Highrisers is the epitome of the zombie genre for me: there’s no hope. I’ve never got past season two of The Walking Dead for that exact reason – I don’t want to feel melancholy when being entertained.
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Highrisers, from Solar Powered Games and Assemble Entertainment, is a little different, though. First, it’s entertaining, and two, they aren’t zombies but Dreamers. You play a crack team of individuals who are trapped at the peak of a high rise. Your job is to repair the helicopter on the landing and escape to safety.
That’s a pretty simple setup, but the 36 levels below the helipad are filled with enemies, growing in numbers as the days pass. A bit like Skyhill, you start from the top and work your way down. Getting a helicopter up and running is no leisurely objective – especially as you have to locate all the relevant parts.
The general premise of Highrisers is to salvage everything in sight. That means disassembling various items to loot the parts you need for the chopper, plus your survival. It’s possible to craft melee and ranged weapons, chemicals, traps, complex mechanical parts to build more advanced gear, and so on.
Each playthrough is different from the last, and no floor is the same. As a result, places where you scavenged before no longer exist, and for the bulk of the time, you can’t find the items you need to continue. The only way to fill the gap (other than venturing further down the floors) is to level up and craft the things you need.
As mentioned, there are four characters; Jes, Ike, Ann and Mo. They’re all controlled independently and have their skillsets. At the end of the day, the Dreamers populate the bottom of the building and work their way up – if you survive, you’re awarded a skill point at dawn. Unfortunately, you have to level each character up each day and focus on one player. This is a massive flaw as I had my favourites, but I had to waste a skill point on a player that was a bit surplus.
Because you control each player individually, you have to manually scroll to the level you want them to go, backtracking to each other player one at a time. This causes an issue if you’re on the run from Dreamers as you have to manually scroll to a safe spot, then click, then do the same for each character. While you can click on the character icon to jump straight to them, it’s often quite fiddly.
Besides surviving the onslaught during the night (the numbers increase daily, so even during the day, it’s impossible to go further down unless you have Rambo on speed dial), you have to ensure that everyone is eating too. Food can be picked up along the way, and you can grow plants too, but as the resources are so restricted, the only way I found was scavenging for food. Once the hunger meter is depleted, their health will drop until they do. It’s not game over if a player dies, and quite frankly, it’s a bit of relief not having to flick back and forth.
However, the hardest thing to handle with Highrisers was the save points. You can exit the game at any point from an on-screen menu button, and from here, there’s a save and exit feature. Four restarts later, and there still wasn’t a continue option on the menu, forcing me to start the game every single time. It got to the point where I left the game in the menu, had some lunch, came back and continued. There’s no way to save your progress, and it takes an age to get anywhere. For that reason, Highrisers isn’t a game I’ll be coming back to just yet.
Highrisers Review Summary
Highrisers is a decent concept and shows some promise. The visuals are nice and retro, and I like the survival idea. Still, without any difficulty settings or saving your game, it’s just not something I can personally recommend at this stage. If these sections are fixed, as well as a higher probability of actually finding the gear you need without having to survive a few days until you can craft it, then it’s a game I’ll come back to and see it through.
- Interesting concept.
- Lots of items to craft.
- Procedurally generated – new playthrough each time.
- Skill trees differ greatly.
- The save option doesn’t work at the time of writing.
- Almost impossible to get lower down as the game progresses.
- Locating the item you need is harder than you think.
- Independently controlling each player is awkward.