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Highwater Review – Another Great Game from Demagog Studio

Highwater is an adventure game with turn-based strategy combat, developed by Demagog Studio and published by Rogue Games Inc. It originally released as a Netflix game in 2023 and has now released on PC and consoles on March 14, 2024. This is a prequel to Golf Club: Wasteland and The Cub and utilises the same moody aesthetic from those games but moves from the 2D sidescrolling feel to a more immersive 3D setting as we cruise around the waters of a flooded post-apocalyptic world.

Earth is submerged, and humanity clings to survival in a mix of melancholy and dark humour. You take the helm as Nikos, navigating a vast watery expanse and assembling a crew while aiming for a rumored escape to Mars. The game’s greatest strength for me is its atmosphere which builds upon the first two games. Flooded settlements and makeshift rafts create a hauntingly beautiful backdrop. The narrative, while humorous at times, tackles themes of loss and desperation alongside the characters’ determination.

You start Highwater by driving a rubber dinghy, following a yellow waypoint on the radar that leads you through initially collecting some items, reading newpaper clippings and talking to some locals. The game starts with no music which had me wondering what happened to Radio Nostalgia From Mars from the previous games.

Before long the familiar sounds of a radio jockey come over the air waves and an amazing soundtrack plays, this time via ‘Highwater Pirate Radio’, and they have once again nailed the song choices for this game. The music is a clear stand-out for me for all of the games in this universe.

You run out of fuel and row the rest of the way to a nearby location where there is a gerry can of fuel guarded by an Alphavillian, one of the rich who are set to head to Mars to escape Earth’s predicament. He no longer wishes to live and douses himself in fuel. You really need that fuel, and this is your first taste of turn-based combat. You have limited movement based on your character’s stats and Nikos starts with his trusty oar and an intimidating shout.

There is a shield on the ground that helps protect you from the flaming bottles the man is throwing at you. You can also position yourself in front of the man and knock him down with the shield if you can do that within two turns, and he travels with you for a short period. The next combat scenario was against a butcher who was protecting his last sheep, but we really needed the sheep to give as a wedding present to a couple further downstream. The butcher has a knife and kills me in two hits.

I scratch my head trying to work out how this fight is even possible to win, when I noticed a slight glow around a post that is holding up the door of the sea container that the butcher is standing underneath. On my next attempt, I head straight for the post, knock it down and the door slams shut, locking the butcher in the container and I am free to take the sheep back to the wedding. This adds another companion to my team.

As you explore more you will see white dots on your radar that are optional sites to visit. At these locations you’ll find more newspapers to collect, sometimes you’ll be able to take a polaroid photograph to document your travels, and consumable buffs for your characters to use in combat like food or drinks that will provide increased movement, healing and so on.

You can use your camera’s flash to blind an enemy target for the turn, bash down other items like trees to take out enemies, push trolleys into enemies to hurt and push them back a square, and more. I particularly liked when I recruited another follower who had a fishing rod that you can cast in combat to bring a combatant one square closer to yourself. I used this to make them fall off the edge of the map and these items added some great versatility and strategy to your combat tactics.

Overall, Highwater is another great game from Demagog Studio that provides a great prequel experience to Golf Club: Wasteland and The Cub. Exploration and combat are simplified compared to other games, but no less fun and engaging. If you’re looking for a story-driven adventure with a unique post-apocalyptic setting, Highwater is worth checking out.  The blend of exploration, turn-based combat, and environmental puzzles offers a varied gameplay experience.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Reverb Communications and Highwater is available now on Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS.


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