A star rating of 4 out of 5.

You may have already heard that High on Life has been taking Xbox Game Pass by storm, with the latest title from Squanch Games becoming the biggest third-party title to launch on Microsoft's subscription service this year.


Coming to us from Justin Roiland, the co-creator and star Rick and Morty, High on Life imagines a universe where aliens are invading Earth with a view to using mankind as a drug. The thing standing in their way? That would be you, a regular person who becomes an interstellar bounty hunter and befriends a number of sentient guns over the course of the game.

The game plays out as quite an old-school shooter, with the player undertaking a series of bounties, picking off the key members of an otherworldly criminal cartel one mission at a time. The game is a breath of fresh air compared to the overwhelmingly massive open-world adventures that have become increasingly common over the last few years

Here at RadioTimes.com, we've happily devoured High on Life, and now we feel comfortable with sharing our full review. The first thing to say is that Rick and Morty fans will feel right at home here. From the off, the writing in High on Life hits that familiar comedic tone with note-perfect accuracy, with swear words and silly names in abundance.

Roiland has also lent his famous vocal chords to a couple of key characters, as well – so by the time you've finished the tutorial, you may well feel like you've had both Morty and Rick in your ears (even though these similar voices are attributed to totally new characters here).

As an added bonus, the High on Life writers clearly had fun with the first-person-shooter trappings of the game, poking fun at gaming cliches at every turn. Take the time to listen to what those stationary NPCs are saying, for example, and you'll often be rewarded with a laugh or two. It's safe to say that Rick and Morty fans will find plenty to enjoy here, although you might feel that some jokes drag on for a little too long.

Of course, the comedy factor is no surprise here, but how does the rest of the game fare? We're pleasantly surprised for the most part, with the gameplay reminding us somewhat of the brilliant sci-fi indie game Journey to the Savage Planet. The combat mechanics are deeper than you might've expected, with each weapon having multiple uses, which also factor into your exploration options.

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The first gun you get, for example, can fire regular bullets as well as a gloopy shot that opens new pathways and sends enemies flying. And the first melee weapon you get works as a grapple as well as a knife. Later weapons can suck enemies towards you, create new traversal platforms and — we're not making this up — fire out little babies that can go into vents and unlock new areas for you. This mix gives you plenty of options in combat, which does make you feel a little overpowered versus the fairly brainless AI opponents.

An added twist is that your weapons have a lot of personality. Literally. Your guns and your knife can talk (with the likes of JB Smoove providing their voices), and boy do they have a lot to say. The gag-rate is off the charts with these guys, to such a degree that some players might find it a little bit grating. We did spot an option in the menu to reduce the amount of chat, though. This writer, for what it's worth, hasn't been tempted to engage that option at all. It's fun hearing what your weaponry has to say, for a change!

The story seems fairly simple at first glance, although simple is a relative term when you're talking about a Roiland project. To use a parlance that Rick and Morty fans will understand, this feels like more of a 'classic adventure' as opposed to a 'canon-heavy' episode, with the balance being just right between big ideas and a fun, understandable plot. And if you can be bothered to go looking for it, there is some deeper lore to be found (as well as some very disturbing characters, plenty of collectables and several 'warp drives' that let you summon random locations like a cinema and a model village).

There's a whole universe of alien nonsense going on, of course, but your role in it is refreshingly uncomplicated – mainly, you'll be shooting gloop-covered alien foes to work your way to the next boss, with each of this boss levels having its own unique quirks. As you work through the bounties, you'll collect more guns, which will allow you to access new areas and collect more stuff. It's a fun gameplay loop to lose a few hours in, especially if you're a fan of Roiland's comedy oeuvre.

We also want to give a special shoutout to the audiovisual experience. Each place we've visited has been positively rippling with colour and character, and the musical score has been really atmospheric as well. You come for the jokes, but you stay for the richness of the world. We did see a couple of little glitches along the way, awkward moments where enemies are spawning in impossible locations, but overall this is a very fun ride.

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High on Life is out now for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S via Xbox Game Pass.

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