Squanch Games' High on Life is one of the most highly anticipated Xbox Game Pass launches we've seen in 2022, and for good reason! The game, which is the brainchild of Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, attracted massive hype over the summer in response to its various gameplay reveals, and even though it was recently delayed until December 13th, the excitement levels don't seem to have dropped one iota in recent weeks.
Ahead of High on Life's Xbox Game Pass launch this December, we had a chance to speak to Mike Fridley (Studio Director, Squanch Games) about what to expect from the game, how long it will take to beat, what it's been like partnering with Xbox on the launch, and a variety of other topics!
Pure Xbox: Hello! Firstly, could you introduce yourself and your role on High on Life?
Mike Fridley: Hi there, I'm Mike Fridley, the Studio Director here at Squanch Games. I do all the boring operational and business development work behind the scenes here at Squanch. I'm also a really good joke writer, but no one will put my stuff in the game.
Pure Xbox: For those who perhaps aren't aware of it, what can players expect from High on Life on Xbox Game Pass this December?
Fridley: "Something different" is the short answer.
We aren't afraid of colour and are really developing our own visual style, which is a bit different than what you see out there in the FPS market right now. At its core, High on Life is a comedic narrative shooter set in a universe not unlike what fans have come to expect from Justin Roiland. Offbeat characters and alien worlds aplenty. But it is a different IP than Justin's other work. We are building something new with HoL that is in that style, but ours alone. Underneath that wrapper is a well-thought-out and designed first-person shooter with meaningful upgrades, truly fun boss battles and loads of fun traversal options.
Pure Xbox: The weapons are basically like characters in High on Life! Where did that idea come from, and do they follow familiar weapon categories like shotguns, rifles, etc?
Fridley: The guns as a character idea is Justin's. He basically founded the studio just to get this idea made. The guns all have their own personalities and unique combat experiences. But to answer the question, yes, they do fall into the familiar gun categories like pistol, shotgun, SMG.
Pure Xbox: From what we've seen so far, the levels in High on Life look open, yet fairly dense. What's the game's structure like? Is this a strictly linear experience?
Fridley: It is not what most people would consider to be strictly linear. It is more like a Metroidvania in the content layout. There is a large, interconnected galaxy that the player will be able to explore from the central hub of their house in Blim City. Certain areas and secrets will be locked off until the player has acquired some new gear or completed a certain mission. The levels themselves do offer a bit of roaming, but it is not what most people would consider "open world."
Pure Xbox: Can you give us any kind of indication how long High on Life will take to beat?
Fridley: Obviously, it depends on how much of a completionist you are as a player, but our average for just the "main story" of the game is between 10-12 hours of gameplay. But with all the collectibles and side content you can easily spend between 20-25 hours playing.
Pure Xbox: High on Life generated massive hype over the summer - you must have been really pleased with the general reaction?
Fridley: Oh yeah, we're absolutely thrilled about the reception we've received so far. It was honestly unexpected. We knew that we would get some attention from fans of Justin's other work, but didn't expect to be embraced so quickly by the larger gamer community. It has been great to see the players start to validate what we've known about this game for a while now. We're just hoping we can live up to the hype!
Pure Xbox: You've partnered with Xbox to release High on Life as a (timed?) console exclusive, and it's also on Xbox Game Pass at launch. How have you found working with Xbox, and what are your thoughts on being part of Game Pass on day one?
Fridley: Xbox has been an absolute dream to work with. They have been very supportive in their efforts to help us market High on Life and have completely stayed out of any development of the game. This is what we like to call "the perfect partner" around here.
As a Game Pass subscriber, I know how great of a service it is firsthand and we all know how much of a reach the service has on both console and PC. We're pumped to get as many people playing our game as possible so Game Pass is a perfect fit for us.
Pure Xbox: Xbox accidentally told everyone back in August that High on Life was "now playable" with Game Pass - it was fixed very quickly of course, but we're interested to know if this generated any discussion amongst the High on Life team?
Fridley: Not really. I'm pretty sure most of the team is too focused on shipping a great game to have even noticed it. I think it was some kind of internal miscommunication that was quickly fixed.
Pure Xbox: Does the team have any DLC ideas in the pipeline for post-launch content?
Fridley: We will absolutely be supporting the game post-launch, but we are not ready to announce what that timeline looks like just yet.
Pure Xbox: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to say to the Xbox fans out there ahead of High on Life's launch this December? What's one feature in the game that you're particularly excited to see the community experience?
Fridley: I'm really excited to see how players like the warp-base feature in the game. The high level of the feature is that there are items in the game that will allow you to warp in random bases to your location. These "bases" can be anything really that fits into the area that we have set aside for them in the world. Some of our crazy ideas from internal game jams have made their way into these warp bases, and I think they are hilariously fun.
We have put a lot of our heart and soul into this game and really hope the players will love playing it as much as we have enjoyed making it. Squanch Games wants to keep bringing you oddly entertaining games for years to come!
We'd like to thank Mike Fridley for taking the time to talk to us. High on Life launches on December 13th, 2022 as part of Xbox Game Pass for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and PC, and we absolutely can't wait to play it!