We were able to play an early mission from Squanch Games’ first-person shooter, the studio of Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland. There’s a lot of humor in High On Life, but is the gunplay right?
All screenshots and video scenes are from GamersGlobal
Squanch Games once began under the legally not entirely unobjectionable Squanchtendo and was originally founded by Justin Roiland together with Tanya Watson, a former executive producer at Epic Games, to create fun VR titles. After together with the Stanley Parable-Developers designed accounting followed the jump-and-run Trover Saves The Universe (in the test, grade 7.5), which could optionally also be played without a VR headset. Now follow me High on Life a first-person shooter for PC and Xbox consoles without any virtual reality ambitions, but with plenty of humor, since you find yourself as a normal human in an alien world and are given very talkative weapons.
What remains unchanged about Trover’s adventures: Roiland speaks various characters himself and who once series like Rick & Morty or Solar Opposites who saw the original sound with pleasure will be happy about the very familiar voices of their own arsenal of weapons in High on Life. Why friends of Roiland’s humor can definitely look forward to the release of the shooter in December of this year, but where the gameplay is based on my experience with the introductory version on the Gamescom 2022 could do with fine-tuning, you can find out in this preview including a 4K/60 video.
|The design of the aliens like Gene is very comic-like with all the texture details and although the sister or the parquet floor are much more realistic, it is precisely this contrast that makes the art design interesting.|
Space Bounty Hunter
I experienced a fairly early part of the game after the opening, in which your alter ego’s hitherto unexcited life is turned upside down. Aliens, who make drugs out of humans, start an invasion of the earth, kidnap your parents and your family house (including lawn) is teleported to the middle of a big city on another planet. But you have two helpers at your side: On the one hand, the more or less friendly alien Gene. It got a teleporter for bounty hunters and as such you will hire yourself in High on Life to save your parents. That’s where your second helper comes into play: your talking pistol.
I’m a spectator for a long time while Gene argues with my stoned(?) sister, who he mistakes for my mother or warns me that he doesn’t like getting up for big business and that he will probably defecate on the sofa. I’m momentarily transfixed by the ridiculously pointless TV commercial before breaking free and telling Gene that the first job can come. The teleporter isn’t working yet, but fortunately the destination is in the slums of the big city: Gang boss 9-Torg has tricked Gene into a special knife that he wants back.
I don’t linger long around Hub, on the way down I have to tell one of two identical garbage can-like guards which of them is more attractive so they open the door to the depths. At the end of a tube down there is a kid who calls me “fresh meat” and does everything he can to annoy me with his talk. Apparently High on Life wants me to shoot the tormentor. I try it first with a warning shot, but although I aim wrong, my gun reacts as if I wanted to shoot at the small ones and refuses – yet. Because shortly afterwards I wrongly think the door won’t open otherwise and rivet him down anyway (I would have only had to shoot a few drones in the process). After that, my gun complains that I’ve raised the age rating of the game and at the end of this series of gags, the first NPC I talk to turns out to be the boy’s mother. Shortly thereafter, the first real fight starts, but even then there is never any peace, if the gun doesn’t comment on what’s happening, then the enemies.
The developers have given the all-clear that there will not be constant chatter, so the humor is always present – if you can’t laugh about it, you’ll quickly want to avoid High on Life. In the allusive version, many of the sayings were context-related and there were hardly any repetitions, so it is to be hoped that the chatter output will remain at the same level.
|The knife Knifey not only leaves marks on opponents, but also makes my figure more agile.|
My psychopathic friend Knifey
Since I only have the starting pistol at first, the shootouts are a straight forward affair, I just keep aiming, not ignoring exploding barrels either. However, neither my hits nor the projectiles hitting me have enough impact. On the bottom left, a radar shows where enemies are coming from, but when enemies are one floor below me, I locate it worse than if the HUD were to show the approximate direction of the shot (in this case from the bottom left) by coloring the field of view on the edge or by other means . I can fire 12 projectiles before the pistol has to reload. For this I withdraw the benefit above the “runs” which looks very slimy. In general, the biological design of the Wumme is very nicely implemented, including details such as the pistol’s antennae bending into a kind of round sight when aiming over the rear sight.
In addition to standard projectiles, I can also fire a special shot that knocks down obstacles in the level or knocks enemies into the air. If I manage to hit them before they hit again, it does extra damage, but even so, the enemies, who look like humanoid ants, quickly fall out of their shoes, their heads like to fly off and green blood splatters around. A heavy security door blocks the way, I have the choice how to get the gangsters to open the door. Since we overheard the villains earlier, we know that one of the two’s lover died. I can’t resist and instead of pretending that I’m the potential buyer for the knife, my gun pretends to be the dead lover in a disguised voice. The two take it with humor and I can take the goods in my hands.
The knife you are looking for can also speak and introduces itself as Knifey. Knifey constantly raves about killing fantasies, which I’d rather not repeat too extensively at this point. One of the most harmless: After I’ve stabbed the opponents, it asks very painfully that I please slit open my own abdominal wall, but when we talk about Gene and 9-Torg, it prefers to kill them both first. Apart from the disturbing things Knifey says, he becomes a valuable addition to the arsenal: melee attacks with him are strong, he also serves as a whip to pull himself onto ledges and in the final boss fight against 9-Torg I can even use some attacks from reflect her with the knife blade. When I stab an opponent in the first regular fight with Knifey, he’s over the moon. “Just do this! Don’t fire anymore! Do an Any% Knife Run!” he yells at me, and I know the speedrunners of this world will probably happily take the suggestion. But even with knifey and pistol I can’t beat 9-Torg in two attempts and unfortunately my time with High on Life is up.
Author: Hagen Gehritz (GamersGlobal)
Opinion: Hagen Gehritz
High on Life’s shootouts are playfully entertaining, but in this aspect some things don’t quite feel right yet. The hit feedback is too lax, sometimes I didn’t have an overview of where I was being shot at and, above all, the action is sometimes too hectic. Time slows down when I aim my special shot, but enemies that are thrown in the air only hover for a short time, making it difficult for me to repeat multiple hits. During the final boss fight, the arena sank into an unhealthy soup and I had to keep myself in the air with the knife-whip, but it could be difficult to keep an eye on another climbing point with the controller, especially when I maneuvered into corners and then had to spin in the air.
I hope that Squanch Games will improve it before the release in December 2022, because otherwise the title left a positive impression. The pretty style combines comic and realistic elements in an interesting way, the bounty hunter premise is exciting and after pistol and knife I’m looking forward to getting to know more talkative weapons and their special functions.
The fact that I had fun with the introductory version, despite the rough edges in the gameplay, is largely due to the humor, with which I am very compatible. From the nonsense that separates the opponents to some mean options in the dialogues to the absurd TV commercials that could also run in Rick & Morty: I enjoyed all of that a lot. At some point I couldn’t continue playing straight away because I threw myself away laughing.
High on Life
Preliminary pros & cons
- Unusual scenario with a lot of wacky humor
- Special functions of the weapons are also used for locomotion and environmental puzzles
- Interesting graphic style and great “biological” design of the pistol
- Operation and hit feedback still has room for improvement
- At one point, my attempt to fire a warning shot was not properly recognized
The often black, sometimes disgusting and very sloppy joke of High on Life is certainly not for everyone – but if you can get something out of the Rick & Morty series, the humor will seem familiar in a positive way and will soon make you laugh. The game does that brilliantly. The shooter gameplay also shows potential, but still seems unpolished.