DLC Review – High on Life: High on Knife
High on Life from Squanch Games was one of the funniest and most surprising games I played last year. As an avid fan of Rick & Morty, High on Life‘s fast-paced, raunchy humor had me in stitches. That’s not even taking into account the delightful gift of being able to watch several full-length feature films within the game, such as Tammy and the T-Rex. It was a game that surprised me, in all the best ways. Surely the DLC to the base game, High on Life: High on Knife, had to be just as weird and humorous, right?
High on Knife centers around Knifey (a talking knife from the base game), who asks for your help in retrieving his missed package. You venture to Salt Lick City, a dry, salt-covered desert, that’s inhabited by a race of slug-like creatures. Yeah, that goes about as well as you might expect. The setting and its residents boast the same silly and bizarre tone as the base game. However, around the half-way point you’ll visit a giant shipping warehouse, which changes the feel of the game dramatically from anything we’ve experienced so far. Without getting into spoilers, I’ll just say that the direction it takes is wildly different than most of the rest of the game.
Before getting too far into this review, I have to address the elephant in the room. No, Justin Roiland is not in High on Knife. After allegations against him surfaced right after the initial launch of High on Life, he resigned from his position as CEO of Squantch Games, and as of the time of writing this review, there are no plans to hire him back on. That being said, this obviously means that Kenny, a talking gun who was your main in High on Life, is no longer a part of the game. There’s a throw away line from Gene about what happened to him in between the two year time skip, but other than that, he’s just simply absent.
And boy, is that absence felt. Roiland’s humor might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is for those of us who enjoy his other works, like Rick & Morty and Solar Opposites. Basically, anyone who played High on Life for any extended length of time and enjoyed it, was already a fan of Roiland’s comedic style. The frenetic, anxious energy that came from Roiland’s portrayal of Kenny, is completely missing from High on Knife.
Instead of Kenny, we have a new gun, Harper, who essentially performs the same way as Kenny, and is now your main companion. Unfortunately, even though Harper still functions in the same way as Kenny, she’s almost completely devoid of humor. By that, I don’t mean that she makes jokes that don’t land, I mean that Harper is silent throughout most of your time with her. Occasionally, she’ll shout out an enthusiastic, congratulatory sentiment, or an observation during an important character interaction, but aside from that she rarely says a word. Obviously, this is a stark contrast to Kenny’s constant worrying and quips. This also takes away from the humor in other areas, as many of the prolonged awkward interactions with other aliens were made funnier by Kenny’s discomfort and verbal outpourings.
As far as the gameplay, it’s mostly the same as before. Harper gets the job done, and you’ll still have Knifey and some of the other Gatlians from the base game, such as Gus, Sweezy, and Creature. While it’s nice to be reunited with some familiar faces, there’s no making up for the gun that’s missing: Kenny. There is a new gun called B.A.L.L., that… shoots balls, but it doesn’t interact with you much either. Platforming is still pretty fun, thanks to your jetpack and the grappling hook abilities that Knifey provides.
I was really looking forward to High on Knife, but it doesn’t hold up to the hilarious craziness of the base game. Roiland’s absence is too significant to ignore. Without the over-the-top, anxious, ridiculous banter, it doesn’t even feel like the same game. I appreciate the writers trying to take the game in a new direction, but this entry just feels a bit soulless. Add in the fact that High on Knife costs $14.99 for a less than two hour experience, and it’s simply not an adventure worth taking.
Final Verdict: 5.0
High on Life: High on Knife is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X.
A copy of High on Life: High on Knife was provided by the publisher.