Originally posted November 1st 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming forums
Thanks to Midnight City for the review code.
Title: High Strangeness
System: Wii U (eShop)
Release date: 5/6/2015
The main game/story
In this interesting take on the Action-Adventure genre, you take control of the main character, Boyd, who sets out on a quest to find his missing cat, before discovering that the world is in danger and he must switch between two dimensions in order to prevent anything dangerous from occurring! Advertised as a “12-bit” game due to the feature of switching between eras, High Strangeness plays a lot like a traditional Action-Adventure game, with some RPG elements like the focus on story thrown in for good measure.
Like many Indie games on the market, this title takes inspiration in its visual styles from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, and on the big screen, they actually look quite crisp and sharp. For a game that revolves around you switching between the two styles, there was nothing noticeably jarring that stuck out to me when switching between the two in terms of the game’s appearance, and the enemies look great in both designs, so good job on the dev team for pulling that off!
Music and Sound:
Keeping in line with the eerie and mysterious plot, High Strangeness keeps that theme in mind thanks to its soundtrack, which consists of fitting tunes that go along really well with the game. It’s another area that the game does well in, although the strangeness of the story is a factor that can also make it hurt the mood of the game as well.
High Strangeness mainly consists of a Zelda-like adventure, where you go around each area, finding clues and using your weapon to defeat enemies along the way, before eventually gaining the power to shift between 8-bit and 16-bit. While it sounds like a wonderful concept, similar to that of the Light World/Dark World from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, it felt rather tedious to do, as most of the time the 16-bit style felt better in every way, mainly due to how much better it looked, how much easier it was to control, and how much fun it was in comparison to playing the more basic 8-bit style, with me only really switching to that style if I absolutely had to. Before I got busy with summer vacation and the review queue, I tried to play this game off and on throughout the past few months, and while it did have some good qualities that made me eager to see where the story would go next, it would later make those qualities feel rather meaningless when coming back to it a few months later only to go through nearly the entirety of the game in a couple of hours. It’s a game that has a lovely concept, but is executed really poorly and seems to have been made at the last minute in order to get the game out for the Kickstarter backers. (Yes, this game was on Kickstarter and was actually funded all the way back in 2010!) It has a wonderful concept, but for most of the game it felt like a big chore to go through and wasn’t that fun to play unless I was in the 16-bit style, and even then those fun moments wouldn’t last too long.
Before we get to my final thoughts, I’d like to apologize to the developer for having this review take so long, as it was the unfortunate victim of my unexpected summer break and was low on the review queue, causing it to get delayed even further. Sincere apologies on that regard.
In conclusion High Strangeness really does have a great concept going for it. It has an interesting story with good throwbacks to retro games of old, a great concept with its graphical styles, and a nice soundtrack. However, all of these don’t work well if the gameplay feels shallow and bland, and with the rather short length of this game, I just couldn’t enjoy this game that much. The fact that it’s $9.99 is actually quite shocking, as the short length really doesn’t help justify that price, unless you are a fan of speedrunning or looking through every single area to catch all of the references to older games. I still appreciate what the developer was trying to accomplish, but overall it left much to be desired. I give High Strangeness a 4 out of 10