Reach for the sky.
Are full blown cities just too big to handle? Are you trying to escape the constant socializing of games like The Sims? Kasedo Games and SomaSim’s Project Highrise may have the solution – a fullblown ecosystem packaged into a skyscraper.
We previewed Project Highrise here, and much of the core game has remained the same for the final release. In Project Highrise, players get to build and manage the skyscraper of their dreams (If they dream of skyscrapers). This sandbox simulation gives the player the chance to build individual floors for their skyscraper and then kit them out however they wish, within reason. Of course, the reality is that there are limitations.
As is often the case, things start simply. Build a couple of floors and assign them as basic offices or simple apartments, and then choose tenants from a list of those available. Drop a utility closet on each floor and hook up the tenants with water and electric. Don’t forget the stairwell so tenants can reach their apartments or offices. Then sit back and watch the money come in as the little people come and go in your tower.
Things don’t stay simple for long, and the pursuit of more money leads to yet more complications. Tenants, whether they be a legal firm or a bachelor renting his first bedsit, all have requirements, and as the player progresses by building more and keeping tenants happy, the requirements become more complex. Before long, more lucrative building options will become available, and the player will be responsible for not only hooking up more utilities, such as gas or phone lines, but also providing services. An office may require a copy service and failure to provide one in the tower will see the tenant leave. Or an apartment owner may want a dog walking service. Each of these services cost money to provide and take up space in the building. They can also only cover a certain number of tenants, so as the tower grows, more of each service may be required.
As the tower expands, elevators will have to be fitted to keep the ever growing population moving. A maintenance crew will also be needed to keep things moving. And tenants requirements are not limited to services. Providing different types of shops or food outlets are another way to keep tenants happy, while also offering yet more revenue. However, shops will need storage space and no one wants to live or work next to a smelly Taco stand or noisy store, so placement of these rooms types has to be carefully thought out, especially when the stores themselves don’t want to be tucked away in a corner where they will get no customers. And don’t even get me started on rubbish and recycling…
Then there is the core management of the tower itself. Different consultants can be given offices in the building, providing access to expanded zoning or aesthetically pleasing decoration for the tower. Buzz can be generated by a happy population, which can then be spent on media campaigns to attract new tenants or lower the cost of building for a limited time. Then there are contracts available that can give the player some direction in exchange for rewards. These contracts may simply ask the player to to reach a certain population number or an income. Or they may require the player to include a set number of a certain type of room in the tower, which can cause some problems if the player has carefully planned their building.
Project Highrise is still the fairly complex, serious simulator that I previewed back in July. But there are a couple of new additions for launch that make the game even more interesting for the simulation fans. Steam Workshop support expands the scope of the game, giving players with a creative streak the chance to create their own rooms or decorations, while regular players will have access to what will likely be a massive library of fan-made content. The other new addition since I previewed the game is a selection of scenarios. Each of these scenarios drop the player into a ready built tower that has problems, and the player is challenged to fix them in order to unlock the next. These scenarios require some knowledge of the game to begin with and can be quite challenging, but are a great addition for those who want to see other ways of building towers, and the other possible problems that may arise.
In all, the release version of Project Highrise offers a nicely complete package which is brimming with replayability. In fact, it may take a few tower building attempts before players are able to fully appreciate and manage the complexity of this simulation game.
Project Highrise is the sort of game that will simply suck up hours of any simulation fans time. The stylized look may not be for everyone, but the appeal of managing an ever growing ecosystem will be difficult to ignore for Sim fans.