Comedy Sci-Fi shooter from one of the creators of Rick and Morty – sounds promising, right? Fantastic colorful alien worlds, talking weapons, and Justin Roiland jokes, do you need anything else for a great few evenings? Um, it turns out you do.
|Game||High on Life|
|Link||Official website, Steam page|
Everything starts as best as possible. Not for the inhabitants of Earth, of course: they were attacked by an alien cartel, which aims to enslave all earthlings, because for aliens man is a new exotic drug. Yes, they literally stuff people alive into specialized bongs to get high, hence the name of the game. But for the player, everything is great: branded black humor, sketches, uncomfortable social comments, and mockery of the clichés of sci-fi pop fiction and computer games as such, a living weapon that has its own opinion about everything around, including about the behavior of the player themselves, caricatures aliens, glop – space monster crap as a protective suit, teleportation that doesn’t always work the way you expect it to, and a more or less decent plot.
But after a few hours, it turns out that the game is quickly exhaling, losing its originality and sometimes even its meaning. At the same time, there will be more and more dialogues and strained jokes, Roiland plays the same situations from different sides, as if the joke will become funnier if it is told a dozen times. Sometimes it’s very funny, but mostly you’ll have to face flat toilet humor, the punches of which lie so much on the surface that it’s even uncomfortable. Just to get the point across – some of the longest-running “jokes” in the game are a mortally wounded character asking to be by his side in his final moments, seemingly dying and coming back to life every time you leave the body and asking to come back, or an alien sperm seller, who will spend a good five minutes telling you in detail that he sells alien sperm, repeating this phrase literally in every sentence because it is surely funny. At the same time, this scene does not receive any further development. In principle, like everything that happens in the game, which in fact is just a set of separately existing gags, connected to each other only by a common theme.
But Rick and Morty work on roughly the same scheme – and everyone is delighted, so what’s the problem with High on Life? The thing is that the viewer consumes Rick and Morty in doses, the episodes are small, with an independent plot, and you are unlikely to watch them for several hours in a row, while the duration of High on Life is about 16 hours, if you carefully explore the surroundings, bother with few side tasks and listen to all the monologues (the main character is silent, so everyone around is usually chatting). Add another hour and a half if you decide to watch the movie Tammy and the T-Rex with young Paul Walker and Denise Richards, which the developers put into the game for some reason. Obviously, accustomed to short sketches, Justin Roiland and Alec Robbins, the narrative designer of Squanch Games, just can’t do a wider format on the same level.
This could be glossed over if High on Life worked as a shooter, but it doesn’t. The architecture of the levels is not bad, but the very process of their passage is still reduced to moving from one arena with enemies to another, usually a wasteland between them. At the same time, the shooting does not evoke positive impressions at all, it is viscous and lacks tangible feedback. The alternative fire modes save the situation a little, which allows you to create interesting situations during the battle and at the same time add mobility to the character. For example, a knife can turn into a whip, with which you can pull yourself up in specially provided places, and a disc that bounces between enemies can be driven into a wall and used as a platform. However, you won’t get far on this alone, so it’s not very interesting to shoot the same type of enemies for the second dozen hours in a row. It’s good that at least everything is in order with the bosses: they are made perfectly, each battle is not like the previous one and requires the player to coordinate movements and the ability to use the available arsenal correctly, you have to fly between platforms, run out of puddles of acid, shoot back at a crowd of minions, run on the walls and generally it’s not that easy for you. Here Squanch Games deserve a praise.
However, in general, the impressions of the game are mixed – really good jokes are drowned out against the background of a huge number of frankly weak ones, weapons that do not shut up at first amuse, and then it starts to annoy and you think about whether you can turn down the number of comments (yes, there is such an option in the menu). But not only weapons, all the NPCs you meet have something to say, but these endless monologues are usually about nothing, and the characters are also regularly offended when you walk away from them without listening to all the lines. The monotony of the gameplay and the constant chatter are banally tiring during long gaming sessions, so I would advise very dosed consuming of the game.
Towards the end, High on Life seems to have tired even the writers: they did not bother to write a normal ending, so it is not in the game as such, the resolution is presented in several slides during the credits that follow immediately after the fight with the last boss. There is also, of course, a “secret ending” that promises a sequel, but I’m not sure if it’s necessary.