High On Life

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Squanch Games
Release Date: Dec. 13, 2022


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PC Review - 'High on Life' High on Knife DLC

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 2, 2023 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

High On Life is a hilarious first-person shooter where you go from a fresh high-school graduate to badass, planet-jumping bounty hunter in a few hours.

When High on Life came out late last year, it was met with some very mixed reviews. Some players liked the shooting and quasi-open-world nature of the worlds. Others were completely torn on the humor, so it was either love it or hate it. It did well enough on places like Xbox Game Pass that a continuation made sense, and that's what we have with the first and possibly only piece of DLC, High on Knife.

The story takes place two years after the events of the main game, with your character fitting in quite nicely in their role as a famous bounty hunter. After coming home from your latest assignment, you're told by your mentor and freeloading friend Gene that someone tried to send a package to Knifey, a knife that's just as sentient as the rest of your arsenal — but left a note to pick it up at the shipping warehouse. That warehouse is on Peroxis, a planet full of sand and salt surrounded by acidic water. Driven by the idea that whoever sent the package is trying to locate Knifey and return him to his home planet, you embark on the journey.

First of all, Justin Roiland's character Kenny has been written out of the game. It takes a while for the title to address this change, but when it does, Gene explains that you simply misplaced him on a mission. Replacing him is Harper, another pistol with the same abilities but with a different skin and gender and voice provided by Sarah Sherman from "Saturday Night Live." Second, this piece of DLC is purely stand-alone. You can access it at any time, and it doesn't take any information from the main campaign's save file. You also can't take any abilities back and forth between the DLC and main campaign, so it feels like a tiny sequel to the main game rather than a new epilogue.

The idea that this content is tiny compared to the main game comes through when you look at some of the campaign elements. There's only one planet to visit, and it's split into three areas. There's also only one boss in the game, and while there are a few little secrets and a few side activities to uncover, it feels perfunctory, since you get nothing out of it. There are collectible cards to acquire and packages to break open, but there's no upgrade system, and money is meaningless. If you're a completionist, you'll be tempted to get and do everything, but there's no real incentive for anyone else to go beyond the main path.

The combat follows the same monster closet pattern of the base game, with a few waves entering a battle zone before they let you move on to the next area, but the game adds a few new tools. Early on, you get a pinball gun that lets you fire shots with a giant pinball. Your alternate fire mode plays down a bunch of bumpers that the pinball can bounce from while always homing in on enemies. Consecutive shots and charged shots make the pinball explode on impact at the cost of a longer reload. You can also use the pinball gun as a means of traversal and puzzle-solving as you plug holes to open doors or create geysers to propel yourself into the air. The other new tool is an upgrade to Knifey that you'll find at the midway point. Your killing ability is still the same, but you can use Knifey to ride up slime walls instead of depending on your jump jets.

Combat was a saving grace to the original game, but it doesn't feel the same in the High on Knife DLC. A big part of this is the fact that you're never motivated to switch guns unless you need their specific power to create platforms or open passageways. Those guns also seem useless against most enemies, so even though your original arsenal has received upgraded variations, there's no reason to use them when the pinball gun can take care of everything. As such, the excitement experienced in a firefight isn't present anymore, especially since there are only one or two new enemies to fight.

With the combat feeling weaker, it falls on the humor to save the DLC, and when compared to the base game, the jokes are subject to personal taste. The style remains the same, as you'll find that every character loves to ramble on endlessly. The amount of fourth-wall-breaking is minimal, and so is the cursing, but the number of contemporary references has exploded by comparison. Everything from Elden Ring to Sonic the hedgehog to Barbie and Venmo get called out in a way that rarely fits the context — and seems like it's being called out for the sake of it. It may be one thing to see TVs showing clips from movies like "Blood Harvest" and "Spookies," but having a bar called Cheeks as a parody to the TV show "Cheers" while having the theme song call it out as a direct reference to "Cheers" demonstrates that the jokes love to overexplain and kill the humor. You already know something is wrong when even jokes about CEOs and the shipping company being an Amazon parody fall flat and feel tired.

Except for one unexpected scene between a parasite and one of your guns, the humor is exhausting. Part of that is because there's nothing to balance this out. The main game did this by creating somewhat dramatic moments between the weapons as well as using a larger cast to lean on for some jokes and other character growth scenes. By comparison, the guns barely speak, and all of Knifey's rantings are met with the unintelligible chatter of the pinball gun. The other new side characters exist to deliver more bad jokes, so the only saving grace is that the minicampaign takes less than four hours to complete if you're taking your time.

You really, really have to like the kind of humor in High on Knife to enjoy the DLC. You're not going to get any character from the new gun, and Knifey's psycho nature doesn't take long to become grating when compared to the rest of your living loadout. The combat is less enjoyable than before, since the pinball gun is the only weapon you can use to deal any real damage, and the act of collecting everything in the game feels more meaningless since you don't get anything from it. If you're into the rambling nature of the jokes with a sense of humor that's often crude or referential with no real payoff, then you might want to check this out, but anyone who's hoping for good gameplay to balance the humor will be disappointed.

Score: 5.5/10

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