Highwater review: “Water you gonna do with all this flooding?”
In terms of post-apocalyptic scenarios, a flooded world hasn’t been explored nearly as much as others. However, it serves as the backdrop to Highwater by Demagog Studio. This is a 3D RPG adventure about exploring a world that is mostly water. You’ll alternate between driving around in a boat to exploring the bits of land that remain. You’ll have to gather as many items, weapons, and information, as you can while preparing for the numerous battles ahead. Luckily, you won’t always be alone in your journey which means you can strategise how to make it through each situation and challenge.
What’s happening in Highwater?
One reason the flooded scenario isn’t used much is simply that the reason for it is always the same: Climate change. In Highwater, it’s the same deal and people are coping as best as they can. You play as Nikos, a teenager scavenging on his own while being part of a splinter community known as Hightower. For the longest time, the smaller communities relied on the resources and funding from the wealthy elites of Alphaville. Unfortunately, things have gotten worse, with those from Alphaville seeking to abandon Earth and travel to Mars. Resolving to seek a better life, Nikos will rely on his friends and your guidance to sneak into Alphaville and secure a place on the rocket.
Wet and wild in Highwater
Typically, the apocalypse is a gloomy and serious affair which can make it challenging as a fun idea to explore. With Highwater, there’s a lot to enjoy about the game. The main thing is the overall simplicity and tranquillity. Despite the seriousness of the events between the people and the global situation, the gameplay is smooth and calming. When you’re out on your boat, you’re listening to nice music and natural commentary to draw you into the world. When you’re on land, you travel at a relaxed pace, even when conflict appears imminent. It’s a mix of chill exploration with exciting combat to break it up.
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Then there’s the combat itself. It’s the other main focus of the game and does its job of feeling risky while also being strategic. Whether you’re by yourself or in a team, each move you make can spell life or death for one of your party members. Each character does a good job of standing on their own, and more than just visually. It’s not as complex as other party-based RPG systems, but it’s enough for you to make your own strategies based on each member’s abilities, the weapons you find, and the boosters you can give them.
Highwater soaks you
It can’t be overlooked that the apocalypse is a downer and sometimes gameplay adds more issues to it. With Highwater, the problems are mostly technical, which can be difficult to overlook. The most notable is the performance requirements. If you don’t have a powerful phone, then the game is going to lag, forcing you to put it in “Performance Mode”. This can fix how it runs at the cost of making things blurry and possibly straining the eyes.
Then there’s the emptiness. It’s normal for an apocalypse to make the world feel like there’s nothing in it, but this is a game after all. You can visit a lot of optional islands on your way to the main mission, but a fair few will waste your time. As you dock, enemies might be waiting for you to brawl. But, aside from the thrill of combat, you’re not guaranteed to find a reward on the island, and battles typically don’t reward you with anything, not even EXP.
Highwater is a 3D post-apocalyptic adventure RPG about exploring a flooded world with the intent to escape it. It combines relaxing exploration with challenging combat and an interesting story to get you invested. As you try to enjoy it, you’ll have to overlook some of the technical problems and waste time feeding your curiosity. Even so, it’ll feel refreshing to take a dip in some high water.