When I wasn’t playing As Dusk Falls on my Steam Deck, I enjoyed High on Life. It’s a very weird game, sometimes funny and sometimes cringe, but pretty great overall. Plus, it’s on Game Pass. The story was weird and guns even weirder, but those guns are the stars of the show. Too bad, I started playing in the middle of the whole Justin Roiland drama.
High on Life Game Story
No surprise the story is out there with the creator of Rick and Morty at the helm. Justin Roiland was mostly known for that show, but the success of the game also revealed his legal issues. Unfortunately, the legal issues overshadowed the intense popularity High on Life and the talented developers at Squanch Games.
The story started with an alien invasion. That’s not unique, but the reason for the invasion is. These Aliens are drug dealers and humans are the drug. That’s where the “High” in the game name comes in. Definitely a much different take on the familiar alien invasion game theme.
It was crazy how the game started out with a doom-like game within the game. Playing as that pixel hero, Buck Thunder, was definitely weird, but a nice take on a tutorial mission. Early in the actual story I met the first Gatlien and gooey shooting commenced.
From there I visited alien worlds, became a High on Life bounty hunter and killed a lot of aliens. Gene, the lazy, ex-bounty hunter guided me along the way. There were plenty of unique characters and enemies along the way. Even the bounty hunter suit my character wore had a personality. I also visited Space Applebees, because of course that’s in the game.
High on Life’s Gatliens Equal Living Gat Aliens
As the first Gatlien, Kenny is a wise cracking alien. Some players complained how chatty he is, but I played after the patch that toned him down. I actually enjoyed some of the banter. It cracked me up when he’d scold me for trying to shoot innocent aliens or for running around to much.
At times, he’d Forth Wall break to criticize the ‘lazy’ High on Life game design. I enjoyed the humor directed at common gaming mechanics. His goopy shots were effective enough, but his “trick hole” glob shot was the best. It launched enemies in the air and shooting them midair juggles them.
There were mods to increase ammo, reload time, bounce shots and more. I installed plenty of the permanent mods, but didn’t mess with the variable ones like bounce shots.
The most sadistic of the Gatliens in High on Life and most unique since he’s a knife, not a gat. He was obsessed with cutting into, well, everyone. The psycho even wanted me to stab our helpful ex-bounty hunter, Gene, and I obliged. He was always the finisher of all alien bounties. A cut of their DNA is a requirement to claim bounties after all.
Besides stabbing, Knifey’s alternate action is sort of grappling hook to latch on and swing to greater heights. That was very useful to navigate the maps and escape enemies.
This frog-like Gatlien served as the shotgun of the group. His alternate fire mode included a vacuum attack. I loved using that to pull in annoying flying drones to blast them at close range. His last trick was to launch a disc either at enemies or to stick into special walls as platforms.
Mod options were similar to the other High on Life guns, but I especially enjoyed the ricochet mod for the disc. It was fun bouncing that around a room of enemies.
Another mouthy Gatlien full of insults, Sweezy is my second favorite gun in High on Life. The crystals it shot eventually explode like the needler from Halo. The secondary fire launched a larger crystal that detonated any smaller crystals it touched. It also fires through cover.
Sweezy also generates a time bubble to slow down anything in it’s path. It’s a great way to slow down fast enemies or solve moving puzzles. My favorite of the mods was the ability to remotely detonate the crystals fired whenever I wanted.
My favorite of the Gatliens, Creature, is a beast. It’s incredible weird. The tiny blue creatures birthed in its womb are launched towards enemies. Those tiny monsters attack enemies like gremlins. It’s a nice fire and forget type weapon in High on Life.
A special pink “baby” is available for launch too. That creepy thing can temporarily take control of enemies and turn them against everyone. I spent most of my cash upgrading this gun to bombard enemies with tons of the little creatures. Like a tiny army.
Those little buggers were even helpful to deactivate doors and shields after launching them through vents.
A weird cyborg mashup of a Gatlien, Lezduit is basically the Doom BFG equivalent in High on Life. It automatically targets enemy in the cone in front of it and destroys them all with lightning bolts. Naturally, there’s a long cooldown, but it says “Lezduit” when it’s ready to fire again. In fact, that’s all it says.
With Lezduit and Creature, I made short work of the final boss.
High on Life Fun Gameplay
There’s plenty of joy in the weird locations like Little Shitaly above. Alien worlds are weird by definition, but Squanch Games pushes that to 11. Most of the locations were available to revisit later with new Gatliens or suit upgrades in tow. Money and mods rewarded this type of exploration.
Suit upgrades are as fun and useful as the Gatlien upgrades. I loved the power slide upgrade and the jetpack. That’s right, there’s a High on Life jetpack. I spent plenty of money to upgrade that to soar above annoying ground pound enemies. For me, the movement was a a strength.
I liked the depth of the puzzle solving done with various Gatlien “trick hole” shots. Moving platforms with Kenny’s glob shot, stopping time with Sweezy’s bubble and more. The puzzles were not extra hard, but a nice bit of challenge on top of the gunplay. The gunplay was fun with some unique ideas in the Gatliens special abilities.
Justin Roiland Controversy
The power of Game Pass powered High on Life past mixed reviews from critics into a fan favorite. A sequel or DLC was all but guaranteed, but then Justin Roiland’s domestic abuse charges surfaced. Some of the jokes in the game hit a bit different with that new knowledge.
Although the guy is innocent until proven guilty, companies are lining up to drop him from their projects. I just hope for the developers sake, that Squanch Games can move past all this drama and focus on more fun games. Like a Ricky and Morty game in this same style.