Project Highrise is the epitome of too much of a good thing, words I never thought I’d usher in relation to a micromanagement sim. I’ve been yearning for a deep city builder for years, and seeing as its one of my favourite genres, I’m well aware how desperate we are for a solid title that doesn’t forgo many of the deeper, refined points of games like SimCity (here’s looking at you Jurassic World: Evolution). And while it’s true that Project Highrise answers all your tower building needs, it’s also cripplingly daunting at the same time, leaving me both excited and achingly confused. Help.
The basics require you to build, manage and maintain a series of highrise buildings with various rulesets that can be put in place. A basic scenario gives you the free will to make the kind of tower block you want and there’s plenty of options from office buildings to residential flats. They all have different requirements that they need to be happy, like having a phone line or access to cable TV. Obviously a happy tenant is a long-standing tenant and this is the bread and butter way of money-making in the game; keep your tenants satisfied and keep that mullah rolling in.
And when I say you’re managing this building, you’re really, really managing it; it feels like a second job at times. You need to supply rooms with power, water, gas, air con, cable TV and more, but someone has to lay those lines, so you have to employ workers to manage your building (who obviously you have to the pay) and once you’ve got tenants, you’ll need to make sure they have somewhere to eat and drink and not just restaurants and cafes, but water coolers too and then they’re gonna need somewhere to put all their waste, which in turn needs putting into a bin in the basement ready for collection. Out of breathe? Exactly the issue, it doesn’t let you take it all in and not only this, but it doesn’t really explain anything to you. There’s a tutorial, but it barely scratches the surface of the chasm-deep menus, leaving you to ponder and guess what the myriad of micro menus do.
If you’ve opted to try the game fairly (with a base amount of money rather than opting for the unlimited cash option) you’ll realise it’s incredibly difficult to keep the cash flow steady. You can run a basic one level office block easy enough, but what about when it starts to deteriorate and you need to renovate? What about when the tenants start coming to you in fits of starvation and ask for more variation in food outlets? These relatively easy problems to solve have a snowball effect and in essence the game doesn’t give you enough starting cash to remedy these issues before they become bigger. For example, building a new cafe to solve hunger pangs is easy enough, but then they require water and gas to run their business and before you know it, you’re out of pocket again.
When you’re over the initial hurdles, taking on contracts can help you garner much-needed cash, so whether that’s aiming for at least ten offices of a certain type or hitting a specific prestige level, completing these tasks can help boost your income. There’s a massive focus on letting the player have complete control in Project Highrise, so you can adjust almost all cash flow options too; so increasing building rent can obviously give you a cash injection, even if it doesn’t do much for your tenant happiness.
And while cash is important, keeping the ones bringing in the rent satisfied is equally as important too. Ticking all these boxes unlocks prestige that you can use to employ people like interior designers that can add some artistic flair to your building. If like me, you like to have a say on aesthetics in sims then this will be right up your alley, as options are deep and you can really let loose with designing your perfect tower.
To be fair they could have got away with just having offices and restaurants and I wouldn’t have minded. Instead, you can further your mini city with anything from a casino to a hotel. All of these options come with their own unique options, such as entertainment and lobbies for greeting guests. You can’t knock ‘em for the content you’re getting here.
If that wasn’t enough there’s also thirty different scenarios for you to try that emulate various situations for you to overcome. These are actually a really good place to start as the bulk of the works done already, giving you a chance to get to grips with the finer details of the game and giving the package some loose structure.
The other issue that these wealth of options causes is confusion to the interface. To be fair some of this is down to the Switches teeny screen size, as it’s not easy to squash so much onto such a small landscape, but there’s definitely not a need for so many options. For example, there are three menus that each have around ten other menus that each have their own set of options and menus for you to go through. Don’t get me wrong it’s obviously great to have a game boast so much content but many of the charts, breakdowns of expenses and other reads feel like bloatware that make an already confusing game even more so.
I feel like I’ve done nothing but rip into Project Highrise, but I do genuinely enjoy it. Yes, it has far too much going on but it all works as it should and if you can get over the confusing aspects, it’s an absolutely solid strategic sim – it runs smoothly, looks lovely and plays great.
For all the aggravation it causes me, I do have a huge soft spot for Project Highrise. It takes a lot of time, but once you’re over the bumpy start, there’s a huge timesink of a game that can keep a budding architect happy for days. If, however, you unfortunately have a short attention span, you probably won’t see it through an hour, but for those looking for an incredibly deep and rewarding experience, Project Highrise might just be the game of your dreams.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
It takes a lot of time, but once you’re over the bumpy start, there’s a huge timesink of a game that can keep a budding architect happy for days.