Highwater Review – Global Warming Did This

It's Fintastic

Bilawal Bashir
Bilawal Bashir
7 Min Read
Image shows the Songs in Highwater
7 Good
Review Overview

Highwater, originally debuted as a mobile game, is finally making its way to consoles and PC. The premise is “The World Ended on a Sunny Day,” which is also the first song on the radio and accurately captures the essence of the game. Water levels are rising in this destitute world, and the rich are scurrying off to Mars, leaving the less fortunate to fend for themselves. This is another title from Demagog Studio that has catchy tunes and great art and in my review, I’ll see if Highwater is worth the sail.

Nikos My Bouy

Image shows the Highwater Review Nikos

Highwater introduces Nikos, the main protagonist, in the first scene. He is determined to sneak into the fortified city reserved for the elites and sneak a seat on the Mars-bound rocket. His mission is risky, but he is steadfast in leaving the doomed and flooded earth. The game moved quickly during the introduction, to my liking; it only took 5 minutes from the main screen to kill a bald guy.

Image shows the Highwater Review graphics

The second character is Nikos’ boat, which he calls his home. I traveled the post-apocalyptic world using the yellow boat called Argy (that’s what’s written on it), and it helped me carry a basketball to a bored kid, ferry my team to various destinations, and deliver some great tunes thanks to the radio.

Image shows the Companions in Highwater Review

Nikos meets several people along his journey to the rocket. Some stay for a little while, while others make recurring appearances throughout the story. There are several teammates, each with different personalities, motivations, and fighting abilities.

Shell We Fight?

Image shows the Highwater Review - Tutorial

Highwater is a standard turn-based game. Move the character, select an action, and end the turn. The enemies also take turns doing their actions, which include movement and attacks. The combat plays more like a puzzle than a straight-up numbers game, adding much-needed variety to the stick formula.

Image shows the Combat with the butcher

I smacked a beam propping open a container and trapped a hard-to-beat enemy inside, instantly winning the fight. The game constantly doles out new team members or equipment to keep things fresh. The fishing rod, for example, is excellent for pulling enemies into the sea or off roofs. 

Image shows the Fishing rod in Highwater Review

I loved using it to make short work of some enemies, so I started noticing ideal “pull spots” to place Nikos at. I also got to use the environment to my advantage in battles; stones, shields, falling trees, and supermarket carts can be used strategically in the game.

Image shows the Turn based combat

A burly character with extra hit points is great for stunning enemies, while an agile fighter can hit enemies all around her. Each teammate accompanying Nikos offers something unique in fights, keeping everything fresh throughout the short campaign. 

Image shows the Island in Highwater Review

Nikos and allies can equip two extra items offering various passive effects during combat. I just slotted the items and mostly forgot about them, but they can help tide the battle in your favor. The combat is more akin to Captain Valvet Meteor than Baldur’s Gate 3, but figuring out the “battlefield puzzle” is still satisfying.  

Going With The Float

Image shows the Highwater Screenshot 2024.03.14 -

Most of Highwater is about sailing around in a boat and exploring small islands. The graphics are minimalist, but the art is stunning at times. There is no combat on the sea, so riding the boat is a fairly relaxed experience. The controls are simple, and the boat is easy to handle. There isn’t much to the sailing here; press a button to accelerate and use directions to turn around.

Image shows the Songs in Highwater

I would’ve gotten bored with the rides if it weren’t for the radio. The songs are all performed by in-game characters, adding depth to the world. Some songs are a bit dramatic, but I loved listening to the music in Highwater. The music highlights my experience with this game and adds much character.

Image shows the Live band

Small events occasionally break up the somewhat mundane water travel. I got to witness a floating band play a song, a funeral, and even talk to a drunk grandpa keen on giving a “drink” to a kid. These events are few and far between to make the travel exciting.

It Shore Is A Ride

Image shows the Highwater Review dialogs

Highwater delivers a pleasant experience and a simple yet sufficient story to follow. The game is stunning at times, and the art design is top-notch. The graphics are highly stylized, and the same can be said about the character models. Apart from the RJ talking on the radio, there are no dialogs to listen to in the game. The character text bubbles do reasonably well in conveying the story.

Image shows a Parody book

The game delivers exposition and lore via newspapers and books. While newspapers tell a grim tale about class inequalities, corporate greed, and humanity’s downfall, the titles of the books are parodies of existing books. Several books had hilarious titles and premises, compelling me to dock at optional islands and seek them out.

Image shows a Wedding dance in Highwater Review

What other game lets you steal a sheep for a wedding gift? I can’t recall any. Upon seeing the gift, the bride immediately started twerking, which made me chuckle. Highwater could have used more world-building and random events, but it’s still an enjoyable sail.

What did you think of our review of Highwater? Share what you think about it in the comments below.

This review is based on the PC version of Highwater. The key was provided by Reverb Communications.

Image shows the Songs in Highwater
Review Overview
Good 7
Overall Rating 7
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A software engineer that loves videogames, comics, and anime. But will never love pineapple pizza NEVER!
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