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High on Life is actually one of the best shooters of 2022

It’s tempting to cancel high up in life like a comedy game powered by Justin Roiland where your opinion is based solely on whether you like his particular style of comedy or not. And while that’s largely accurate, it misses high up in life being one of the best and most creative shooters released in 2022.

Let’s dwell on that first point a bit more: high up in life it’s fundamentally a Justin Roiland game. Its story and gameplay are infused with his brand of off-color, absurd, and self-referential (anti)humor. Roiland gives your sentient weapon a voice, so he’s always there in your hand, providing continuous feedback. Depending on his tolerance, that’s a pretty high barrier to entry. (Tellingly, there’s a setting where you can turn off his incidental dialogue.)

But, right after that, there’s some seriously creative gameplay that scratches the first-person shooter itch in a year where shooters haven’t exactly stood out (with the exception of Metal: Hellsinger, which combined Doom-like mechanics with custom metal music to great effect, and hyper demonwhich was based on the agonizing and wonderful tension of devil daggers).

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Using High On Life's Knifey to climb onto a platform over a lake of mud.

Knifey acts as both a melee weapon and a grappling hook.
Image: Squanch Games via Polygon

much of high up in lifeThe creativity of derives from its transversal options. Pretty soon, you’ll pick up Knifey, a clever and homicidal knife. Knifey is your melee weapon, but it also doubles as a grappling hook, much like the best thing to happen to the Halo series, the grappleshot. Picking up Knifey allows you to ride zip lines and scale previously unscalable walls. Each of his weapons, aliens called Gatlians, has a similar secondary use.

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Your main weapon, Kenny, has a “Glob Shot” that fires from his “trick hole”. In combat, it acts like a grenade, but also allows you to break down certain walls to create new paths. Gus, who looks like a shotgun, fires Disc Shots that fire a giant Frisbee that bounces around the level to damage enemies. However, shoot certain walls at them and they will create platforms that you can climb on. The copyrighted version of the Needler from Halo, Sweezy, fires a time bubble that slows down time inside his shell, perfect for passing spinning fan blades.

Using High On Life's Gus to shoot a climbable puck on a wall next to a green waterfall.

Gus shoots discs that you can climb.
Image: Squanch Games via Polygon
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Add to that the Jetpack and Mag-Boots that allow you to scale metal walls and navigate each world and area of high up in life turns into a genuinely satisfying puzzle action shooter.

Regardless of how you feel about Justin Roiland’s humor, or how annoying you think his continual comments are, high up in life It’s a good game. It’s not perfect, mind you. We ran into glitches, clipping issues, and a game-breaking bug about eight hours later, something that doesn’t seem uncommon based on a quick search. Some of those bugs have already been fixed in a day one patch, with more patches to follow, as a Squanch Games representative told Polygon.

Then yes, high up in life it’s an imperfect game that really needs you to buy at Roiland’s rick and morty style of humor to fully embrace it. But if you can take it, you’re in for a genuinely creative shooter. (The fact that it’s on Xbox Game Pass for free makes it that much easier.)

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