Project Highrise is a skyscraper construction and management simulation game developed by SomaSim and published by Kasedo Games. The game plays very much like a city builder.
The Importance of Tutorials
Project Highrise is a game that is easy to dive into and find yourself lost in. There has been a myriad of streamers who got their hands on preview/review copy of the game and looked silly playing. As a result, the game’s Steam discussion forum has had many complaints from potential customers. They feel that the devs gave keys to the wrong people. Players who will dive in and stream for an hour or so and never play the game again. They feel that it makes the game look worse than it is. It’s difficult to argue with that.
I, however, have an admission to make. Although I have delayed my decision to stream this year I too was guilty of thinking I could jump straight into the game and play. I figured that everything important would be explained as I made my way along in the game. To my great dismay, it isn’t. It seems like I made an error in not spending the time playing the tutorials that have been thoughtfully implemented to teach you the fundamentals of gameplay. Consequently, and quite naturally I found myself, lost and ready to rage quit.
The tutorials are really well designed. I’m generally someone who avoids tutorials in order to play immediately. I don’t generally give much thought to them and race to get the good stuff. Consequently, it is rare for me to compliment them. This is a rare exception. Therefore, my number one protip for Project Highrise is to play through them. They take as little as fifteen minutes to complete but their impact on your overall experience is worth much more.
There are two game modes featured in the game. These modes are ‘scenarios’ and ‘new game.’
There is a total of ten scenarios at release. Three of them are available to be played from the beginning. The others require that you earn at least one medal in a given scenario. There are currently no scenarios that require anything more than a single medal.
The developers have done a very good job in considering, researching and implementing the scenarios for the game. They could have just bashed together some scenarios and called it a day. However, they have included some of the more historically significant buildings in the United States. As a result, this not only enables players to play the game but encourages them to make some research on the buildings that they are recreating.
There is potential for additional scenarios to be added to the game. This will come either through free updates (please) and DLC (again, please!) or through the incorporation of the Steam Workshop. This functionality is fortuitously a release feature.
Base Game Scenarios
- Neighborhood Revitalization: You must revitalize a once famous building to its former splendor. You are subsidies for floor and infrastructure construction.
- Lake Point Tower: Based on the famous tower in Chicago. You need to transform the building into shiny, new residential building.
- The Merchandise Mart: This is based on another famous building in Chicago. When it was opened in 1930 it was the world’s tallest building. Your job is to emulate its success and to do so dealing with a similar simulated economic climate.
- This Is Depressing: Your responsibility is to create a tower during the Great Depression. Loans are almost impossible to get but building and utility costs are much cheaper. The comparison this time around is New York’s Empire State Building.
- The Flatiron Project: A flatiron building is one that oddly shaped. It has a pointy shape. You need to make a tall building workable.
- Federal Center: You need to create a new government center with a limitation on the types of tenants. You receive a bonus of lower floor construction costs.
- Live/Work: You are responsible for creating a building where your tenants work in the same building that they live in. This makes for a difficult balancing act.
Project Rescue: You need to rescue a building whose former constructors fell into bankruptcy. It’s 40 stories tall and you need to complete the construction. The bonus is that the government will subsidize the costs of utilities closets and elevators.
- Troubled Waters: In this scenario, you must create a modern masterpiece to compliment the newly-built Civic Memorial Fountain.
- Urban Constraints: You are unable to create offices or expand your basement beyond its starting point. Utility meters and interfaces are fifty percent more expensive. Your objective is to make the plot profitable, populous and prestigious.
As inspired by the scenarios as I am, I was brought back to my Football Manager experiences. There are scenarios in those games in the form of challenges. However, I have always enjoyed choosing my favorite teams and seeing if I could take them to the top of the Champions League (Champions Cup). Therefore, while I certainly appreciate the scenarios offered within the game I am much more of a new game type of person. Thankfully, I found this mode to be quest driven.
Thankfully, I found this mode to be quest driven. This is because of the contract system. This system offers you the opportunity to sign contracts that ask you to meet certain criteria. This can be in the form of getting X number of population or X number of business or a certain number of various business types, etc. You can have multiple contracts out at once and get new ones as you complete them. The contract system always gives you something that you need to accomplish.
Project Highrise shines in the gameplay department. If you’re into management and city (building) building games then you should enjoy the game. There is great depth to the gameplay. The tiered systems work very well and will have you playing to unlock everything at all levels of the game. The game is incredibly challenging in so far as budgeting is concerned. It is very easy to overspend and out budget yourself. As a result, frugality is absolutely a rule of thumb.
Players must consider if they are capable of adding certain buildings. Players must understand that for every type of office, apartment or service there are multiple costs involved. These include the construction costs as well as utility costs. Consequently, it’s not just a case of putting a revenue maker into a position and raking in the income. Further, each type of office or apartment that you have different expectations that need to be met. Failure to meet their demands will see them become angry and threaten to leave.
There is a definite fun factor with the game as well. I never went into the game with great expectations in this regard. I knew that the game would be challenging and good but I wasn’t expecting fun. Therefore, the game has surprised me in this regard. I find the carrot and the stick manner of the contracts to be rewarding. This is where much of the fun is derived. The feeling that you’re always working towards both short term and long term goals spur you on to play further into the game.
Project Highrise: Extra Features & DLC
Project Highrise has 88 Steam achievements. It also drops trading cards.
New content: Since this review was published three DLC has been added to the game. This includes Las Vegas, Miami Malls, and Tokyo Towers. Each offers themed features and additional scenarios.
Project Highrise is one helluva building game. I can highly recommend it for lovers of simulation and management games. For others, this will be a game that you’ll undoubtedly want to give an opportunity to at some point. The $19.99 asking price is very reasonable considering the amount of playability that you can get out of it. However, it’s not too high to alienate those who may be a little timid to try it.
Note: This review was initially published on 10 September 2016. I have updated the extra features component of the review.