Highwater Review – Waterworld

Image Credit: Rogue Games, Inc.

Have you ever wanted a Waterworld video game? Highwater has that covered.

Demagog Studio has created an exciting world full of mystery with their narrative-driven adventure and strategy hybrid. The world has flooded, and a group of eccentric friends want to make it into a safe haven that will send people to Mars.

Despite its short length of just under five hours, Highwater is an enjoyable and beautiful game.

With a large focus on the game’s story, Demagog focuses on a compelling plot. 

Climate change has ravaged the world with floods. Thankfully, Nikos has a plan to make his way to the rocket that is headed for Mars. Everywhere is ravaged by war, except the fortified Alphaville, where the rich are starting to hoard supplies needed to survive.

Highwater Lets You Set Sail

Nikos rides his boat around, picking up friends and anyone he knows who wants to escape on the rocket. Your party is cable to travel from land mass to land mass, gathering supplies and using connections to get into Alphaville.

Naturally, it will require battling with Alphavillians, stealing their supplies, or even worse, having Insurgents trying to steal from you. Will the crew sink or swim? That is up to the player and how badly they want to survive.

As expected, reaching the rocket isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. You are leaving behind a lot of people you care about. They chose not to come, and there were also way too many people to make the trek. For such a brightly colored game, there is a lot of darkness in the world. You’ll see some bodies hanging from the road signs and plenty of dead bodies lying around. 

Image Credit: Rogue Games, Inc.

That’s where the turn-based grid combat comes into play, and it seems basic at first. The more you play, though, the more it opens up. Using items in the levels and the environment turns impossible odds in your favor. Outnumbered? Push over trees, shelves, and structures to kill or cause heavy damage to enemies. Resourceful players will discover they can find cans to throw, carts to push, or flaming barrels to throw.

You can find new equipment for characters that can completely change how your character attacks. Sometimes, the gang gets split up, and you fight two different battles. Strategy will reign supreme as you are always outnumbered. For example, you can use a fishing rod or harpoon gun to pull enemies into pits.

One neat example of the game’s strategy involves how a character can earn another attack on a kill. You could chip away at all the enemy’s health bars and send that character in to repeatedly kill all the enemies in one turn. There are a lot of challenging fights that will take more brains than brawn.

Highwater Is A Beautiful Game With Dark Themes

The game has a simple, cel-shaded look, but it is beautiful. Highwater’s bright environments really contrast the story’s darkness with what is happening in the world. Each character also looks unique, and so do the locations.

One of my favorite characters I found was a Pigman in a lab. He was made from all the experiments the scientist had done. He had a hospital gown that was one size too small, so his whole backside was hanging out while he helped me kick butt. The animations are clean and look superb.

Traveling the world on your boat is sublime, and you find beautiful landmarks to take pictures of. The journey is accompanied by a talk radio host, the only voice-acted role in the game. He talks about the events going on in the world and ways to survive. Then, the radio host plays indie music, and all the music selections are great. 

Image Credit: Rogue Games, Inc.

I played the whole game on my Steam Deck and ran into a tiny glitch. A character got stuck and wouldn’t move, so I had to go into the pause menu to restart the battle. The developers must’ve made the restart the battle option for just this reason. No frame drops or crashes happened to me during my playthrough. There is not much more I can say about the game and its Steam Deck performance other than it works well.

Wrapping Up

I don’t have any complaints, which is rare for me. The game does everything well and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The soundtrack and graphics make an ugly world beautiful.

If you enjoy isometric RPGs, strategic grid battle systems, or indie adventure games, add Highwater to your must-play list. Highwater has minimal bugs, and the game works well with handhelds. It may be on the shorter end of the spectrum for playtime, but it’s well worth the cost of admission. Sometimes, getting a game that doesn’t take 30+ hours to complete is a blessing.

In a year packed with AAA titles, don’t sleep on Highwater. Eccentric characters, a well-paced story, and very strategic battles make this game stand out in the year of giants. 

Highwater Review – Waterworld
Highwater is a beautiful game that incorporates a haunting story alongside excellent strategic combat. It stands out amongst a sea of AAA releases as an excellent change of pace.
Highly strategic battles
Good Story
Great Music
Shorter game that doesn't waste your time
Boat controls are stiff

Written by Mikey Yaden

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *