High on Life Impressions: A Very Bad Trip

If a group of 12-year-old boys who only watched South Park got together to make a Halo-Esque shooter I imagine it would end up a whole like High on Life. There’s a reason that what I’m writing is just my impressions and not a full review. That’s because this game is so bad that I did not finish it before uninstalling it from my Xbox forever. Life is short and I spent enough time with High on Life to know that I don’t want to waste any more of my precious time on this earth to play any more of it ever again. Its writing is unfunny and irritating while its gameplay is unsatisfying and only works to remind you of better games.
For a comedy game High on Life is bereft of jokes. I don’t mean that like I just didn’t find the jokes funny, I mean there are almost no jokes. In the place of jokes or witty dialogue is rambling. You’ll find no setups or punchlines here instead you will only find rambling. Characters ramble about things happening, they ramble about random topics, and they just ramble the way 12-year-old boys ramble. Every dialogue exchange is a stream-of-consciousness ramble filled with swear words. That’s it, no jokes, just rambling. It’s not funny, it’s annoying. It’s made all the more frustrating by the fact that there are good joke setups present in the game but instead of following through with a punchline, the game just presents a long ramble telling you why this is supposed to be funny. The number 1 rule of comedy is to never tell the audience you’re funny because when you’re doing that you aren’t being funny. All High on Life does is tell you it’s funny.
Bad writing in a video game can be forgiven if the gameplay is fun and the writing in High on Life can’t be forgiven. As a shooter, it fails at the two most important fundamentals. The guns are not fun to shoot and the enemies are not fun to kill. There’s a looseness to the shooting that prevents it from being truly satisfying. It doesn’t help that the combat encounters are designed in a way reminiscent of Halo. There are even some enemies that run away exactly like the Grunts. All this accomplishes is to remind you of how great Halo is and how much worse this is by comparison.
Combat takes place in fairly open spaces that invite a lot of movement. There are ledges to grapple to and ziplines to get around as well as a dodge button. You don’t need to do any of that though because the enemy A.I. is incredibly stupid. Most of the time they will either stand behind cover and miss most of their shots or funnel themselves toward your line of fire while missing most of their shots. Their strategy is to get killed easily and that combined with the fact that 90% of enemies you kill drop shield pickups means you never feel like you are ever in danger. This makes it so that you don’t feel anything while playing. You don’t feel like a badass, you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything. You feel empty.
There are also platforming sections in the levels and they are just as mediocre as the shooting. Jumping feels very stiff and you never feel fully in control while you’re in the air. This makes the platforming imprecise and frustrating. You’ll do all the game allows you to do to get across a gap and will end up landing just on the edge and falling. At first, you’ll think you did something wrong but after a few more times of this happening, you’ll realize it’s because you have almost no control once you’ve leaped. It’s up to the game at that point and the game isn’t good at platforming.
This isn’t a review so I’m not going to give the game an official rating though if I was it would be a very low one. All this game did was irritate me while simultaneously reminding me of better games I could be playing instead. There are more video games in the world than anyone has time to play, there are an exuberant amount of good shooters to play, and there are too many better options to play than something this fundamentally mediocre. It feels like a fake game you would see someone playing in a bad Adam Sandler movie from the mid-2000s. There are fake games inside other games that are better than this. It plays like someone who didn’t understand the fundamentals of what makes a Halo or a Doom good tried to make a game that played like Halo and Doom. If you want to get high on life, avoid High on Life and do something worthwhile instead.

Published by Matt Fresh

30% Water, 70% James Bond movies. Matt is a writer, gamer, film enthusiast & silly person. The winner of various fictitious awards, he's fluent in English & pop culture references.

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