High on Life Hands-on Preview – Comedy is Key

During the Xbox Showcase back at Fake E3, High on Life was one of the few games that caught my attention and left me interested, wanting to see more. Last week, I got hands-on with High on Life at Gamescom and what I found was pretty much what I expected. While only a twenty-plus minute session, I can tell what Squanch Games (Trover Saves the Universe) are aiming for. The Rick & Morty link is clear but to be expected with the CEO Justin Rolland being a co-creator of the cartoon.

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If you watched opening night live (I didn't), you'll have seen a boss battle from the game's early stages. During my hands-on with High on Life, I could play through the mission leading up to this boss fight and then the boss itself. Starting in your house, you're greeted by your confused sister and an alien bounty hunter. The bounty hunter will then introduce you to a board where you'll find your future bounty missions. The first one sends you into the sewers of Blim, a busy, multicoloured, alien city. I don't know if you get to explore the city, but from the little I saw as I passed through heading to the sewers, I know I would like to.

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What little I saw was Cyberpunk 2077, combined with Outer Worlds and the most extravagant animé of colour. Billboards everywhere, odd and colourful aliens standing around and the ones I spoke to were willing to drop a little comedic line. To even get to the sewers, you have to pick which is the hottest between what are essentially red and blue penis men. I initially chose the red one but felt sorry for the blue one when he started sulking, changing my mind. The blue penis then let me go through his gate whenever I wanted.

The result was amusing enough, and here I got to the now-infamous part, which has a bit of Twitter coverage. When I first saw it, I didn't know how much attention it had garnered. I have to admit, I laughed. Yes, I tried to kill the kid. I was perplexed when my gun refused to shoot. I tried again; I got admonished. Finally, the gun would give in and kill the kid. I was as surprised as the gun; I thought it would simply loop, telling me off, but this is indeed a video game where you can kill kids.

It's all very self-aware and where High on Life revels. Even other little lines hit the spot, such as the little lines by the enemies you kill, some even commenting that you shot and killed their friend or actively talking about the only reason they're trying to kill you. Then you've got the running commentary by your gun and knife.

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High on Life also revels in its combat. It plays as you would imagine a game like this to play; fast-paced and fun. I got to try the pistol, which has an alternate fire mode that lets out a big slime grenade. This grenade will help you traverse the map and offer an alternate attack - and let you start some combos - against your enemies. You've got the knife, too, a hyper-violent bugger, which also duplicates as a grappling hook. I imagine you'll find a range of weapons throughout the game, and if each has an alternate fire like the ones found here, the variety should be fun.

The session I got to play ended with the same boss featured in the trailer; 9-Torg. This is right after watching 9-Torg torment the hell out of 8-Torg. They're all cloned ants, but 9-Torg is the worst of the lot. Is that a spoiler? I suppose yes and no, but it's a very early part of the game. What I like about this battle is how the multiple stages utilise all of the abilities you have at your disposal.

9-Torg was fun enough for a boss fight, and High on Life felt more than a bit of fun and was very much the game I expected. If it opens up, offers a little more variety, and keeps with the same level of humour - without overstaying its welcome on specific gags - then I can genuinely see this being one of my games of the year. We don't have to wait too long, with High on Life launching on the 13th of December for the PC and Xbox Consoles and coming to game pass.

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