It’s tempting to undo Raised on life as a comedy game powered by Justin Roiland where your opinion about it is based solely on whether or not his particular brand of comedy lands with you. And while this is largely accurate, it glosses over Raised on life being one of the best and most creative shooters released in 2022.
Let’s dwell a bit on this first point: Raised on life is basically a Justin Roiland game. Its story and gameplay are imbued with its brand of quirky, absurd and self-referential (anti)humor. Roiland voices your sentient weapon, so he’s always there in your hand, providing running commentary. Depending on your tolerance, that’s a pretty high barrier to entry. (That is, there is a setting where you can turn off its prop dialogue.)
But, right after that, there’s a really creative game that scratches that first-person shooter itch in a year where shooters haven’t really stood out (except for Metal: Hellsinger, which mixed Doom-like mechanics with bespoke metal music to great effect, and hyper demonwhich relied on the agonizing and wonderful tension of Devil Daggers).
A lot of Raised on lifeCreativity stems from its course options. Early on, you’ll pick up Knifey, a homicidal and sentient knife. Knifey is your melee weapon, but it also doubles as a grappling hook – much like the greatest thing to ever happen to the Halo series, the grappling hook. Picking up Knifey lets you zip through ziplines and scale previously unscalable walls. Each of your guns – aliens called Gatlians – have a similar secondary use.
Your main weapon, Kenny, has a “Glob Shot” that he fires from his “trick hole”. In combat, this acts like a grenade, but it also allows you to break down certain walls to create new paths. Shotgun-like Gus fires disc shots that shoot a giant frisbee that ricochets around the level to damage enemies. Shoot them at some walls, though, and they’ll create platforms for you to climb. Halo’s Needler’s copyrighted version, Sweezy, fires a time bubble that slows time inside its shell – perfect for outpacing spinning fan blades.
Add to that the Jetpack and Mag-Boots that allow you to scale metal walls and navigate all the worlds and areas of Raised on life becomes a truly satisfying action-puzzler shooter.
No matter what you think of Justin Roiland’s humor, or how boring you think his running commentary is, Raised on life is a good game. It’s not perfect, beware. We encountered glitches, clipping issues and a game-breaking bug about eight hours later – something that doesn’t seem uncommon based on a quick search. Some of these bugs have already been fixed in a day one patch, with more fixes to follow, as a representative from Squanch Games told Polygon.
Then yes, Raised on life is a flawed game that really needs you to buy in Roiland rick and morty style of humor to fully embrace it. But if you can handle it, you’re in for a truly creative shooter. (The fact that it’s on Xbox Game Pass for free makes that much easier.)