12 Things To Know Before Trying The Game Pass Hit

12 Things To Know Before Trying The Game Pass Hit

Gif: Squanch Games / Kotaku

If you’re into Rick and Morty-style humor and enjoy a good first-person shooter with some unique guns, High on Life is a damn good time. While High on Life is a fairly easy game to fire up and jump into—made even easier by the fact that it’s on Game Pass right now—there are a few things to keep in mind while romping around through space, blasting evil alien cartel members to dust.

The latest from studio Squanch Games, High on Life is available now on Xbox One, Xbox X and S, and PC. With the mind and voice of Justin Roiland fully on display, High on Life contains much of what many love (or hate) about shows like Rick and Morty. Despite a few glaring bugs and some jokes that don’t know when to stop, it’s a fun shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a great change of pace for the genre.

Pick your poison: This is a good time while under the influence

Yes, yes, I know. It’s the game everyone jokes about getting stoned before playing, but honestly, it’s pretty good advice.

High on Life contains a certain brand of humor that comes across well while you’re in an altered state of consciousness. More than that, it’s a visual and auditory treat only heightened by substances that make colors and sounds pop. High on Life is very vibrant, with many great textures, making it splendid for moments where you just want to melt into a colorful, bouncy, wise-cracking trip.

The humor may not be for everyone, but if you love getting blasted and having a fun time with a video game, there are few games that hit this spot right now quite like High on Life.

Turn the music up!

This soundtrack kicks ass. There’s some twisted, fucked up synth shit that is just a damn joy to listen to. Electronic musician Tobacco produced the music for High on Life, and it fits the mood and feel of the game so freaking well.

The default music volume setting, however, is way too low. I cranked it up all the way during my playthrough and it was a delight for the ears the whole way through, though you might find you’ll want to flip the subtitles on if you do. If you’re not into the humor or find the gameplay to be too generic, do yourself a favor and check out the soundtrack at least. It really is great.

The game needs a content warning

It’s 2023, and it’s about time we expect more from devs when it comes to giving us a heads up about the content in their games. High on Life got a ton of laughs out of me, while other jokes felt rather tasteless. I wish the game would’ve given a bit of a heads up about certain topics.

High on Life contains a good chunk of drug and substance abuse references. It also makes some jokes about self-harm. The very absurd and fictional plot also talks liberally about the enslavement of various alien species.

Many who are familiar with Rick and Morty likely knew what to expect going into High on Life, but with an informative content warning (which, hey, wouldn’t that be a cool standard for Game Pass games or something?), it could help set the table so you could be in the mood for weapons that beg you to turn them on yourself.

Gif: Squanch Games / Kotaku

Keep an eye out for Knifey’s zipline and grapple prompt

I’m not sure how a game that makes as many video game jokes as High on Life delivered a 16-hour campaign where you zip around on rails without making a single BioShock Infinite joke (and if it did, I certainly missed it). There are an awful amount of opportunities for you to zip around the map like you’re out to save some weird girl haunted by her strange pet bird thing.

That said, it can be a little tricky to spot when and where you can do this. The HUD is helpful in indicating where a rail or climbable spot is, but it can be deceptive. While a circular icon will hover over a usable zip line, you can’t actually grab on until you see the actual button prompt (E on keyboard, LB on controller) in the circle.

Learning to spot this indicator will help you zoom around maps even faster.

Always be swappin’
Gif: Squanch Games / Kotaku

Screw reloading, cycle your weapons

Once I had all four main Gatlians, High on Life began to feel a lot like the Resistance shooters on PS3. If you liked those games, at least in concept, then you know the value of juggling weapons constantly. As I mentioned in my guide for beating Nipulon, cycling your weapons when they’re out of ammo is a better use of your time than reloading them, especially since all the Gatlians reload themselves while you have another one equipped.

Read More: Let’s Kill High On Life’s Most Annoying Boss

I like to start each round of combat by aiming a Gatlian’s trickhole shot (this also gives you a quick window of bullet time to line up your aim), firing it off, and then emptying its magazine into enemies before swapping to the next gun and repeating the same process. Master this and you’ll almost never stop outputting damage. It’s a lot of fun.

If you’re stoned out of your mind, consider Story Mode. But Normal and Hunter aren’t too much of a challenge

As I said above, High on Life is just a good game to tune in and zone out too. The story is silly and not really that serious beyond a handful of delicate topics; and the gameplay has more depth than you’d assume. But the best part is that it prioritizes fun in a way that shooters sometimes forget to.

It can be a pretty passive shooter if you want it to be. If you’re just looking for a chill time with some goofy aliens who make you laugh, flip it on story mode.

But for those of us who like a bit of a challenge in a first-person shooter, you probably should just jump to the hardest difficulty. I almost finished my first full playthrough on this, but the Skrendel Bros. proved a difficulty spike I couldn’t get along with—at least in the state my poor brain was in. As a result, I played the remainder of the campaign after that fight in Normal mode.

You can hit Gus’ disc to keep it moving

J.B. Smoove’s character, Gus, is your shotgun and disc launcher. That disc will ricochet around the room, causing a bad time for anyone in its way. But blink and you’ll miss the melee prompt on it when it moves near you.

Keep an eye out for the button prompt to smack the disc with Knifey to get more use out of Gus’ trickhole shot.

Zip around like it’s Halo 5, minus fighting the same boss three damn times.
Gif: Squanch Games / Kotaku

At its height, High on Life is like a Ratchet and Clank and Halo 5 space brownie

That last mention may make you close this tab. Don’t! One of the coolest aspects of High on Life is the movement abilities plus the versatile guns. With the ability to jet pack and hover in the air, it reminds me of Halo 5’s advanced but underpraised movement techniques. The versatile weapons, as mentioned, remind me of Insomniac’s Resistance or Ratchet and Clank. Maybe there’s a dash of Bulletstorm somewhere in there, too.

At the higher difficulties, you’re going to want to make the most out of that movement. Prepare to dash liberally; and once you can zoom around and hover with the jet pack, you’ll find it’s essential for staying alive.

Sadly, by the time the whole ensemble comes together, the game starts to wind down its campaign. While it lasts, though, it’s a ton of fun. So if you like experimental shooters, definitely give this one a spin.

Don’t miss the upgrades in the pawn shop

I mean, I can’t imagine why you’d have a hard time spotting tiny details in a game like this, but you should keep an eye out for the Gatlian upgrades and mods you can get at the pawn shop in Blim City.

A pawn shop in High On Life sells suit and gun upgrades.

It took nearly the entire game for me to realize you could buy these…don’t be like me.
Screenshot: Squanch Games / Kotaku

Each of the rectangular cardboard boxes behind the shelves have unique upgrades that enhance the abilities of your guns, giving them larger magazines or augmenting their trickhole shots as a few examples.

There are also some upgrades for your bounty hunter suit, including one that lets you zoom around when sliding like you’re playing Vanquish. How can you not use this?

Don’t forget to go back and explore previous areas

High on Life is a bit of a metroidvania kinda jam. Early on, you’ll spot items and locations that you can’t get to quite yet. As you progress through the story, you’ll unlock new movement abilities that’ll let you explore a bit more. Keep an eye out for this stuff and don’t forget to go back!

Learn to follow the waypoints

Given the altered state you may or may not be in while playing High on Life, you might be prone to getting lost. By hitting the ping button, you can highlight a waypoint. If you’re lost in a blur of colors for whatever reason, the waypoint will guide you to where you need to go, but it can be a easy to miss.

High on Life’s waypoints move through different “checkpoints.” Once you follow it to a certain point, you’ll see it turn into a check before moving to highlight an area further along. If you’re lost in any of the game’s trippy environments, just follow those markers until it begins to make more sense.

Listen to all the dialogue and take in all of the comedy

High on Life is a comedy game, one where taking in the ambience of absurdity is as much the point as firing silly, talking guns. Don’t rush through the game, and take opportunities to observe the weird and wacky things around you.

Like an RPG where you should probably talk to every NPC you see, you should take the time to listen to all the humor Squanch Games packed in here. Characters will say some wild things, and you’ll participate in some genuinely funny and uncertain moments that are sometimes as surprising as they are humorous.

Some folks out there are even beginning to discover that the various dialogue options you get in the game do lead to some different outcomes for NPCs. So don’t rush. Immerse yourself in the absurdity of this game.

Who knows? You might even find it a little cathartic given how absurd our world is anyway.

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