How many times have players sent whole armies into the jaws of death in strategy games? Whether through a war of attrition or just to distract the enemy, games are often filled with disposable allies. What if each ally counted, though, and was an important friend you couldn’t afford to lose? Games like Suikoden and Fire Emblem have explored this idea, and now, Burrito Studio is doing so with Highlands, putting players in control of armies filled with characters who each have their own stories to tell. If you command them well and they live, that is.
As a deposed royal family, you have been forced to flee to a kingdom in the sky. Your enemies are hot on your heels, though, and so you have to fortify your city. As you’re short on friends, every single person you recruit is crucial, filling roles as combatants, leaders, academics, and mechanics. They are all named characters with backstories, and given that they level along the way, you’ll want to keep them alive for story and gameplay reasons. Gameplay revolves around choosing how to fortify the various sections of your floating city and who you choose to do so with, turning the game into a more complex version of Risk. The game includes resource management as well, so if you want to hear more about the lives of the people you’ve recruited, you’ll need to be sharp.
Highlands has taken its striking artwork (reminiscent of early Disney animated films) and strategic gameplay to Greenlight and Kickstarter, looking for help in getting the game developed and out to people to play it. For people like me who’ve wanted to take a lot of the luck out of defending and fortifying a place (I can’t stand Risk’s focus on luck) while collecting a stable of interesting characters, it’s hard to go wrong by supporting Highlands.