Caught in the midst of a crumbling world, Highrisers presents four diverse survivors who have crossed paths by pure luck. In place of mankind, deadly alien-like creatures called Dreamers now roam the cities and reveal themselves when darkness envelops the sky.

Molded as a single player 2D environment, Highrisers puts player tactics and creative minds to the test. Exhibiting a combination of scavenging, exploration, crafting, researching, and other essential means of survival embellishes the amount of logical thinking required to succeed in an isolated world.

So, Uh, What Am I Doing?

I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count how many times I restarted a day. Created by Solar Powered Games, the demo of Highrisers is a rollercoaster in the gameplay mechanics department. The objective entails repairing a helicopter to escape into a happily ever after, but it’s a bit of a headscratcher at first.

First off, it is highly recommended to, at the very least, skim through the handy dandy information provided on the project’s homepage before testing the waters. Otherwise, night will fall and eerie black monsters will absolutely destroy the four amigos. Don’t worry, nightmares will follow suit.

At first, I briefly noted some key aspects of the story. Regrettably, I neglected to become educated on all of the little features and purposes of enduring the night. It is true what they say, folks – it’s the little things that matter. Understanding the core responsibilities as a survivor in Highrisers erases that dumbfounded look players inherit – one I indubitably wore the first time I took a stab at the isolated world. Oops! *Restart*

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Unfortunately, the sun appears to go down fairly quickly. The atmosphere’s lighting begins to dim as to warn players to prepare for the arrival of Dreamers. Likewise, a sly comment from one of the heroes nudges at the idea to retreat or prepare for confrontation. I recall the hint of panic I felt attempting to discover a crafting table within the multi-story building. Of course, I didn’t ensure the required supplies to construct a weapon anyway. Who’da thunk? There go my hopes and dreams. *Restart*

Luckily, hovering over furniture and miscellaneous objects provides a brief summary of the item and what can be done with it. Almost any object can be disassembled and added to each person’s inventory, creating a clustered mess when accidental pickups occur. Yikes.

The only way I sought to rid of an unwanted item during the Highrisers demo was to hand it over to one of the other survivors. Easy peasy, right? Apparently, exchange of items requires being in close quarters with said survivor. When I have each survivor on various stories of a building and darkness is edging closer to succumbing my efforts, success isn’t exactly a walk in the park. *Restart*

Practice Makes Perfect…Sort of

The four survivors – Ike, Jes, Ann, and Mo – deliver different specialties. Unlocking skills for each character isn’t entirely relevant in the demo, but rather for future additions to Highrisers. In that case, familiarizing myself with who is was more skilled at what increased my speed rummaging for scraps and crafting essential equipment.

Sadly, the demo doesn’t provide a lot of vital information to players; hence becoming best friends with the Highrisers project page. Trial and error prevails over wishing and hoping. Sure, it isn’t ideal to constantly wave the white flag in surrender. Sometimes, though, it’s the only option. The challenge Highrisers presents to players, nonetheless, assures a decent replay value.

Discovering the nooks and crannies via various playthroughs of the demo clicked on that metaphoric light bulb in my head. The “ah-ha” moments are worth savoring, especially when a survivor is closing in toward a lower floor where the Dreamers roam. After finally attaining that final tiny screw needed to produce a melee weapon, a survivor of choice is finally able to defend themselves. Crisis averted, sort of.

Timing is everything, accompanied by teamwork. There are four survivors to alternate between for a reason. Pooling together their abilities increases the chance of survival. Makes sense, right? Only maneuvering one survivor already digs all four of their graves. Sure, a player’s best judgement might not be the best.  Let’s try a different combination of techniques next time.

A Promising Future

My experience in Highrisers didn’t involve rainbows and butterflies, but rather the opportunity to fashion my thinking cap and think on my feet. A tutorial of some sort would be an exceptional addition, acquainting players with the general game mechanics and nudging their logic in the right direction.

Nonetheless, maybe practice doesn’t make perfect quite yet in Highrisers. In time, this survival RPG could become an innovative experience gratifying to anyone who craves a challenge.

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