Review: High on Life – Being Weird About Everything

Games that push the envelope on what is considered weird or edgy are nothing new. The entirety of the mid and late-90s was full of game releases that tried hard to shock, surprise, and even gross players out with their crude humor and bold choices. High on Life for Xbox Series consoles and PC is a game that not only feels inspired by some of that 90s vibe but blends together the modern humor you would find in an episode of Rick and Morty. It’s unapologetically blunt and obnoxious with its humor, while also trying to be a solid first-person shooter at the same time. However, the unfortunate truth is that if you’re not able to connect with this form of comedy and writing then you’ll struggle to enjoy most aspects of the game.

Justin Roiland, the creator of Rick and Morty, has a unique brand of comedy and dialogue that most fans of his previous work will instantly recognize. It’s the kind of jokes that not only point out aspects of society and have an element of being in-your-face or obnoxious, while also containing a bit of irony and comedic timing. This is plastered on every facet of High on Life, from the characters you meet to the guns you use and the situations you come across. To say it’s not for everybody is a massive understatement because most people who don’t connect with it often claim it’s trying hard to be high-minded or obnoxious and annoying. If you find yourself easily checking out of the jokes the game has, then it’s going to be a long 8 hours of game time with a ton more jokes you won’t care for.

The main plot of the game is pretty basic overall, but the comedy gives it a unique edginess that will pull you through. Aliens come to Earth to harvest humans as ingredients for drugs, and you have to team up with a talking alien gun named Kenny to stop them. Simple at heart, but the Roiland comedy is supposed to let it stand out as different, crude, and funny. You, or rather your character, go around different locations in space to collect bounties on aliens and gather enough resources to take on the G3 Cartel and save Earth. You pick up new talking guns and other upgrades along the way, while the story takes many weird twists and turns. If the comedy doesn’t turn you away at the start, then the story and interactions between characters can be enjoyable to see play out.

But if the writing doesn’t work out for you, can you still enjoy the gameplay overall? High on Life is straightforward as a first-person shooter. Movement and combat are very reminiscent of 90s shooters, with an entirely tutorial level at the start playing out like a stage of classic DOOM. It’s nothing special or incredibly different than most, but it’s good enough for anyone to get into fairly easily.

During the game, you get a handful of guns with different abilities that can be useful in combat. Unfortunately, you’ll probably end up only using Kenny as your main blaster for the majority of the adventure, with the occasional puzzle section where you’ll need another gun for the ability to get by. You can fight with all of them and take down enemies in neat ways, but it’s neither required nor interesting or efficient to do so, including some of the bosses fights you find yourself in.

Speaking of boss fights, the bulk of them look interesting at first but end up lame by the end. Some will require you to dodge incoming fire by using some of your abilities to swing around or evade attacks, while for others you can simply stand still and blast away. The game is very inconsistent with how strong bosses can be, both with their attack patterns and when there’s an opening to damage them. Often you’ll get a joke about certain shortcomings in the game’s mechanics or stumbles during moments like this, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re still there and affect the gameplay overall.

The guns you end up using throughout the game have their own wild personalities and zingers in almost every situation, including many variations on the kind of dialogue you’ll hear. More important to the gameplay however is how your guns can be upgraded at the pawn shop within the hub city area. Doing so requires gaining pesos from completing the bounties, opening chests scattered throughout each area, and defeating enemies you run into. You can end up finishing the game in full before ever getting all of the upgrades available to you, including movement upgrades for your character too. Do they help out with combat? Yes, but you might end up finding yourself going through everything without visiting the shop to upgrade more than a few times.

The biggest issue that High on Life suffers from is the number of bugs and glitches that pop up throughout the experience. While this might be an issue on certain consoles over others, such as playing on an Xbox Series S instead of a Series X, some players might experience some pretty nasty bugs that can ruin their time playing. This includes crashes back to the console dashboard at random moments, which can happen while going in-between menus or loading up an area you enter.

One of the worst bugs to encounter is when certain events are supposed to trigger but don’t happen after a shootout or boss fight. This can lock you out from the next event or sequence and force you to reload from a previous checkpoint or completely reboot the game. A few sections may also bug out wildly and cause duplicate enemies or bosses to appear in front of you, yet they don’t do anything and linger until you move on to the next area. These kinds of things happen enough to become a big problem to worry about if you’re playing for a long time.

High on Life won’t be for everyone and has enough lingering issues to make you question your time with it. There’s a good foundation here with the gameplay that definitely needs to have the bugs and glitches ironed out, which can make it a solid first-person shooter to play through over a weekend. Yet this brand of comedy will either make or break the enjoyment you have, especially if you don’t have the patience for it.

Did you get a chance to play High on Life yet? Are you a fan of the Rick and Morty humor and want to see how it works in this game? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

High on Life
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Average

This game won’t be for everybody because of its unique style of humor and writing. Some may find it too annoying, while others may enjoy what they hear. The visuals and presentation are good, and the story is interesting enough to warrant exploring more. There are also a few bugs and glitches that can affect the experience in a negative way that can be worked around.

Jakejames Lugo

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