by Julie Morley
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]urrito Studio launched a Kickstarter campaign for their hand drawn strategy RPG Highlands back in September and raised over $23,059 CAD. Since the conclusion of their campaign they’ve opened up additional pledging through PayPal on their website, so the funding amount will continue to rise. Previously, Marcus wrote about the Highlands campaign, and Greg interviewed the developers; so it’s a game we’ve covered a fair amount. However, there’s still more to share!
I was fortunate enough to give the Highlands alpha a try and after several hours of playing, I managed to successfully move through the map to the last swarm waiting at the end. Initially, getting your feet wet with Highlands is a bit difficult but within a few turns, players can get right into the swing of it easily. It’s a lot to fun overall.
Firstly, Highlands is a turn-based game with strategy and RPG elements married together, following a similar structure to the board game Risk but with a wide range of resource control and character management to set it apart from any other game in the genre. Highlands concentrates on making things in-depth and personal, making players recruit characters each with personalities and back stories rather than anonymous hordes.
There are four different categories of characters; combatants, mechanics, leaders, and academics. The combatants are just that, your manpower; the fierce, aggressive attackers that are the toughest of the players’ group. Mechanics are responsible to building barricades and ensuring location safety. Leaders are responsible for boosting morale and recruiting people to the cause. Lastly, academics are the brain power, constantly searching for innovative and efficient weaponry, designing it, and tending to the wounded. Players will alternate between these different character types and by placing them in swarm infested regions, build up leadership and skill points, thus strengthening them and progressing down the map and Highlands generally.
Highlands comes with an in-depth story revolving around the world of Highlands, or islands that have been mysteriously floating off into the sky. With each year, these islands reach new elevations and continue to lift higher. The populations on these islands have thrived over the decades, mystified by this wonder. During this time they’ve been under the protection of the League of Dominions, many of the conflicts of the world around them have been hidden or placed under the rug. Highlands was seemingly peaceful until something disastrous happened that threw their world into pure chaos and mayhem.
Bear in mind, the alpha build only has a small portion of the features promised, but it’s enough to get an idea of the basic mechanics and what is to come. In the beginning, players only have five characters to play with, each of different abilities. Unfortunately, the build does not have any academics, but everything else is available.
On the first island, there are five lots to take control over. Each spot displays the swarm count located there and players must make sure the combination they put in that spot has a higher number than the swarm to take the spot. Once that spot is taken, hop to the other conquered spots to take up the area in the following turn. But there is a catch, there needs to be a reinforcement blocking off the influence other conquered islands otherwise the swarms will take over the previously conquered location. Through strategic planning, and tons of grinding and leveling up, players will build up their players to level cap (100) and expand their army throughout the entire map, which in this case is one of the four ones planned for the completed game.
There isn’t a conclusion to the alpha but just breaking down the final area and reaching the elevator.
With the funds acquired through the Kickstarter, Burrito Studios will be mainly finishing up the artwork, programming, and some of the audio work for Highlands. Highlands will be released on Windows, Mac, and Linux through both the Humble Store and Steam. The specific release date hasn’t been mentioned yet, but the private Beta release is planned for December of this year. Considering the progress thus far, Highlands has the potential to grow into a beautiful, elaborate strategy RPG masterpiece that I’m absolutely stoked to get my hands on.
[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/julie.jpg” ]Julie Morley is a freelance writer and comic artist from Spring, Texas. She attended the Academy of Art University for two years, studying Animation and Illustration. Whilst here, she learned about writing comic scripts, storyboards, and general storytelling. Since leaving college, she has been working on personal comic projects, stories, and illustrations. She aspires to release a self published comic within two years. For the majority of her life, she has been playing console games, typically being third-person shooters and sandboxes. Her favorite game of existence is Dark Cloud II (Dark Chronicle) and her favorite Indie game is Gone Home.[/author]