High on Life is an absurd shooter with a silly setting, outrageous humor, and unique gameplay elements. While the combat can be sloppy and the game has an unpolished feel, it improves as players unlock new abilities and features. Despite its flaws, the game is worth playing for its memorable boss fights, exploration, and large number of terrible movies to watch.
Developer(s) – Squanch Games
Publisher(s) – Squanch Games
Engine – Unreal Engine 4
Platform(s) – Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Release – December 12, 2022
Genre(s) – First-person shooter
High on Life is a first-person platformer-shooter that follows a burbanite kid turned bounty hunter who is tasked with tracking down alien gangsters that have discovered they can smoke humans like pot. Set in a hub city with dimensional gateways to jungle and desert worlds, the game features looping main paths with enemy waves and hidden collectibles. Players can upgrade their weapons, and each gun has its own voice actor. The enemies in the game are a mix of melee, midrange, sniper, and midmax types, and the platforming sections are made more enjoyable by the game’s generosity in respawning players on ledges when they fall into hazards.
Despite these features, High on Life has its share of problems. The satirical humor of the game centers around picking at taboos and is presented in a spirit of irony, which can be off-putting to some players. The enemies in the game can sometimes get stuck in the geometry, which can be frustrating. Additionally, the game has a self-sabotaging sense of humor that can be grating to some players. It’s almost as if the game is aware of its own shortcomings and is trying to deflect criticism by poking fun at itself, but this approach doesn’t always land well with players.
Despite these issues, the game does have its moments of enjoyment. The platforming abilities, which include a grappling hook, jetpack, embeddable razor discs, and time bubbles, add some diversity to the gameplay. These abilities allow players to explore the game’s levels in new ways and add a level of strategy to how they approach each encounter. The game occasionally feels like a sandbox shooter in the tradition of Halo or Far Cry, with its focus on verticality and the creative use of alt-fires and terrain elements. These moments are few and far between, however, and the overall experience is forgettable.
One of the biggest disappointments of High on Life is its lack of depth. The levels are small and linear, and there isn’t much to explore or discover. The collectibles scattered throughout the game don’t add much value, and the story is thin and unengaging. It’s clear that the game was going for a satirical, tongue-in-cheek approach, but the execution falls flat. The humor is hit or miss, and the game’s self-awareness only serves to highlight its own shortcomings.
In conclusion, High on Life is a mediocre game with a few enjoyable moments. The platforming abilities add some diversity to the gameplay, and the game occasionally feels like a sandbox shooter in the tradition of Halo or Far Cry. However, the game’s self-sabotaging sense of humor, issues with enemy AI, and lack of depth make it a forgettable experience overall. Players looking for a good quality self-aware videogame comedy would be better off trying Psychonauts or Battleblock Theater.