Title: High On Life
Developer: Squanch Games
Release Date: December 13, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Squanch Games
Squanch Games is back with its new title. Unlike their previous titles, which include Accounting and Trover Saves the Universe, High on Life is an accumulation of the years of feedback the team has received and a level of writing that only this team can deliver. Of course, Justin Roiland fans will be quick to want to jump in if only to hear his signature humor, but I believe this game offers more to any who wishes to experience a fun, over-the-top action game.
High on Life allows you to choose a character before you are whisked away to another planet to take on the role of a bounty hunter and save the human race. It’s a heavy burden, but hey, someone has to do it. An alien race known as the G3 Cartel has captured Earth, but now that you’re in your new role, you will hunt down their strongest supporters while earning a few Pesos on the side.
The story is where High on Life puts a significant emphasis on. While you can approach this adventure at your own pace, taking things slowly will provide some of the most humorous NPC writing in any game. This game is just so self-aware of the gaming genre and gamers. An NPC just helped you, and you try to pull the trigger. Well, they’ll ask why you were about to kill them.
Constantly throughout the adventure, I was wondering if I was just a basic gamer as the characters would call out everything I did. On the other hand, perhaps gamers are just that predictable, and I wasn’t as unique as I thought. Suffice it to say, I loved it, and I wouldn’t consider myself a Rick and Morty fan, either. Although the voice of Justin Roiland is close to his portrayal of Morty, there are a few personality differences.
However, I might be getting ahead of myself. On the topic of Roiland, he lends his voice to the first weapon you acquire. Known as Galatians, players will receive one after each bounty. Galatians each have their own personality and are voiced by some prominent actors in the community. The best moments are when they commit to your actions as you explore the environment. Taking too long in an area may even elicit a comment telling you to hurry up or provide hints to move on.
The weapons are exceptionally creative here. Each feels different and has multiple use cases, including abilities that aid in the traversal. For example, visitable planets have platforming sections that require using these abilities in various instances. From moving platforms to slowing down time, I enjoyed just how versatile these weapons are. There are also environmental hazards that you can use against enemies to make combat a little easier.
Enemies in the game do get a tad bit repetitive. However, this isn’t due to the limited variety, but just how you face off against wave after wave of them. I feel like these encounters are simply there to make stages a little longer, but I had no complaints about the length of the stages. Hence, I wish there were so many waves of the same enemy type, especially when you need to clear out every enemy and one seems to be lost in some random room.
Boss battles are each the highlight of the levels. They are challenging and force you to utilize skills you’ve acquired throughout the stage. However, they feel like significant bullet sponges as their health bar inches down. Regardless, they are memorable fights that deliver some hilarious interactions.
The level design encourages exploration, if not to interact with every NPC on the field, but to search for Pesos and collectibles. Still, you can just as quickly run through the levels and follow the quest marker to get the bounty taken care of. It’s possible to return to levels, though, which you’ll likely want to do once you’ve acquired new weapons that can unlock new paths.
When it comes to the overall experience, each interaction felt unique. Due to the various choices you can make during dialogue, you’ll shape the conversation. I’m unsure if they change the story significantly, but the conversation paths are fun to witness. I mostly enjoyed the level of discovery no matter what you do. You can purchase upgrades that speed up traversal, which you’ll definitely want because running never feels fast enough.
This is a game that knows its audience and delivers. However, depending on your pace, I’m afraid those who attempt to rush through will likely not receive the complete package. Further, the tight gunplay weighs on the player wave after wave of enemies who have some rather comical doll physics.
Graphically, High on Life is colorful and vibrant, which clashes well with its crude humor and graphic scenes. There are a few oddities that I encountered, but nothing in the realm of game-breaking. The developer also promises a day-one patch that fixes some outlining issues.
High on Life knows what it wants to be and delivers that experience to players who likely want the same thing. The level of humor and writing is on another level. Still, you’ll want to pace yourself, if only not to grow tired of the waves of enemies you’ll encounter, which is thankfully broken up with platforming sections and standout interactions. The phrase, “Made by gamers, for gamers,” has never rung truer than when describing High on Life.
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