In 2009 High Strangeness started off its existence as the first Kickstarted game in history, developed in various forms as a collaboration between Barnyard Intelligence Games and Crystal Labs. It was projected to be released way back in 2010 and was shown at MAGfest, PAX East and Boston FIG among others. It was finally released on May 6, 2015 for Steam and the Nintendo Wii U courtesy of Midnight City and that just shows you the scheduling of a Kickstarter game on the Wii U I guess! Kickstarter was huge for indie developers for a while, it has since waned, and this could a reason for it.
Not that I didn’t like High Strangeness it was okay, but it was a fan service just for the developer themselves. Let me explain, it is an 8-bit /12-bit game graphically. The inspiration of the game comes from many Action-Adventure and RPG games of yesteryear. The game’s core ability is to switch between 8 and 16 bit worlds and the player uses their generational differences to solve puzzles and explore the universe. Throughout the game your pixel art perspective of the world will be infused with visions of watercolor illustrations that shed some light on your mysterious surroundings.
Players take on the role of Boyd, who along with his trusty yet sarcastic feline friend, traverses between two worlds in order to solve a multi-layered and crazy mystery that draws its insanity from games of old. The ability to switch between the 8-bit and 16-bit worlds adds a unique wrinkle to the game and enables players to solve puzzles and figure out the secrets of the High Strangeness realm.
It is a cool effect being retro and all going between different types of looks for the game. The game plays like an old Zelda game, but the setting is modern, mixed with the paranormal. Instead of swinging a sword at a goblin you are swinging a flashlight at a ghost or something of that ilk.
The plot is interesting enough and there are a lot of nods to the games that inspired the creator. The atmosphere is conveyed well with the game mechanics; put it this way, High Strangeness is an appropriate title for this one for sure. It is an interesting romp with some let downs with the plot overall. The gameplay does get a bit more interesting as things get unlocked but not by much. The chiptune soundtrack by Dino Lionetti and Rich Vreeland backs up the aesthetic of the world and sets the mood for strange happenings.
High Strangeness is a short affair for the asking price and the gameplay in the whole gets repetitive (there are some interesting puzzles). There is potential here, but it just comes across for nine pounds, it’s just not enough. The Wii U version has sold much better than the Steam version and I do hope the developer keeps going, there is potential there, but this isn’t one I could recommend myself. I could see it tickle some fans of this type of thing; however it just isn’t for me.
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