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Video Game / Highborn

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Highborn is a Turn-Based Strategy game for PC and mobile devices. In this game, you control the army of the Highborn as they protect the land from the forces of the Decay. Along the way, there's plenty of amusing dialogue, with lots of Puns and lampshading.

And yes, the creators totally know we exist.note 

This game was originally released on mobiles in 2010, while PC version was released on Steam, on the 19th of February, 2013.


This game provides examples of:

  • Acoustic License: the characters are often able to talk from across the map. This even gets lampshaded once:
    Trillian: Wait, how are we even talking?
  • Action Girl: Trillian.
  • Action Hero: The three, um, Heroes: Archie, Enzo, and Trillian.
  • Actual Pacifist: The Monk. While they are invaluable as healers, they can't fight at all. They automatically die without entering the combat screen if an enemy engages them.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Idols, which boost defense, attack power, or number of spaces you can move.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: Teslas and Cannons have a minimum range of two squares away, unlike most characters/machines, which can attack from one square away.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Rosencrantz: Here we are, marching across this razor-sharp infection waiting to happen, towards what is likely certain death at the hands of these do-gooders, and you're concerned with CALORIES?!
    • Dragon coming-of-age rituals apparently involve the razing of towns, theft of treasure, consumption of wild worms, and gifting of pens.
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  • The Bad Guy Wins: Chapter 3 ends with the Decay faction victorious and Floyd the new president. Even Floyd is surprised.
  • Battle Couple: Jessica and Enzo in Chapter 3.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: If you haven't figured it out by reading this page, they really love to lampshade things.
  • Big Bad: Floyd the Arch-Lich, in the first and second chapters.
  • Breaking Out the Boss: The first round of chapter 3, entitled "Inevitable Breakout."
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done quite often; they'll comment on how long the dialogue is, and things of that nature. Even this isn't immune to being lampshaded:
    Trillian: Hey, I think you two have broken the fourth wall enough this mission.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Minotaur. He just wants to support his family, but he keeps getting defeated by everyone and made the subject of bovine-related puns.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: The tutorial's description promises there will be cake at the end, but turns out there is none.
  • Clown-Car Base: In the tutorial, there's a tiny patch of trees that several monsters keep coming out of (too many to normally fit). This gets lampshaded:
    Archie: Wow, there sure is a lot of stuff hiding in that small forest.
  • Compensating for Something: The Arch-Lich claims that Archie's large sword is this.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Members of and buildings that belong to the Decay are red. Members of and buildings that belong to the Highborn are blue. The colors are switched around when you play as the Decay faction in chapter 3.
  • Control Room Puzzle: The Portal-themed mission in Chapter 3 operates this way.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Some of the battles, particularly when using one of your Heroes to fight a weaker Mook such as Imps or Skeletons.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Enzo. He may not be young, but he's Hispanic, a powerful mage, and apparently still attractive to the ladies (Trillian refers to him as "Mr. Love-'em-and-leave-'em" once).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many of the characters - all three of the Heroes at some point or another, and occasionally some of the enemies as well. Special mention goes to Floyd the Arch-Lich, who has a snarky comment for anything that happens.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A mage in chapter 1 welcomes Enzo to the wizard's council on behalf of the "Order of the Natural Order".
  • Don't Explain the Joke: The encyclopedia entry for Foozle acknowledges this trope, but then proceeds to explain the joke anyway, since it's pretty subtle.
  • Dual Wielding: Trillian uses two daggers, and dwarves carry two small axes.
  • Eldritch Abomination: iB.
  • Election Day Episode: The third chapter averts the No Campaign for the Wicked trope in two ways: the "bad guys" are the playable faction for the chapter, and the Arch-Lich in charge of them is running an election campaign. It comes complete with dragons kissing babies during a rally for their candidate.
  • Embarrassing First Name:
    • The Arch-Lich's first name is Floyd, and he's astonished that Archie knows his name.
    • During the second chapter, Archie's pizza order finally arrives, addressed to Archibald T. Paladin. Archie claims that he doesn't know anyone called Archibald.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: In the "Time for Council" mission in Chapter 1, Enzo introduces you to the location you're at:
    So, the wetlands. Named so due to all the um... wetness.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Enzo's encyclopedia entry claims that he considered doing this in order to keep his riches, but he knew he was Archie's hero, and didn't want to become a Broken Pedestal.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three Heroes: Archie, Enzo, and Trillian. Archie is an armored melee fighter, Enzo is an ice mage that fights from a distance, and Trillian is a dual dagger-wielding thief whose special ability is invisibility.
  • Fragile Speedster: Flying Machines. They can travel the greatest distance in one turn, but they're extremely weak and can typically be killed in one hit.
  • Fridge Logic: Used in-universe: a knight muses about how healing works on the undead. Shouldn't it hurt them, if they're alrady dead? Or maybe resurrect them? invoked
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: "HARCOURT FENTON MINOTAUR!", though in the third chapter they seem to forget the name and call him Bill in his encyclopedia entry instead.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Archie, Enzo, and Trillian each claim that breaking monoliths to take down the Master Monolith was their idea. (It really was Trillian's.)
  • Glass Cannon: Discussed: Cabus refers to wizards as "glass cannons" in chapter 3.
  • Good News, Bad News: Archie tells Enzo he's got good news and bad news. Enzo says to tell him half the good news first, then the bad news, then the other half of the good news.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: There's an "encyclopedia", of sorts, which lets you read a biography/description of all friends, foes, spells, and buildings. You just have to have one existing in your current game to read the entry about it (apart from spells).
  • Hair-Raising Hare: Enzo comments at one point in chapter 1 that he thought he'd have to unleash the killer rabbits from his hat trick, or his bloodthirsty doves of doom.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Jessica and Enzo's children, who are called "Worgons": half Wizard and half Gorgon.
  • Harmful to Touch: Poisonous swamps (except to monks, the undead, Icky, iBs, and war machines). Fortunately the swamps are always bright purple, so you're automatically suspicious of them.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Monty the Dragon. He admits it in the last mission of Chapter 3.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jessica after her marriage to Enzo.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The characters do this, on occasion, but once again, Floyd gets a special mention when he unleashes one on the Minotaur.
    Floyd: I guess the Highborn wanted to BEEF up security. MOO bad it didn't work; because I'm breaking out, and there is DAIRY a thing you can do about it. Maybe you shouldn't have had deCALF this morning.... BWAHAHA! Have you ever HERD such a great joke? Practice up, I'm sure we'll do battle an UDDER day.
    Floyd: Don't even try to stop me folks, I've got a million of 'em!
  • I Can See My House from Here: Said by Archie when the Highborn first arrive on the moon.
  • I Love the Smell of X in the Morning: Monty the Dragon likes the smell of dragon fire in the morning.
  • An Ice Person: Enzo, a mage whose full name is Vincenzo Barbagelata, has two spells are "Chill Out" and "Freeze". Barbagelata also translates as "Frozen Beard."
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • One that the characters find lame is "You mess with the bull, you get the horns", when said by a Minotaur.
    • Cabus isn't very appreciative of the wolf jokes that the Highborn make about him.
    • Monty the dragon and the Minotaur have a brief exchange of insults/puns in the last mission of the second chapter until Floyd makes them stop.
  • Just Friends: In the first chapter, Cabus claims the he and Lola are this.
  • Kill It with Ice: Enzo's "Freeze" spell has a chance of freezing the enemy solid. One of the Monolith spells is "Ice Storm", which summons ice shards to rain down from the sky onto the opponent.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Archie. Though he admits in the end of chapter 3 that he'd rather be happy than right which is why he still supports Foozle Jr. even though Floyd won the election.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Everywhere. Everything from game mechanics to plot points, to puns, to the fact that they're breaking the fourth wall, gets a lampshade hung on it.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    Trillian: What is this, some silly adventure game from the 90's where we have to go traipsing across the countryside at the whim of some stupid writer who keeps trying to justify his ridiculous story with paper-thin plot points and loony objectives?
  • Mage Tower: You can capture towers to be able to control the Wizard living in it.
    • There is also a tower where the Wizard's Council meets. They're rather afraid to come out because of the dragon trying to eat them, so Enzo has to go up to the tower himself to talk to them. He grumbles about having to do it a second time in the second chapter.
  • Mighty Glacier: War Machines. Great offense, and the slowest movement rate among all the units. Floyd even complains about this in chapter 3.
  • Mind Control: Floyd's map ability allows him to take control of any non-hero non-mechanical unit.
  • Mister Seahorse: Lampshaded.
    Enzo: Wait... did he say eggs? Isn't he a boy dragon? Never mind. It's best not to ask too many questions.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Literal example during the tutorial.
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands: In the second chapter, Enzo, after somehow using a Flyer as a vehicle, claims that when you're on the Decay side, you can break the rules whenever you want as a plot device.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted in Chapter 3, in which you play as the Arch-Lich. Literally, since he's running an election campaign and wins.
  • No Fourth Wall: First, the tutorial. Justified, as they need to teach you how to play. While the first chapter simply leans on the wall, and the second one breaks it on a regular basis, and by the third chapter there is no fourth wall. They're fully aware they're in a game and even mention Jet Set Games once.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: When a wizard suggests that Jessica the Gorgon might be pregnant, Trillian's reaction is "No! Don't you even suggest THAT!"
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently the Arch-Lich going bad was caused by "the tragic events surrounding his brother Melvin and those penguins".
  • Non Standard Game Over: Normally the game ends when a Hero unit dies. In the Portal-themed mission, if you kill the technician imp, he will scold you and remind you that you have a Mind Control spell. You then lose the mission and have to restart.
  • Oedipus Complex: Archie
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: Trillian tells Foglio "Walk away, four eyes. Walk away very quickly or I will stab you."
  • Overly-Long Gag: The encyclopedia entry about sorceresses, which is by far the longest entry in the game, and which is nothing but a long Shout-Out to Gilmore Girls and has nothing to actually do with Sorceresses. Click for the full entry 
  • Politicians Kiss Babies: In the third chapter, when campaigning for Foozle, Monty orders his children to go out and hold a rally. Being dragons, he has to remind them to just kiss the babies, not eat them.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Minotaur, who just wants to support his wife and kids. It's just his bad luck that he is always pitted against the player character.
  • Redemption Demotion: Lampshaded and inverted when Cabus joins Floyd in chapter 3. Cabus tells Floyd that he can only summon one wolf instead of four since he's playable. Inverted since Floyd is a Villain Protagonist.
  • Series Continuity Error: We learn the Minotaur's full name in chapter 2 - Fenton Harcourt Minotaur. His chapter 3 journal entry calls him Bill.
  • Shout-Out: So many they got their own page.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Mad Wizards, who can be taken out by the smallest physical assault. The encyclopedia entry mentions that decades of being cooped up in a tower studying magical lore 24-7 leaves little time for exercise and proper nutrition.
  • Summon Magic: Cabus the werewolf gains the ability to summon Dire Wolves in Chapter 3.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • The dragon in chapter 1 claims "I won't be hiding in this forest over here or anything."
    • The Wraith Lord in chapter 2:
      That was MINT condition and still in the original box! I mean, Fro-Inter-what? Never heard of it. And I certainly don't have this warranty card thing... and the original store receipt.
  • Take That!:
    • The heroes are horrified that Cabus has retooled the smithies to produce Twilight figurines.
    • Foozle's encyclopedia entry claims that if you don't know who Yoko Ono is, you're probably better off.
  • Temporarily a Villain: Enzo for a while during the second chapter.
  • That Came Out Wrong: From the tutorial:
    Archie: Go ahead and touch... err, I mean SELECT me...
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: The appropriately-named Flyers.
  • Totally Radical: Enzo tends to use slang like "pwned" on occasion.
  • Tuckerization: The Worgons are named after the developers' kids, and the owner's dog Hershey.
  • 20% More Awesome: The chapters are listed as being "18.75% more fun per volume!"
  • Useless Useful Spell: Mocked in the final mission of chapter 2. When the destruction of the first Moon Crystal destroys the nearby Monolith, Archie says it's a good thing it was just "Enfeeble" (spell that reduces an enemy's physical attack).
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Chapter 3 gives you the spell "Sacrifice," which lets you sacrifice the life of a non-hero, friendly unit to heal your other units. The Arch-Lich has the "Mind-Control" spell that switches an enemy unit into a friendly one. You can then send brainwashed enemies into suicide attacks or pick the brainwashed enemy as your healing Sacrifice.
  • Warm-Up Boss: The Minotaur. He even claims that he shouldn't show up in the later levels because he's just an early-level boss and easily defeated.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If any one of the Heroes is defeated, you lose the mission.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: In Chapter 3, one mission is a parody of Portal, complete with Siege Towers as Sentry stand-ins and an AI named MadOS that looks almost exactly like GLaDOS. Chapter 3 itself has ongoing references to, oddly, Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. It's even titled "The Audacity!"