High on Life Review: Split right down the middle

Squanch Game’s fourth release is a fun game but its writing isn’t for everyone, especially those who don’t like Justin Roiland’s brand of comedy.

by Jeremy Cheong

Earlier this month, when I wrote our monthly games roundup, I mentioned that Squanch Games was a “brand new publisher-developer.” However, after doing some research while writing this review, I learned that High on Life is actually the studio’s fourth game. Their previous games especially 2016’s Accounting and 2018’s Dr. Splochy Presents: Space Heroes were VR-focused with the latter only available on Google Daydream. This is why I never knew Squanch Games existed as I rarely pay attention to VR games.

Is it just me or have I seen this fella in an episode of Rick and Morty before?

So in a bid to reach out to more mainstream gamers like me, the studio released action platformer, Trover Saves the Universe in 2019. The game can be played in VR but it isn’t essential to enjoying the game. High on Life follows in its footsteps and fully ditches the VR support. This will no doubt make it more accessible but head-scratchingly, it is only available for PC (Steam, Epic Games Store) and Xbox (Games Pass, One, Series X/S). The studio has not mentioned if the game will be released for the PlayStation or Switch.

In a galaxy filled with fart jokes

High on Life was created by Justin Roiland, who if you don’t know, is the co-creator of the popular adult animated sci-fi series, Rick and Morty. If you happen to be a fan of the series, then it is quite likely you will like High on Life as it shares a few similarities with its crass jokes, quirky alien species, intergalactic travel and copious amount of blood and gore.

You take on the role of a ne’er do well teenager who survives the invasion of Earth by the nefarious alien G3 Cartel. The reason for the invasion is that they have discovered the galaxy’s newest and most potent high–humans as drugs. While spying on the alien invaders, you find your first Gatlian–an alien race of living weapons–named Kenny on a dead alien’s body, who helps you despatch G3 goons and warps your house to the planet of Blim.

Expect plenty of real-world references in High on Life. This is one of the more annoying ones.

While on Blim, Kenny suggests that you seek out legendary bounty hunter, Gene Zaroothian to thwart the G3’s plans, only to find that he is now a washed-up hobo. After a brief negotiation, Gene sets up a wager with you whereby you get his bounty hunting gear and assistance but if you die, he gets your house. And so, your bounty-hunting adventure begins.

It is a familiar trope where the unassuming nobody ends up becoming the hero or in High on Life’s case, saviour of the galaxy. What sets High on Life apart though is obviously Roiland’s brand of comedy and creativity, which is a double-edged sword because not everyone will be a fan of his humour. Throughout the game, you face a constant barrage of jokes, very out-of-left-field events and just the most unpredictable outcomes that will either make you laugh out loud or cringe to the point you take a break from playing.

Besides utter nonsense, conversations with NPC can also get very grim.

However, I do have to give credit where credit is due because midway through, the story does get more serious and dare I say heavy. You will also find genuinely sweet and heart-wrenching moments in between those thick layers of nonsense. The overall pacing of the game is very well done; nothing feels rushed and you won’t find yourself losing track of the story.

The main thing that will definitely put some players off is the verbal diarrhoea from characters. The worst example is a certain flying NPC that obstructs a good portion of your view and you won’t be able to get rid of him until you reach a certain area. This can continue for up to five minutes and he just goes on and on about the most inane things. Other moments aren’t that bad but you will still have to contend with your sentient guns, who will either spout quips and praise or belittle you during gunfights. It can all be a little distracting but at least you can lower the frequency or totally turn off the enemy and Gatlian chatter.

This game takes its Illusion of choice very seriously.

What came as a nice surprise to me was the fact that High on Life actually gives players a little bit of control over how certain storylines play out through conversation choices or their actions. These choices aren’t as impactful as compared to the ones you make in Dragon Age, Fallout or Outer Worlds because High on Life doesn’t have branching paths or multiple endings but they will change how certain scenes play out. A good example is a seemingly friendly NPC that you can kill in one of the stages, but you find out he was actually one of the big baddies so the fight you eventually have with him gets slightly altered. This is quite a nice touch as it does give the game a little replayability, though there isn’t a New Game+ mode.

Blim me up, Scottie!

The sad part is, a part of me knows that many gamers will likely give High on Life a pass because, one, it doesn’t come from a well-known studio and, two, it has Roiland’s touch all over it. But if you are a fan of first-person shooters, I highly suggest that you give this game a chance because it is actually quite fun to play.

In terms of gameplay, High on Life shares similarities with Obsidian Entertainment’s Outer Worlds. While the game is very linear, it does give players the choice of how they would like to progress. The main goal in High on Life is for you to assassinate seven targets, six of which are leaders of the G3 Cartel. Targets are unveiled to you as you progress through the plot and you can choose which one you would like to eliminate first.

Nothing to see here. Just another one of them filler NPCs.

Once you have made your choice, you will then use a teleporter to travel to the location or worlds where these baddies have set up their base of operations. Each world is segmented into three or four different locations that are connected. While it isn’t a fully open-world game, the locations you visit are sizable instances and open for you to explore. There are four worlds in total but a majority of the action takes place in the jungle world of Zephyr Paradise and the desert world of Port Terene.

A lot of love and work has definitely been put into designing these worlds and their individual locations because they are truly unique from one another. Take, for example, Blim and the Slums, both of which are located in Nova Sanctus but the former is a bustling metropolis with skyscrapers while the latter is home to a shanty town and a toxic lake. Then in Port Terrene, the Outskirts are a desolate wasteland but Dreg Town is a busy city.

Sadly, all the locations feel very empty and devoid of life even when the locations are filled with NPCs. They just stand around and do nothing. There are NPCs that you can interact with but usually, they provide you with side quests to help you progress the main questline.

Puzzles are actually quite fun and do pose a bit of a challenge in High on Life.

Thankfully though, the exploration aspect is fun. Locations are usually filled with platforming puzzles that require some thought to figure out. Oftentimes you have to leave it and come back after you acquire a new suit upgrade or Gatlian to try again. These platforming puzzles will usually lead you to a living chest known as Luglox that is filled with the in-game currency, Pesos, and sometimes even collectable cards or upgrades for the Gatlians. Lugloxes are very easy to spot as they have glowing green antennas and if you have trouble getting to them, it just usually means you might not have the right Gatlian yet.

With Gats like these, you won’t have enemies

Speaking of Gatlians, these living and constantly talking weapons actually make the gunplay very interesting. In total, you will find five projectile-firing Gatlians and one melee Gatlian with each of them serving your traditional FPS weapon roles. Kenny is the pistol, Sweezy is the submachine gun, Gus is the shotgun and Creature is the projectile launcher. I’ll keep the fifth Gatlian’s role a secret as it delves into spoiler territory.

With all Gatlians, you have access to a primary, alternate and special “trick hole” firing mode. The primary firing mode is what you will use to kill enemies while the alternate and special firing mode is different for each Gatlian. Kenny’s alternate enables aiming down the sights and his special is called the “Glob Shot” which can bounce enemies into the air or be used to shoot platforms that can either be used as bridges or catapults. On the other hand, Gus’ alternate fire mode is a vacuum that sucks enemies towards you while his special launches discs that can be used as a platform or a way to bulldoze enemies in front of you.

Modifications also change the colour of Gatlians but not their personalities.

Initially, I thought only having four Gatlians would make the gunplay boring very quickly but you can actually upgrade the Gatlians and also modify how their alternate or special firing mode works. Upgrades are your standard fare, which includes ammo count, reload speeds, firing rate, etc. As for modifications, you can only equip one mod at a time and it usually helps with your play style. Kenny has modifications that let him fire multiple globs, globs that deflect off enemies or turn his aimed shots into a triple damage shot. So there is actually quite of bit of room for experimenting as each Gatlian has three modifications; you just need to buy or find them in Lugloxes.

Last but not least, I do have to talk about the enemy variety or the lack of them, actually. Throughout the game, you will be facing the same bunch and they consist of your standard FPS enemy types. Enemies on the G3 side are made up of the weak cannon fodder grunt, melee rusher, sniper and hard-hitting tank. In later stages, you will encounter G3 henchmen with more advanced armour. The enemy AI is fairly competent and won’t just bum-rush you; instead, they will flank you or even flush you with a grenade. But for most stages, you can run and gun your way through very quickly as you have a shield that can be replenished with pickups and regenerative health.

Bosses always get cool intros but tend to just gurgle when they die.

Boss fights on the other hand are decidedly more exciting and challenging. Each boss requires a different strategy to take them down whether it be using the environment or specific Gatlian’s trick shot. Some bosses even go through different states as you whittle down their health to keep you on your toes. For the most part, I was always excited to see how the boss fights played out and actually had a lot of fun during these moments.

Not too high, not too low

All in all, after spending 13 hours to finish High on Life, I would say that it is quite a fun romp if you have the mental fortitude to endure all the crass jokes, cringy dialogue and references and absurd situations. You could complete it in less time if you didn’t bother to search for the Lugloxes and just beeline it through the main story.

Alright Kenny! Let’s just sit here quietly and wait for a sequel.

Squanch Games had some very interesting ideas and overall made a very solid game, so I do hope that there is a sequel to High on Life. I would definitely dive into the sequel if it had less Rick and Morty-ness, and came with a more original storyline and jokes.


  • Justin Roiland’s brand of comedy
  • Unique weapons make for unique combat
  • Beautiful and colourful worlds to explore
  • Pacing of the story is just nice


  • Justin Roiland’s brand of comedy
  • Very forced Easter Eggs and references
  • Only a handful of weapons
  • Occasional bugs and glitches

High on Life

Graphics ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐
Plot ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐
Gameplay ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐
Addictiveness ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐

High on Life has Justin Roiland’s comedic and creative DNA splattered all over it, so while it is a fun first-person shooter due to its gunplay and exploration, the characters, story and dialogue will easily put a lot of people off this game.

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