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High on Life hands-on 2022 preview – death awaits us all

High on Life

We got to do a High on Life hands-on preview at PAX West 2022. When someone hears the phrase high on life, what do they think of; what do you think of?

Most will commonly think of someone living life happily due to what is going on in their personal life; these people are described as happy and content with life.

The other thought process is someone getting through life stoned doing what they can to make it through. Now, a new thought will come to mind when you hear the words high on life. That new meaning is Justin Roiland and Squanch Games’ new game High on Life

The Setting

At PAX West 2022, I met with Justin Roiland and Squanch Games to preview their upcoming game High on Life. The PAX West demo was the same demo shown at Gamescom the previous week. This time, however, we had the opportunity to get our hands on the game and feel what it is like to live in a dystopian world where humans are used as drugs by aliens. 

During our meeting, I got to experience High on Life in a manner unlike any other. For the meeting, I met Squanch Games at the W Seattle. The meeting took place on the 25th floor and as we sat there, we could feel the building swaying with each heavy breeze.

As someone who is afraid of heights, this made playing the demo an experience unlike any other. Focusing on the game while trying to override a fear of falling in real life made each jump even more suspenseful. 

High on Life City

Gameplay

At the start of the game, the player is introduced to the basics of the game and universe. Weapons are not just objects but living, thinking beings. Tasked with their first mission, the player sets out to make a name for themselves as a bounty hunter.

The first mission is without a doubt one that will not only show the player the ropes but introduce them to a variety of the game’s mechanics.  Yes, High on Life is a shooter, but the game appears to have a focus on choices.

Within the first 10 minutes of the game, the player is introduced to the game’s morality system. Each decision that the player makes will have a lasting impact in the game. The first choice comes once outside the house, the player can choose to explore the area or follow the mission’s path. For sake of time, I chose to follow the mission’s path leading us to the gate of the slums. 

This gate is guarded by two brothers, one red and one blue. The player can choose to compliment one of the two gatekeeping aliens. After making your first choice, the two aliens ask if you want to change your mind. Rather than changing it, I stuck to my guns and complimented the red alien. The second major choice was choosing to shoot a kid or not.

In the end, any guilt you feel for choosing to eliminate the shit talker is quickly dispensed after a conversation with the slum’s residents and his mother. From our short time with the demo, it is uncertain whether or not the decision you make will be impactful or have lasting consequences.

How Did it Feel?

Rather than giving you all a play-by-play of the gameplay, let’s focus on how the game felt; if you want to see the actual gameplay, look at the later Gamescom 25 min preview. High on Life allows the player to step into a vibrant world that they would not see in a typical game. Visually the art style feels like a nice blend of Bulletstorm and Sunset Overdrive.

Gameplay-wise, High on Life outshines some of the most beloved first-person shooters. Who doesn’t love the idea of killing aliens while swinging around the map and hearing jokes from their talking weapons?

The dialog in the game takes a more comedic approach rather than a serious nature. High on Life looks to push the envelope while still giving players what they crave. Combat at times can be chaotic but the game doesn’t leave you ill-equipped. The boss fight shows that a shooter’s boss can be challenging and fun without being overpowered.

High on Life applies its platforming elements with shooting mechanics to make the boss fight feel like a battle for survival rather than a beginner’s boss battle. Throwing the player into the deep end of the bounty hunting life rather than having their hand being held. If the rest of the game is anything to go by, players are in for a wild ride.

As for the comedy elements, Squanch Games looks to provide their players with a laugh without targetting anyone or anything specifically. In my conversation with Justin Roiland, he expressed that the game’s comedic envelope will push the envelope but not spread hate. High on Life looks to make players laugh while getting to kill a variety of aliens.

High on Life Takeaways

Our High on Life preview was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. The comedic elements I got to experience gave me a good laugh while helping to eliminate any fear. The gameplay mechanics were smooth and well-balanced with the shooter aspects feeling familiar.

The swinging mechanics using Knifey do take a bit to get used to but after dying to the first boss, you start to get an understanding of the power you wield; it will be interesting to see what new paths can be found by swinging around the world. Although I’ve seen some of the other guns in the trailers, I have yet to experience their personalities and mechanics.

Once enveloped in the story, I did not want to put High on Life down. High on Life is set to release on December 13th, 2022; it will be available on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. Look for our interview with Justin Roiland about Squanch Games, Rick and Morty, High on Life, and more later this week.

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About

Hardcore gaming enthusiast, cosplayer, streamer, Tall Anime lover (6ft 9), and a die-hard competitor. I have been a Pop-Culture Journalist since 2011 specializing in shooters, Pokemon, and RPGs. A former writer for Gamersbliss.com, VGGaming HQ, TheNerdStash, and The Nerdy Con Artist. One day, I hope to travel the world while working in the video game industry or as a professional gamer. Do you want to join in on a game or see what I am up to? Come follow/message me at Killerkdemons. Open to all freelance opportunities.