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Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 6 - 2018

Reach for the sky, from your couch.

Somasim and Kasedo Games’ Project Highrise launched some two years ago on Steam, and proved to be a very enjoyable building and management game. Now though, console players will also be able to build the skyscraper of their dreams, while catering to the needs of the many, in the Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition on Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, which includes the core game along with all of the DLC released for the game so far. Build it big and build it proud.

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The sim market is still fairly niche on console, partly to do with how difficult it is to transfer the controls from mouse and keyboard to controller, and partly due to the often much slower pace that is found in sim games. However, more and more of these types of games are now coming to console, and for the most part developers seem to have gotten the control issue sorted. Somasim seem to have everything in order with Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition as controlling the game with a controller is a breeze. Of course, there are a lot of options to navigate, so expect it to take a while to work everything out. But after a couple of hours of play, which will fly by once the player gets into the flow of building their own vertical empire, the controls come quite naturally and don’t hamper the play at all.

I just wanted to get that out of the way, as control issues are always my first concern with sim games on console. But what is Project Highrise all about? Well, imagine building your very own city, but then condensing it down into a tower. In Project Highrise players will get to see all aspects of life squeezed into a vertical structure that just keeps going up.

The sandbox mode is where most players will find the fun, although the optional tutorial may be a good idea for newcomers. However, the concept is straight forward, in that players will want to make money, usually through rent and other revenue streams. This will mean pleasing people and giving them what they want, which can be a lot more difficult than you would think.

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In the sandbox mode, players start with a small amount of money and some big dreams. An unlimited money option is available, but will mean no achievements. Still, as money management is the most difficult aspect of this game, the option is there. Anyway, it starts out simply, just build a couple of floors, drop in a utility closet for each floor and some stairs, and then decide whether you want offices or small apartments. There are some little builder guys in the basement who will get to work once the player has made their choices. The control is quite impressive, as the player is even able to choose their tenants.

Building is expensive, so expect to see that bank balance go down quickly in the early game. Loans are available if the player gets into trouble, and special contracts that the player can take on will provide some healthy infusions of cash. Players can take up to two of these contracts at a time, and they usually require something simple like reaching a certain population, or building a set number of offices or whatever.

Anyway, as the player builds their tower higher and higher, more complicating factors come into play. Larger offices and more appealing apartments can be built, but the tenants will have more requirements. Things like power and water are easy enough to run from the utility closets, but then tenants will start going on about phones, or cable TV. It doesn’t stop at utilities either, and before long offices will require copy services or bottled water delivery, and tenants will be wanting the likes of dog walking services. They really are a needy lot, and if they are not happy then they will simply leave, taking their money with them.

As the tower grows, stairs will have to be replaced with elevators, and a maintenance crew will need to be on hand to make sure they continue to function. Offices and apartments are not where the building ends, as soon the player will be able to add in restaurants, shops and even hotels. These all come with their own problems, such as needing storage, or wanting to be somewhere with a high footfall to bring the customers in. But then, who would want an apartment above a smelly burger bar? Or next to a noisy shop? As the tower gets bigger, more and more things need to be taken into account, all of which can have an affect on the players income.

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Money is not the be all and end all though, as there is also prestige that unlocks the more desirable rooms, influence that brings improvements, and buzz that simply makes your tower the place to be. Project Highrise is a complex game, one that needs to be taken slowly and methodically. But once the money starts rolling in and everything is working how it should, it is incredibly satisfying.

Outside of the sandbox mode and the tutorial, players who want a more directed experience can indulge in the huge number of different scenarios available. Each of these scenarios challenge the player with different objectives and award the player up to three stars on completion. The scenarios tend to be quite difficult, so I would suggest they are better suited to the more experienced player, but they are a great addition, adding more focus to the game.

Visually, Project Highrise has quite a minimalist look, but actually has a surprising amount of detail. The colour palette is fairly bland for the most part, offering up many greys and browns, and can look unimpressive in the early game. However, once the player has multiple floors built and populated, zooming out and watching life carry on like an ant farm, the colours actually suit, and then being able to zoom in nice and close to see what is going on with individuals is quite a thrill.

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Project Highrise is a game that gets more and more complex, but moves at a slow pace. It is this slow moving action that I think will put some players off. However, for fans of sim games on consoles, Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition gives the player plenty of options and loads of content, and the chance to reach for the sky. It’s a surprisingly compelling game, and well wroth picking up on console.




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