One of the great things about indie game development and really, crowdfunding, is that it encourages developers to break new ground and try new things. No matter how niche your idea, there is a chance to connect with an audience who will support it. Not all devs are going to reach for the stars, that’s fine, but Highrisers could stand to push itself a little further.
Developed by Solar Powered Games, Highrisers is a pixelized, 2D build-and-explore survival RPG. The project is seeking $53,126 over on Kickstarter.
Apocalyptic exploration/survival games are a personal favorite of mine, despite how over-saturated the market has become with them. Typically, you get a rundown world full of zombies or cannibals, maybe even zombie cannibals (cannibal zombies?) and have to find a way to survive. I’m not sure what is so satisfying about this formula, but I love starting from nothing and building up a character until I can face whatever a game might throw at me.
Living The High Life
Highrisers follows this same idea and even attempts to mix it up a bit by having the antagonists be some sort of alien looking things. My concern is that the project follows the standard formula so closely that it hasn’t left itself anywhere to go.
The story follows a group of four survivors who must band together to fight off waves of monstrous creatures. The creatures, called ‘dreamers’ lurk in the shadows and when the sun sets they begin making their way up towards where the survivors are holed-up.
Players have to manage the survivors day-time activities. Delegating scavenging, crafting, and researching duties so the group can survive the coming onslaught. Ultimately, they need to repair their failing helicopter so they can make a leap to the next build and start-over.
As a concept Highrisers is solid, the pixel graphics look great, and the gameplay mechanics seem solid enough. So why am I not sold on this? As I mentioned earlier, I play a lot of survival games. The standard formula doesn’t keep me engaged for very long anymore. With the number of these sort of games available, I suspect I’m not alone.
What I’ve seen of Highrisers is fine, but it needs something new and different to stand out in the survival horde. Maybe a deeper, unfolding narrative? Unusual gameplay mechanics? Something to keep me invested beyond the first nightfall.