August 21, 2021

Taking the High Ground - HighFleet (PC) Review

This post may contain affiliate links from places like Amazon and Green Man Gaming — and we may earn a small commission when you click these links. All earnings will go to keeping this website as minimally ad-free as possible. Learn more here.

Taking the High Ground - HighFleet (PC) Review

By Joel | August 21, 2021
It’s a special game from start to finish, and perhaps, I'll go ahead and say it, one of the best of 2021 so far.

HighFleet cured my pandemic blues. And that's saying a lot.

The year is unknown and the surviving population of the old Earth are engulfed in civil war—the type of civil war that enables game developers to keep the ideologies vague and the names sinister-sounding. You play a Tarkhan captain tasked with capturing a key rebellion city in hopes of bringing the rebels to the negotiating table. But it's not going to be easy as generations of mistrust and bloodshed hinder any potential progress. There is a bad feeling all around.

Arriving at the mission objective, the young captain finds survivors, hears their stories and then is led into a virtual reality version of a close encounter of the third kind. Through narration, he is told about the history of the war and the secret of life on what used to be Earth and continues his journey in the most unexpected way.

Higher and Higher

I watched the cutscenes with pleasure that was frequently interrupted by frustration. The three key game mechanics (arcade shooting, strategy, and an RPG lite component) are very well done. But why does the game amble so casually between these high points? Why must I constantly worry about fuel or have to navigate levers and button pushes to simply get from one point to another?

And why, oh why, in a game where stories of past galactic battles, are we given just one ship to control against an armada of enemy ships? While I enjoyed HighFleet, I can't imagine why I had to go through so much to accomplish what I felt like was so little.

The game misses too many of its marks, especially early on. But I kept going because it had so many extraordinary things in it. It's as if the developer, Konstantine Koshutin, rises to the occasion with its slick graphics and presentations but falls slightly when trying to execute them.

An old friend of mine verbalized his simple definition of a good game: "If the game is missioned based, make sure there are more good missions than bad ones" Thankfully Highfleet does more good than bad.

Despite some of these annoyances, the game does breathe new life into the traditional blast 'em up tropes. Highfleet takes a little extra time to show off its laser beams, steering wheels, and hydraulic joints on its spaceships to make piloting one seem unique.

And the feeling conveyed when landing a spacecraft goes the extra mile to show the player the emotional stress and natural obstacles that one must overcome while solving physics-based dilemmas. The game may not be the next Homeworld, but on its own, it is pretty darn good.

HighFleet cured my pandemic blues. And that's saying a lot.

High Marks

It’s interesting to consider how HighFleet would have fared a decade or two ago when hybrid games like Battlezone and Uprising ruled the roost. I'm sure it would have had limited visibility due to it not being from a big named developer but would have most likely achieved a cult following simply by word of mouth alone.

Of course, access to good games—and this is a good game—is what matters, especially during a pandemic that is forcing many to stay at home, but I wonder if it will get the same traction as it’s buried in an overcrowded Steam service. I certainly hope not.

Overall, I absolutely enjoyed Highfleet. The storytelling is rich with a fantastic legacy featuring deep themes and an admirable structure that, at times, immerses the player in a real cosmic struggle. It’s a game that is not only fun to play, but demands to be replayed for many of its features will be overlooked the first time around. It’s a special game from start to finish and one of the best of 2021 so far.

January 12, 2024
Why the Iowa Caucus Matters: A Look at the First Crucial Step in the GOP Presidential Race

Understand the unique caucus process in Iowa and discover why this state sets the presidential race's pace.

Read More
January 11, 2024
A Sobering Look into the Trenches of Medical Management: War Hospital (Steam) Review

Experience the gritty reality of WW1 field hospitals in War Hospital and explores the game's immersive environment and powerful narrative.

Read More
January 10, 2024
Stay Hydrated and Game On: The Top Gaming Water Bottles for Endurance and Performance

Discover the ultimate gaming water bottles designed to keep you hydrated and at peak performance.

Read More


November 26, 2021
Who Da King? KoF '98 Ultimate Match Gets Winter Update

THE KING OF FIGHTERS '98 ULTIMATE MATCH FINAL EDITION gets even better with brand-new winter update

August 29, 2023
Idalia is Coming: How Florida's Newest Visitor Got Her Name

Discovering the intriguing history behind hurricane names as Florida prepares for Hurricane Idalia

June 10, 2019
From Burbank to Game Dude: Discovering Retro Gaming Treasures in North Hollywood, CA

Gaming Enthusiasts Unite: Game Dude in North Hollywood, CA - A Hidden Gem for Retro Gamers

November 13, 2023
KO.DLL Unleashes a Retro-Gaming Gem in Bzzzt

Discover Bzzzt, the latest retro game by indie developer KO.DLL and immerse yourself in a pixel precision platformer inspired by 80s gaming

September 14, 2021
Tiny Buildings, Big Heart -Tinytopia (Steam) Review

Tinytopia is wisely modest in its scope despite its big intentions. It sets up the situation, begs the player to build, and has fun with the special effects.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram