Among the many interesting characters in the comedic sci-fi first-person shooter High On Life was Knifey, a sentient and psychotic knife who could be used to get around like the grappling hook from Halo Infinite or Horizon Forbidden West. During actual combat…well, we all know the cliché about bringing a knife to a gunfight. It’s probably why, despite the name, Knifey isn’t the main weapon you use in the first add-on for Life, High On Knife. But while Knife may not turn Life into a hack & slash action game, that doesn’t mean Knifey isn’t at the center of this game.
One note before we begin:
High On Life was made by Squanch Games, the studio founded by Rick & Morty co-creator and voice actor Justin Roiland, who also did the voice of Life‘s talking gun, Kenny. A month after Life was released for Xbox and PC, Roiland was arrested and charged with felony domestic battery and false imprisonment, which prompted other people to come forward with accusations about his behavior. This led Adult Swim to fire him from Rick & Morty, and him to resign from Squanch Games. And while the criminal charges were later dismissed, and Roiland has denied any wrongdoing, he has not been rehired by Adult Swim or Squanch Games, and remains largely unforgiven by the public at large.
That said, neither Roiland nor Kenny are in High On Knife.
Moving on: For those who didn’t play High On Life, you can read my full review of the Xbox / PC version here, and the PlayStation versions here, but the set-up is that aliens invade Earth after they realize that ground up humans are like cocaine meets heroin at crystal meth’s beach house. But since you’d rather not be a Schedule 1 narcotic, you pick up a gun and start shooting. The kicker being that all of the guns in Life are sentient, talkative, weird, and have multiple functions and unlimited ammo.
As for High On Knife,
it’s set two years after the end of High On Life, and finds that you’re still a bounty hunter who uses sentient weapons. Well, except Kenny. Kenny is gone. OH MY GOD, THEY KILLED KENNY!!
Instead, Gus, Sweezy, and Creature are now joined by Harper…who is basically Kenny except she’s voiced by Saturday Night Live‘s Sarah Sherman. You also gain a new gun called B.A.L.L., a semi-automatic pistol that shoots pinball balls that automatically return, and which you can then deflect at another target, with the process repeating until the ball explodes.
Though it helps that — because of the rather loose aiming of High On Life, and thus High On Knife — deflecting B.A.L.L.’s balls is rather easy; way easier than it would be in a more serious shooter like Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare III.
Of course, like his fellow guns, B.A.L.L. is also a problem solver. Like when you have to plug some natural steam vents to cause a water spout to become strong enough to propel you upwards.
B.A.L.L., and the rest of the gang, you set out to help Knifey when he gets a note about a package waiting for him, and realizes it may be his ticket home.
Now, as I said, High On Knife is not High On Life but with you using Knifey all the time. It’s still a first-person shooter.
But High On Knife does give Knifey more to do, including while you’re shooting people. Some enemies will shoot electrified nets at you, and you have to use Knifey to cut the nets in mid-flight or after you’ve been caught and are incapacitated.
There are also,
later on, ways in which Knifey helps you get around, but since I don’t want to be stabbed for spoiling things…
All of which, like in High On Life, makes High On Knife a solid sci-fi shooter, one where you take on all manner of aliens in interesting places, and kill them.
Unfortunately, like in Life, not everything in High On Knife works as well as the combat. For instance, there are times (more, in fact) when it’s sometimes hard to figure out what to do or where to go, and when you do, it doesn’t always make sense. Granted, you do sometimes get pointers from that weird Clippy-like guy, but even he’s not that helpful sometimes.
Knifey can also be used to remove some enemy’s shields, but given that they’re shooting at you while you try to do this, well, there’s that cliché again.
There’s also the movement you do with Knifey that I didn’t want to spoil. It’s not always fun thanks to a camera that isn’t built for it. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.
But that’s the thing:
You should go there. Well, assuming you enjoyed High On Life. B.A.L.L. is a very fun gun to use, and Knife gives you interesting scenarios in which to use it, and the same goes for the rest of the gun gang. Including Knifey. And hey, maybe next time we’ll use him to get High On Wife.