Version Reviewed: 1.0
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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Highborn brings a lot to the turn-based strategy game genre with it's solid game play, quirky humor, and overall enjoyable storyline. It's lighthearted nature allows Highborn to be a fun experience without adding in the countless frustrations of overly difficult strategy games. The well designed combination of top-down strategy with 3D combat scenes provide a graphically appealing experience that truly makes Highborn a great game.
The "top-down" map of Highborn, which is where most of the game is played, looks like a grandiose board game, with individual characters having a base that makes them seem like board game tokens. These characters move around the board in order to capture cities, attack enemies, and achieve objectives. Game play is extremely diverse in this area, with forests concealing movement, different cities providing cover fire for encounters, and an overall deep experience that alleviates any kind of staleness creeping in.
The storyline provides a level of comic relief, even if the comedy is more groan humor than outright laughing. While not necessarily and epic story, the game provides enough background for it to be clear what the goal is of each area, and the point to meeting that goal. "Hero" characters have their own personalities that interact with both other heroes and "Villain" characters to keep the story line flowing and the exchanges humorous.
Highborn offers single player and multi-player functionality. Currently only the first chapter of highborn is available. Chapter one includes eight separate encounters, and each encounter packs some fairly respectable game play in. Each encounter usually has one main goal and several secondary goals that are required to meet the main objective. These objectives include much more than a standard go here kill this guy, go here kill that guy. In one map, for instance, players must split their army up into smaller groups and conquer separate cities throughout the entire game map. As one city is conquered, it opens up a gate to move the army a little closer to the main objective. This continues throughout the entire round until the main enemy can be encountered.
Highborn provides a lot of depth, but not at the price of over complication. One of my biggest issues with turn based strategy games such as this is the leveling structure. Usually, only characters who kill enemies receive experience and usually the hero characters are left out of the fray for fear of losing them and losing the map. Highborn takes this issue head-on by removing a leveling structure entirely. Instead, each map has certain power-ups that can be conquered or obtained to provide a competitive edge. Monoliths that are conquered provide spells that assist in attacking the opponent, or defending against a counter-attack. Runes can provide power-ups that provide army wide defensive or offensive increases.
Highborn isn't an epic strategy game that is meant to overly immerse you in a desperate struggle between good and evil where all hope seems lost. Instead, the entire game is meant to be a light and fun addition to the turn based strategy game, easy to pick up, deep game play, a lighthearted and humorous story line, and an overall enjoyable equation that makes it an easy choice for those looking for a new game. I'm not sure when Chapter 2 will be released, but I am excited to play it when it is.