High On Life Review

December 21, 2022

It should only take a few seconds into Squanch Games’ High On Life to determine whether you’re going to have a good time or not. The game begins with a parody of Quake-era shooters, while an irritating character on comms talks about fighting your ex-wife’s minions constantly, and while the game evolves from that prologue, the humour remains right around the same ballpark. The mega-self-referential style of cartoons like Rick and Morty and general internet humour isn’t for everyone, and your tolerance for having Justin Roiland look you in the eyes for eight hours and riff incessantly will determine whether you can grok High on Life. If you can, there’s a neat little FPS here that goes further than simply being a parody on the genre, but a colourful combination of cool elements.

High on Life begins as your character and their sister, home alone while their parents are away, witness the beginning of an alien invasion. The aliens, from a criminal cartel known as ‘G3’ realise they can smoke humans as drugs and begin their takeover, but not before your character finds a talking alien gun named Kenny who helps you warp your house to another planet and find a bounty hunter to help to defeat the G3. When that bounty hunter turns out to be a washed up, homeless layabout, it’s up to you to take on his bounty hunting equipment and murder your way through G3’s leadership to free Earth.

For a large chunk on of the game’s opening hours, you’ll have Kenny constantly talking to you, a variation on Roiland’s Morty voice. If you enjoyed Trover Saves the Universe or Accounting+ you’ll be used to his kind of riffing, although the game does give you the option to tone down how frequently he talks to you. However, there are a range of weapons, or ‘Gatlans’, in High On Life, each of them with their own personality and each of them voiced by their own comedian with a different style to Roiland, including Tim Robinson and JB Smoove, who’ll provide their own commentary. Even Australia’s animation superstar Michael Cusack gets a go as a psychotic knife. This actually goes a long way to preventing burnout on one particular voice, it’s just a bit of a stretch to get to your first new weapon.

High On Life’s universe feels a lot like Roiland’s other work, set in space with a wide assortment of weird aliens and bizarre sounding names, that often are meant to be intentionally gibberish or obvious (like ‘Space Applebees’). However, it’s also full of colour, detail and bizarre little jokes packed into every corner, more often than not references to game or internet memes. There’s even four Z-grade feature films packed in here, in their entirety, viewable on TV or movie screens, with one theatre even featuring full-length commentary from the RedLetterMedia gang.

As an FPS, High on Life surprisingly feels a lot like a spiritual successor to Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath. As a bounty hunter, you take on contracts for a range of crime bosses, wading through hordes of flunkies on your way to take out the target. While the gunplay starts off almost too simply, by the time you have access to the full range of Gatlans, there’s enough variety in both weapons and enemies to make for some pretty fun encounters. One Gatlan, Creature, is able to launch tiny babies to automatically track enemies and eat them alive, while another, Sweezy, can freeze time.

You’re also given a few movement options, included a limited jetpack, a grapple that can be used on Bioshock Infinite-esque rails, and a short dodge boost that can be used over short distances. Together, these are used for light platforming and puzzle solving across High On Life’s planets, but also add to your combat options and prove invaluable in boss encounters.

Using these tools together makes for a fun time in the limited sandbox High on Life provides. It’s not a terribly long game, running only around 8-12 hours at a stretch, and while there’s plenty of gags packed into that time-frame, it’s not without issues. Particularly encounters towards the end tend to default on throwing wave after wave of grunts at you without much reprieve, verging on too much repetition, and enemies increasingly seem to have difficulty with level geometry, often getting stuck on low ceilings or uneven ground. The number of planets included are also surprisingly limited as well – while it’s clear High on Life is going for a Metroidvania-esque revisiting of areas with new abilities to forge new paths, there’s only really three planets that you really feel like you get to explore, and one of them feels relatively unused.

High On Life is on GamePass right now, so there’s really no harm in giving it a try and seeing if the humour vibes with you. If it does, you’ll find a surprisingly enjoyable FPS that imbues character, sometimes literally, into every corner of its worlds and offers some fun tools to play around with. It’s not the longest or deepest experience out there, but if you’ve got a soft spot for Trover, Rick and Morty, Smiling Friends or that brand or self-aware riffing, High On Life is nice surprise.


-Small, but varied array of interesting weapons used for both combat and puzzle solving
-Roiland's brand of humour and weird alien creativity crammed into every corner of the worlds and design
-Rich Evans is in the game


-The humour and constant banter will be polarising for some
-Somewhat limited worlds and exploration, along with some bugs

Overall Score: