Some bosses are more inspired than others, however disappointing in the final battle, a moment which in my opinion should have stood out more.

If you are looking for variety in combat, the mod system can offer it, but you will have to carefully search for them in the crates scattered around the world or buy them in the hidden shops in the game areas because stopping at only the Blim City mods makes the system seem very superficial. The game tries to stimulate exploration, but it doesn't quite succeed because unless you feel like an avid treasure chest collector, you may not be so stimulated to wander in very similar scenarios within the same biome, with few points of interest to attract your attention. In borrowing ideas from other games to remix them, High on Life misses the full exploration pleasure of a Metroidvania.

In fact, from the second half of the game, the title begins to retrace areas already seen and although they are also aesthetically interesting and well cared for, there is an implicit repetitiveness in game events, in the way of approaching them and in the constant chatter of our weapons. High On Life is therefore one of those games whose shorter duration is a strong point and allows you to better tolerate any sections that are too similar to each other, after all a joke is good when it doesn't last long. I completed the campaign alone in about 7 hours and I appreciate that High On Life didn't want to impose secondary activities on me to fill the game world and leaving it up to me to discover what is hidden in a cinema or a skate park, sometimes even paying the price of being in some respects a bit empty if one decides to ignore the secondary aspects of the title.

High On Life between performance, bugs and stability

I played High On Life both before and after the launch patch and didn't encounter any major issues that prevented me from fully immersing myself in its madness. The build turned out to be quite stable, except for a post-patch crash that didn't compromise my hours of play, nor did it make me reload a checkpoint several times because the mission seemed blocked and didn't want to proceed any further.

The frame rate remained good, about 60fps in Full HD mode with all graphics settings set to maximum. I felt some sudden decrease especially when enemy reinforcements rushed to the ground and the number of characters in the area grew, but everything settled down in moments of pure action. If you also want to try the game, you can also find it on the Game Pass.

However, I did not appreciate the lack of basic accessibility features. There are options to adjust the patter of weapons and enemies, but there isn't the ability to adjust the FOV or improve the subtitles for those who feel the need. Too small and too fast for the constant number of interactions.

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