Highwater review for PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, Xbox, Switch, Steam, Android
Publisher: Rouge Games
Developer: Demagog Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Living in a coastal city surrounded by water has always affected my intrusive thoughts of impending climate disaster. Where would I go? What would I do if the city flooded? With the genuine looming threat of global warming hanging over our heads, Demagog’s Highwater gives us a glimpse at what that future can very much look like. Highwater is a 3D tactical turn-based strategy game set in a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been flooded. There are small pockets of land that are reachable by dingy as you’re serenaded by some very lovely indie tunes being hosted by a pirate radio station.

At the start of Highwater, you are introduced to Nikos, a young man who is trying to survive this Waterworld-like apocalypse. You are greeted by Highwater Pirate Radio an NPR-like radio station giving you the latest news and information in the game, broken up by somber and lovely original songs. Every news update is bleaker than the previous one. You sail down roads that were previously highways but have now been plunged underwater due to the many ecological & climate disasters. Just like with any end-of-the-world type scenario, you have two types of people who you run into. Those who are willing to co-operate and collaborate as well as people who are only out for themselves. As you and your enemies fight for survival in different ways, you get word that there is a rocket slated to take the world’s best to Mars. This is where the core gameplay of Highwater kicks in.

In Highwater you sail around in a little yellow dingy, which at times would control a little rough. You stop off at different islands to scavenge for different resources such as health boosters or weapons. You can also collect different newspapers which give you a little backstory and lore of Highwater’s world. At times the sailing can be daunting and there is a lot of downtime between interactions. Once you get into a battle with the factions that impede you, the game picks up. Each battle is like a puzzle you’re trying to figure out. It plays like X-COM. I enjoyed losing a few times, just so I could regroup and figure out the best course of action in winning the said battle. Throughout the game, you meet various characters who can participate in combat depending on if it’s a part of their story. Each character has a unique weapon and fighting ability.

The story points are pretty basic. Nikos is fighting for survival in a bad situation. The game is a visual delight and tries to push for art appreciation. I can’t stress how good the game soundtrack is. I would take much more time to complete a mission or progress the story because I wanted to hear a song play out or I wanted to hear more lore & back story. The game took about 7 hours to complete and if you wanted to go for a full 100% it would take another hour. For such a bleak world, the world was shockingly vibrant and full of color.


I would recommend that you buy Highwater for the soundtrack alone if anything else. The moments I got to sail around and just listen and take in what was happening around me were fabulous. If you can get past the very sobering fact that we are currently dealing with a climate crisis in real-time, I would give this one a try.

Rouge Games provided us with a Highwater PlayStation code for review purposes.

Grade: 8.5

PlayStation Store Gift Card [Digital Code]

Price: $50.00

1 used & new available from $50.00

Purchase on Amazon