4.0 out of 5


  • Simplistic designs
  • Post-apocalyptic world
  • Tactical battles
  • Access any chapter


  • Dialogue boxes in the way
  • No “always fast forward” option
  • Menu interfaces

Switch, PC, iOS, Android
Rogue Games
Demagog Studio
Action, Adventure, Strategy/Tactics
File Size (Minimum)
Release Date (NA)
Mar 1, 2023

Highwater is a tactical indie game where you travel by boat and fight to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. The game, originally released on Netflix mobile in late 2022, finally arrives on consoles and PC in March 2024. In addition to the fun gameplay, its simplistic designs and great soundtrack also make this game worth playing.

Water World

Highwater - Screenshot

Highwater takes place in a flooded, post-apocalyptic world where a catastrophic event turned the Earth into a harsh environment. The water is toxic and people have trouble surviving. Alphaville is a secure area where you have access to resources and a healthy life, if you are rich. However, the common folks can’t get access and are left defending themselves. You’ll help Nikos and his companions, along with anyone else, get away from this hell.

There haven’t been many games that tackle a flooded, post-apocalyptic world, and it’s a welcome change. The water has elevated high enough that there isn’t much land to explore. You’ll only see destroyed buildings, patches of forests, highway signs, and street lights poking out of the water. It’s a surreal world. The game’s dialogue also makes it interesting with a great script. Plus, each speech box displays near the person speaking like in a comic strip. There are voice overs in this game, but it’s limited to the vocal tracks and the radio. That’s okay, though. Having additional voices would take away from the game’s unique, simplistic style. However, there are times the speech boxes appear in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, while exploring in your motorized raft, speech boxes appear where you are driving, obstructing the view, and should have been moved to the bottom so you can keep your eyes on the road (or water).

Take The Helm

Highwater - Screenshot

You’ll start your adventure in your motorized raft as you look for supplies and take on short quests. You don’t have to worry about the journey being a quiet ride as you’ll have the “Pirate Radio” on to give you the latest news and music. The game contains a lot of mellow, low-key music that fits the environment you’re exploring.

You’ll also have a simplistic designed compass that directs you on key locations where you can embark. Once you are close enough to your destination, a mark will appear in front of you. If your raft gets stuck, the game prompts you to press a button on your controller to reset your raft’s position. However, it’s not going to be an easy ride. When you disembark to land, you’ll encounter other humans, and sometimes monsters, that stand in your way.

A Tactical Way

Highwater - Screenshot

Combat is handled in a unique way in Highwater. You’ll be thrown into a turned-based tactical battle where you’ll need to plan your movements carefully. Too many wrong moves and it’s game over. Unlike tactical RPGs like XCOM, there’s no level-gaining in this game. You’ll have to solely rely on critical thinking. Lucky for you, there are objects placed on the battlefield that you can use to your advantage. For instance, you can push dead trees down on enemies to take them out. The battle pace is slow, but you can fast-forward at the press of a controller button. The game’s settings don’t tell you, so it’s up to you to figure it out. Additionally, you have to hold it down between each movement and attack animation. There’s no way to leave it on by default.

The game offers a variety of combat scenarios. In some battles it’s everyone vs everyone. For example, in one fight, it’s a couple of bears vs insurgents vs your team. Plan your tactics right and you can watch the bears fight the insurgents that were once coming after you. Other scenarios have you protecting one of your teammates who’s pushing your raft across the ground or preventing Vikings from destroying power generators. The variety keeps players on their toes.

Additionally, you’ll be in situations where you have a different team than before. Some members won’t stay in your party too long, so don’t feel comfortable with who you have. It’s too bad because some characters, such as the priest, have some interesting skills that’ll help your outcome.

If there are moments where you goofed in your tactical moves, you can easily restart the battle. You can also choose any chapter you’ve played if you missed something. Be warned, though. Once you go back to that earlier chapter, you cannot continue where you left off before. At the very least, you can skip back to the latest chapter you started. Many games want you to complete the game first to have this kind of access, but Highwater gives it to you right away.

The game’s menu interface feels a bit clunky. At times, you may not realize that they are in a specific action, such as attack, and can accidently initiate it. Perhaps a more vibrant color on the current command could help with this. Also, when viewing the menu screen, equipping items and weapons doesn’t feel smooth, and it’s difficult to tell what you are clicking on and where. It could use more contrasting colors or an icon to better assist here.

The Final Wave

Highwater is an indie adventure that stands out thanks to its flooded post-apocalypse setting, simplistic designs, tactical battles, and soundtrack. Most importantly, it’s a fun ride, so grab your gear, avoid the bears, and sail away!

A PlayStation 5 code provided for this review and gameplay footage.

Highwater - Gameplay Footage

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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