Squanch Games is a studio that was co-founded by Justin Roiland, the co-creator behind the top-rated adult swim animated show, Rick And Morty. Over the past couple of years, the studio has developed a few original titles, the most notable of which was the VR game Trover Saves The Universe. And now, Roiland and his team have now cooked up a brand new FPS, which we will now discuss in our High On Life review.
At the core the game might be an FPS, but what makes it stand out on its own lies in its crude humor and writing as well as the distinctively designed action scenarios which are an absolute joy to experience. However, High On Life may prove to be a hit or miss, so let’s elaborate more on that and the other elements below.
Story And Setting
Our story kicks off in a friendly neighborhood where we are introduced to an unnamed family who is peacefully living their everyday life. Our protagonist, a fresh high school graduate, finds himself at the bottom of the barrel when suddenly an alien invasion occurs. These aliens run a syndicate that officially calls itself the G3 Cartel, and their plan is to harvest human beings and their vital resources for the production of their drugs.
However, you are soon introduced to Kenny, another extraterrestrial lifeform known as a Gatling who embodies himself in a pistol. He teleports you, your sister, as well as your house to an alien settlement in the Galaxy known as the city of Blim. The location is bustling with life and you will meet tons of other characters and alien species here, as you become a bounty hunter with the goal of taking down the G3 Cartel one by one.
Kenny acts as your sidekick of sorts during gameplay as he hilariously monologues during key moments, as well as adding additional layers to an otherwise silent protagonist. He is voiced by none other than Justin Roiland, who if you’re familiar with also voices numerous characters on Rick And Morty.
While exploring the city and other worlds, you will come across a few other Gatlings too who will lend their services to you in battle, such as Gus, a high-powered shotgun-like being, and Knifey, a literal knife who can also act as a grappling hook. While these Gatlings can certainly become annoying to listen to, thankfully their voices can be turned off. But at the end of the day it all comes down to personal preference, and being a fan of Roiland’s other work I found the vulgar writing of the game surprisingly amusing.
Lizzy, your sister, stays by your side throughout the main campaign while adding a level of emotional depth to this comical space adventure. Overall, if you’re not a fan of the comedy that the game brings through its crude and non-sensical writing, then you’d be wise to ignore it as best as possible as we now move on to discuss the gameplay aspects.
The gameplay of High On Life is action-packed at every interval thanks to its sandbox shooting gunplay and parkour sections which may seem familiar to Doom Eternal players. Each of the Gatlings that you possess offers a wide range of creative mechanics to take down your foes, from Kenny’s slime special fire making enemies juggle for a brief moment to Gus’ special ability to vacuum enemies towards you during the battle for easy kills.
The gameplay elements may feel copy pasted from other shooter titles, but thankfully there is enough enemy variety that it becomes a joy to plow through each one, despite Kenny hilariously breaking the fourth wall and telling you that they aren’t worth the effort. You have unlimited ammo to use at your disposal so the only time you will ever look to recharge something is the special abilities of the weapons.
Speaking of weapons, killing off enemies will net you currency to purchase valuable upgrades for them, making each one feel powerful and letting you modify the output of each attack. The enemies themselves range from your typical G3 Cartel gang members to other Insect-like monsters joining the chaotic frenzy during battle.
During each chapter, you will even run into boss battles that have unique mechanics of their own, so that each one feels more unique than the other as they keep you on the edge of your seat, even on normal difficulty.
The exploration unfortunately doesn’t reward you too much with anything other than chests, which contain your usual pesos which you can exchange to buy the weapon upgrades and health packs. It is an element I wish was more defined but at least the world and NPCs make up for it because the game is filled with an array of interactions that will either make you facepalm or laugh due to their absurd style of humor.
However, underneath all of the standard tropes present here, the gunplay overall feels mildly satisfying as you grapple-hook your way across environments and boss fights and demolish your foes in various brutal ways, High On Life generally has an adequate gameplay loop that will hopefully make you stick with it throughout its relatively short campaign.
Visuals And Performance
It may come off as a concern that the game runs on Unreal Engine 4, but thankfully the developers at Squanch Games have optimized it brilliantly so that it can run at the best possible settings for performance without losing too much image quality. The visuals look superb, from the glamorous dystopian sights of Blim to the various run-down facilities and factories that you will be rampaging through on your hunt for the G3 Cartel members.
The game has a highly saturated degree of colors which may be distracting to players, but of course, you can tune these settings to your liking via the Gamma and brightness adjustments of both the game and your display. Performance-wise, we ran the game on our RTX 3060Ti since it is generally demanding on the highest settings, but we can assure you that most players with mid-tier graphics cards such as the GTX 1060Ti or even the AMD RX 580 should face no trouble at mid to high graphical settings.
Most importantly, we were disappointed with the fact that were no upscaling options available for either Nvidia DLSS or even AMD’s FSR. It is a missed opportunity, one which I hope will be added with an update because it will gradually boost the performance metrics of the game for several users.
High On Life has the gameplay elements going for it, but the main meat of the piece here lies in its crazy writing as Roiland and his team of writers at Squanch Games have spared no effort in making the game have the crudest humor and writing imaginable. Your tolerance of the witty monologing from your weapons especially Kenny, may depend on your mood as he can either get insufferable or intriguing as time goes on.
The gunplay meets the standard expectations one might’ve had before release, but if you’re in it for the Rick and Morty type of humor, then this game will deliver on that for you at least. Aside from that, the game does have some intricate character growth moments, but they feel relatively outweighed by the comedy factor.
Overall High On Life may just be a game that will be worth checking out solely due to its writing, which may or may not be cringe-inducing depending on your sense of humor.
This has been our High On Life Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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High On Life Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
High On Life may have a lot going on in terms of the gameplay elements, but the writing can be incredibly hit or miss depending on your personal sense of humor.
- Humorous Storytelling
- Fun Characters And NPCs
- Beautiful Art Design
- Subpar Gameplay
- Repetitive Exploration
- Lack Of Upscaling Options