Game Reviews

Highrise Heroes

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| Highrise Heroes
Highrise Heroes
| Highrise Heroes

After an earthquake, Seb finds himself at the top of a huge and suddenly rather unstable skyscraper, bereft of memory, but fortunately retaining an instinct for survival.

The amnesiac hero must therefore work his way down to ground level - this being a word game, his task largely consists of forging a path through letter tiles that fall into the grid, just like in a billion other word games.

Spell tower

But wait! This is by the devs who somehow made sliding puzzles interesting again with Quell, so surely there's some inventiveness bolted on? Indeed!

In fact, Highrise Heroes in its early stages barely pauses for breath, so excited is it to fling new concepts at the screen.

The basic premise remains familiar: tap out words by linking strings of letters. Said strings can go in any direction, including diagonally, twisting and turning about the place.

The only limitation (apart from spelling things properly) is not using the same tile twice.

String together five letters and you'll get a red tile (explosive), and seven gets you a gold one (very, very explosive).

Explosives can be used to clear surrounding letters in one fell swoop, which might remove debris or obliterate deadly gas-emitting letters that kill you once they complete a five-turn countdown.

Get Seb to the bottom of the screen, and the level's complete. Hurrah!

The towering in-word-oh

But that's not all! Given that you're in a building that's collapsing, the air's not great, and so you must stay alive by periodically ‘threading' blue ‘oxygen' tiles through Seb.

Then you'll meet other characters who you have to save as well. Given that you often have very limited moves per level, this ups the strategy and turns some challenges into brain-smashing puzzles.

Fortunately, each character has a special power, which can come to your aid at the expense of one or two turns. For example, some can switch letters, while others can replenish a character's oxygen supply.

Given the game's tendency towards increasing complexity, it does pace itself with frequent interludes. At one point, you hook up with an ape, who demands all words be threaded through bananas.

Then a droid shows up, who has a penchant for running diagnostics. This briefly turns the board to numbers, which you string together to make a specific total.

The grate escape

Now and again, the mostly sedate turn-based gameplay has a sense of urgency injected, with pursuit-based scenarios or run-of-the-mill timers. The former are surprisingly tense, which is quite a feat for a word game.

Perhaps because it's so full of ideas early on, Highrise Heroes does eventually start to drag. Early on, you might go back to try and three-star a level, but in the end you'll just want to get through each one, especially when the move limits become much more demanding.

And then there's one specific point where the game really outstays its welcome, and it'll be all you can do to not delete it. (You'll know it when you get there.)

You'll likely carry on anyway, because of the time you've invested, but will grumble at the diminishing returns. Even the characters start talking about the repetition of tasks, and it smacks of a dev stretching out game time for no good reason.

Still, if you do stick it out to the very end, the conclusion is admittedly amusing and suitable.

Highrise Heroes

A largely entertaining word game, with some great ideas, but it bangs on a bit towards the end