Note: This review is for the PC version of High on Life, as we didn't receive Xbox code until this week. You'll find some early impressions based on the Xbox Series X version of the game in the "Second Opinion" section.
OK. Look. We've been deep in conversation about High On Life at Pure Xbox over the past few days since we finally got our hands on review code, and we think it's fair to say that the humour in this game is slightly divisive. If you're a Rick and Morty fan, if you love what Justin Roiland brings to the table with regards to his brand of stoner comedy, well, you're probably gonna have a great time laughing at all the childish profanity here. From this writer's perspective, it's one of the worst things we've played in quite some time, an ignorant, selfish, janky game with a rotten attitude that radiates a deep hatred of video games and gamers in general.
Woah. That's... that's like... that's not cool, man, no way, back up here. That is harsh. Woah. Let's... let's like, let's get some lines of cocaine in here, dude, let's just chill the f**k out and stab someone and make a couple of suicide jokes and think about this. Like, holy s**t, dude. Dude. Dude, do you like how we're talking right now like this? Dude? Because you're in for ten hours of this, dude. Seriously. Wow. Just... jeez. We've tried. Honestly, we (and we mean the royal we here) have tried really hard with this one, and it's just not gonna work out. From an opening sequence that's offering you drugs about two minutes in (because that's what you gamers think is cool isn't it?) to how it constantly berates gaming culture and harshes on gaming clichés without offering up any better alternatives or improving upon anything it's ripping into, this is an experience that absolutely blows from beginning to end. Dude.
But wait. There's really no point in us going down this path with our review, we obviously just don't get it, and we're being super negative and uncool right now and we're just harshing on everyone's vibe and why are we trying to ruin everything, dude? So let's shift away from the comedy and just focus on the mechanics. Let's focus on the incredibly bland shooting, the dumb enemy AI, the clunky traversal, the bugs that forced us to reload missions on numerous occasio...dude! You are really killing the vibe right now. This is... you need to chillax, bro, seriously. Jeez. Here, take a hit on this bong, man. Stab somebody and cheer up, what is your deal bro? Are you? You need to get laid, bro.
The central conceit of High On Life, the entire reason Justin Roiland made this game, is because he's had the inspired idea to have your player character wield guns that talk. Constantly. They never stop talking. If you live with other humans you're gonna have to turn the sound down almost immediately here because it's non-stop profanity, non-stop violence and non-stop references to sex acts and going to the toilet in your own trousers, it's the kind of game that makes you embarrassed to be seen or heard interacting with it. That is harsh, man, that sucks, but it is true, and we are so high right now. So hungry.
So you've got these talking guns, it grows old really quickly, and they're shouting stuff and cursing and talking about drugs or whatever man, seriously, we need to crap so bad right now, and you warp around levels full of ineffective enemies, absolutely cretinous AI opponents who run in a straight line at your position and don't show any signs of utilising actual strategy. As you make your way through the campaign you'll find new guns, a shotgun, an SMG, all the usual stuff, and they all talk, they're all voiced by actual comedians, and by Justin Roiland, and you'll love it if you like Rick and Mort...dude...dude we just farted so hard. Seriously. That's like a fart baby, we've just had a fart baby, it's fully grown. It's like a fully grown fart baby. Is this annoying?
There's a bunch of awful boss battles too, really lazy stuff, just stand your ground and shoot, don't worry about tactics, nobody cares we're all stoned right? And so you're this bounty hunter now, sorry, we got side-tracked there and you take on missions and kill all these useless goons and the guns never stop talking and people go to the toilet on themselves. It's...dude it's so funny if you like this stuff. Man. Have we ever told you about the time we went to the toilet? Dude. My God. You should have seen that s**t.
On a more positive note, there are attempts to make traversal interesting, you can zip around environments by holding in the left shoulder button and attaching to ziplines (it doesn't feel great a lot of the time because this game is janky) and there's platforms and bridges to manipulate by shooting them, but it just all feels really old hat, really sloppy and just... dude. Dude. Dude. Seriously though, dude. Dude. Dude. Dude. Dude. Relax.
There's some Metroidvania elements that raise the bar a little bit, you'll get a jetpack and the ability to shoot metal discs into red flashing pieces of wall so you can explore new areas, but it's all so laboured. This game just doesn't really care about the game parts of its own game. Woah. Dude. That was like...have you ever done that thing where you stand in front of a mirror and there's, like, there's another mirror and it's just like infinity mirrors? Because that sentence was like infinity mirrors, bro. Oh my God. This weed is so powerful. Imagine somebody peed on themselves right now. We would literally crap to see someone pee right now.
In the end, what you've got with High On Life is a game that some people are going to love, they're going to love it because they love pee and poopie. Hahaha. Man, peepee is hilarious. However, it's hard to feel enthusiastic about this one overall. All joking aside, it's a bunch of janky combat, tedious exploration, lazy collectables and humour that is either going make you laugh your head off or delete the game immediately. This review is on the delete side of the fence, but don't take it personally dude, jeez. Like seriously.
High On Life combines sloppy shooter action with Justin Roiland and all of his pals being incredibly annoying. You're either going to love it or hate it, really, so it's lucky this one's hitting Game Pass so you can check it out and decide for yourselves. Personally, this reviewer hated the humour, there's something very off and deeply troubling at the heart of where this game is coming from, it feels as though it's looking down, sneering and hateful. But that's the comedy style it's going for so we guess we need to relax, bro. Some people are going to eat this stuff up, regardless of what we think, so it's a shame that it ties this sneering attitude to bland gameplay, tired puzzles, dumb AI and a world that just isn't fun to explore or inhabit in any way. Dude. That is harsh.