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. Thanks for your support!
HighFleet cured my pandemic blues. And that's saying alot.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Recent Posts

November 13, 2022
Still, Waiting for Half-Life 3? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Still, waiting for Half-Life 3?! Well, don't hold your breath waiting for it. Here are three reasons why.

October 29, 2022
Indie Recommendation: Moons of Darsalon

Leveling up in life by playing Moons of Darsalon. This indie game is seriously addicting!

October 28, 2022
Horror Investigative Game "My Work Is Not Yet Done" to be Published by Raw Fury in 2023

Sutemi Productions and Raw Fury Join Forces to Release Investigative Horror Game My Work Isn't Done

October 25, 2022
Get Your Scream On! Steam's Scream Fest Starts Today and Through 11/01/22

Halloween may be the one day of the year when it's socially acceptable to be scared, but why limit yourself to just one day?

October 17, 2022
It's a Keeper! Dome Keeper (Steam) Review

Dome Keeper is an addictive game where the player takes on the role of a miner tasked with defending his Dome against waves of enemy attacks.

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