High On Life was made by the same person who made Rick & Morty and Solar Opposites.
You just graduated from high school and don’t have a job or any goals. You don’t have much going for you until an alien cartel that wants to get high off people invades Earth. Now, you and a team of charming talking guns must answer the hero’s call and become the deadliest intergalactic bounty hunter the universe has ever seen.
In Justin Roiland’s latest comedy adventure, you can go to different biomes and places in the universe, fight the bad guy Garmantuous and his gang of thugs, collect loot, meet interesting characters, and more.
At this point, it’s important to say that this is 100% a Justin Roiland project, with all the signs of his comedic style. Rapid-fire monologues, fart jokes, breaking the fourth wall, ad-libs, and dark comedy are all part of the story and presentation of the game. If you don’t like shows like Rick and Morty, Trover Saves the Universe or Solar Opposites, you probably won’t like this. Still, I can handle this kind of silliness very well, and I found myself laughing throughout the 10-hour trip.
I thought it was funny that Squanch Games “enjoyed” licensing four full-length bad B-movies just because it could. When a voice actor clearly improvised and laughed in the middle of a rant, I did too. I always laughed at the jokes that made references to other things, like when Kenny the pistol gave a full-throated endorsement of the indie game Donut County.
Everything has a real charm to it. Even though some of the jokes don’t work and the gun in my hand sometimes talks too much, it’s clear that the people who worked on High On Life game had a good time making it. As the scenes went on, I never knew what was going to happen next, and that made the experience better. In all honesty, this unruly approach is the only way some jokes work. For example, “Space Applebee’s” has a whole scene where the waiter keeps interrupting you as you order food.
But Squanch Games also knows that this kind of humor isn’t for everyone. For those who don’t like the constant chatter, there is an option to turn down the banter.
Once you get past the game’s silliness and pay attention to it, High On Life is a good 3D shooter that makes you feel like Samus Aran. Each of the different biomes I explored was full of secrets, like living chests with gold in them or random NPCs who would give me a quick joke or a short side quest. As the game goes on, you find a jetpack that lets you move up and down, which makes exploring even more fun.
Also, these worlds are big. The game tries to make up for this by giving me a waypoint system that shows me where my goal is and how far away it is. Sometimes this system gets its wires crossed, and when I reach one waypoint, I end up back where I just came from. However, most of the time, all I have to do is tap the D-Pad to go in the right direction. In the later parts of the game, the waypoints also became a crutch, because if I didn’t use them, I would sometimes go to the wrong part of the map and get lost. The system isn’t perfect, but the waypoints work most of the time.
The Gatlians are all different, both in what they say and how they are used in battle. Kenny is the resident pistol, Gus is the resident shotgun, Knifey is the… uh, knife, and Sweezy acts like the Needler from Halo. Creature is the most interesting weapon because it works like a Pikmin device, sending small creatures at enemies to hurt them over time. All four are useful in battle because they give you an edge against certain enemies and make it important to switch guns during a fight.
Each gun has a second ability that helps with traveling and solving puzzles in the environment. As I progress, this helps me see more of the world. Kenny can fire blasts of thick slime that will hit specific obstacles and let you pass. Sweezy can fire a shot that slows down time in the area where it lands. This makes her the best person to use to get past fast-spinning fans that would hurt someone else. I can also use these special shots in battle. For example, Kenny’s slime shots can launch opponents into the air for extra hits, giving me even more options.
Using the Gatlians in battle is a lot of fun, and the enemies I’m facing fit right in with the game’s weird and funny style. The bad guys are all covered in some kind of yellow slime, the source of which I won’t give away, and as you hurt them, the slime wears off, revealing their gray bodies. Even though it’s weird, it’s a good way to see how much damage you’ve done to a specific enemy and it lets you make your own weak spots. If an enemy is hiding behind cover but has a gray patch of skin on its arm that you can hit, the enemy will die quickly. It’s a clever way to show how much damage enemies have taken in battle without giving them health bars or something similar.
But most of the enemies I’ve met are as stupid as rocks. I could run up to any normal grunt and kill it with a gun or my bare hands without taking much damage. There were times I couldn’t win a battle and had to try again, but that was more because I was too eager than because my enemies were smarter than me.
Most boss bouts include shooting and dodging. Some of them shake things up, whether they implement the special shot of the Gatlian you’re about to rescue (Krubis fires big discs you can reflect back at him), or give you many monsters to face at once. At their essence, they’re basically bigger grunts.
Some skirmishes’ length makes battle tedious. Each battle has two or three waves of adversaries. Some are lengthier.
High On Life is a modern Metroid Prime game through Justin Roiland’s comic antics. Similar exploration and battle, but with expletive-laden jokes and incomprehensible mumbling. The offbeat story is well-told, with memorable characters and scenes. Even if you don’t like High On Life’s comedy, the game is fun.