This review is for Project Highrise plus the available DLC (Las Vegas, Miami Malls and Tokyo Towers). I purchased this game as a bundle on a Steam sale which included the available DLC and the base game Project Highrise.
Contrary to what I have read, Project Highrise in my opinion is not much like the old 1990’s Sim Tower. Yes, you can build a tall building and yes there are animated people walking around and yes there are offices, hotels, restaurants and apartments but for me that is as close as those two games get to being the same. I consider Project Highrise more in line with a city builder such as Cities Skylines because of the required planning and management aspects to it.
Tutorials are Helpful
For me there has been a slight learning curve to discovering the game’s mechanics. The included tutorials are extremely helpful although they only scratch the surface for how the game operates. Playing with unlimited resources I found has given me the best experience and the most fun in learning the game.
DLC Adds Variety to Game
As of this writing, I have not played Project Highrise (PH) without the DLC but as far as I can tell, the added DLC (Las Vegas, Miami Malls, and Tokyo Towers) are welcome (essential?) additions in making PH an enjoyable experience. The DLC gives the game depth and variety with its added hotel building expansion which includes casinos, stores, art galleries, event venues, in addition to apartments, office and multi-level lobbies. Who doesn’t want to add stores, hotels, casinos and event venues to their tower? Get it all with a Steam sale and you can’t go wrong.
Additional note about DLC (Las Vegas, Miami Malls and Tokyo Towers): As catchy or flashy as the DLC titles may sound, their function is simply generic in the game. What I mean is the Las Vegas DLC adds generic hotels, casinos, and event venues as options to PH (all things one might see in Las Vegas). The Miami Malls expansion adds generic mall related spaces such as mall security, demo booths, or a mall directory with a variety of stores to choose from. Tokyo Towers adds a generic Japanese flare to apartments, art, and lobbies within the game.
Choose the kind of buildings you wish to create
In Project Highrise you get to choose the direction you want to take your building beside just up, whether it be by adding hotels, apartments, stores, businesses or a combination of all of these (must have the DLC). It’s up to you (mostly) because you get to choose the types of tenants who will make up your tower. (This is different from Sim Tower where in that game I believe the specific types of food eateries, restaurants and establishments were randomly chosen for you.) PH gives you much greater control and variety in who will move into your building. (A pizza place or a Mexican restaurant? A pet store or an electronics store? You get to decide from a list of choices.) Again, this is why I highly recommend the additional DLC.
Graphics and Sound
Both the graphics and sound of PH are decent but are nothing earth shattering. The game could do more with additional animations and sound effects which would add a little more vibrancy to the game.
Unlimited Money and Resources Game-play Option
In the main menu, there is an unlimited money feature which allows for more creative and faster building from the start. In my opinion, this feature alone makes the game worth a purchase. However, it’s important to note that even with the unlimited money and resources option enabled, not all in-game building options will be available at the start (although plenty will be). This applies to things like 2 floor apartments, large luxury apartments, large hotel suites, casinos, large offices, metro transit, etc. (See Your Tenants can be needy people below.)
Not to fret though because having the extra money, prestige, buzz, and influence available are also important for greater possibilities to growing your building faster, bringing in consultants, fulfilling contracts and opening up a variety of future tenants.
Depth of Gameplay
Consultants are an essential part of PH and add an enormous amount of depth to the game. With influence the player can add consultant offices which in turn will open up more available options for constructing the perfect building. There are four types of consultant offices and tracks to choose from: Aesthetics, Politics, Operations and Tourism. Aesthetics pertain to art, sculptures and galleries in your building and also to its general appearance. Politics consultants lift some limitations and codes on building heights and will allow for public transportation. Operations pertain to the inner workings and maintenance of your building such as the number of workers available and the speed at which they build. The Tourism consultants open up the building to allow event venues, hotels and the construction of casinos.
Buzz allows for campaigns or ad’s to be placed to bring in more people to your tower, lower the costs of building materials or improve the overall moral of office workers among other things.
Prestige stars reflect the level of the good in your building and the happiness (or sadness) of your tenants and visitors. You gain and lose prestige stars by forming various actions in game or allocating space for specific tenants. Unhappy tenants and other factors can lower your Prestige level (the number of stars you have).
Project Highrise features optional contracts which are basically a checklist of goals and achievements you can obtain depending on the particular deal or contract you sign. For example, one contract might be to bring in a specific number of people into your tower (grow your population). There is no time limit to complete this task and when your tower reaches that number in population as specified in the contract, you will receive a cash reward for completing the contract. Note: Fulfilling contracts help build your wealth faster especially if you are not playing with unlimited resources
Your Tenants can be needy people
Tenants who you might wish to occupy a space in your tower will have needs or requirements that must be met before they can be placed in your building. Some have few needs like electricity and water while others have many.
This is very important in understanding who can move in immediately and who will have to wait. For example, a luxury two-bedroom apartment might need special cleaning services, handyman services, trash pick-up and more variety of restaurants and cafes placed in your building before a luxury apartment can be placed in your building. IMO the necessity to check these needs of prospective tenants adds a great deal of depth to the game-play. For some players, meeting these needs might become frustrating but for me it added an awesome element of realism and depth to the game.
Prestige stars are also necessary in order to bring in specific tenants.
A little bit like SimCity or Cities Skylines
Offices, stores, apartments, hotel rooms and other selected tenants need electricity to run and be happy. Some of these tenants also need water, a phone line, cable TV or Air Conditioning (hotels). Therefore as you might guess, planning and setting up your buildings infrastructure is important in Project Highrise.
Unlike Sim Tower, elevators in PH do not need to be monitored for capacity and usage times. However, their location does matter depending on what type of tenant you choose to locate nearby. Some businesses or apartments for example may not be happy if placed next to the elevators.
In addition, smells, noise levels etc, must be monitored to keep your tower dwellers happy.
Lots of Space
One awesome thing I love about Project Highrise is the amount of space you have available to build your tower or towers. The player is actually given a few options in the main menu. There is Standard, Narrow, Short and Wide or Extra Large. I found the Extra Large option to be a wonderful amount of space to build a huge (or spread-out) tower or even multiple ones! Of course, if you choose the smaller play areas (which aren’t that small at all), the option to expand your building opens up with a building permit which you can obtain by adding influence and the proper consultant offices!
Room for improvement
Like many games which are good, Project Highrise also has room for improvement.
Poor in-game music
PH lacks music options during game-play. In fact there is only soundtrack available and IMO was a poor choice for this game. Unless you enjoy repetitive elevator music, you may agree. However, allowing a music style selector (or mod) available would greatly enhance the music options. Fortunately, the music can be turned off completely.
More animations and visuals to enhance the game quality
The current animations and sound effects in the game are fine but having additional animations, visuals and sound effects would further enhance the game’s overall quality, likeability and charm. For example in the pet store, it would be wonderful if the cat and dog moved and we saw people actually purchase items from the stores or sit down and eat at the restaurants rather than just stand or walk through them. (Yes, there is a very large hamburger that appears on the tables but I didn’t always see anybody eating them.)
Store names don’t always match the in-game graphical representation
Now I realize this is a game and not to be taken too seriously but I still noticed when the model train store had dolls in it instead of expected model trains and that some restaurants look eerily similar.
Why not display all tenant needs and requirements from the categories menu?
The game could do better job at how it displays the requirements and needs for tenants in general. Currently (as far as I can tell) the player must first allocate tenant space (at no cost) in order to view the needs of that prospective tenant only to find you need to delete that space because your tower doesn’t yet fulfill those requirements. There should be a way of displaying the needs of tenants from the categories or selection menu before anything is placed in the building. While it doesn’t cost anything to allocate the space, it is an unnecessary extra step the developers might want to consider eliminating to make the game-play less tedious.
A faster third speed would be nice
Waiting for things to develop can be a looonnng wait. The current speeds available are normal and fast. Sometimes fast isn’t quite fast enough.
Escalators and Parking Spaces
Wish there were escalators and parking spaces. Some two story malls stores include an escalator already but it would great to be able to add one in addition to the elevators and stairs. Where are the parking spaces for cars to park? This little nugget was part of Sim Tower and I miss it.
A big picture view
When your tower gets big sometimes it can be difficult to spot what is making someone upset in your building and it can be especially tedious to search for specific tenants or that elusive recycling bin or eatery to check its stats. Having a view available which displays all tenants located in your building each broken into categories with specific stats, might go a long way to making them easier to find especially when something goes wrong.
My Rating of Project Highrise
Overall, I would highly recommend this game especially if you enjoy city builders and a Sim Tower style game. My nine-year-old daughter can also attest to the fun factor this game provides.
Get the game plus DLC in a bundle on a Steam sale for $10-$15 and it’s a great deal.
At the 10 dollar price point, my rating for Project Highrise (with DLC) is 4 stars (out of 5)
Have you played Project Highrise? Did you like it? Dislike it? Let me know what you think of the game in the comments below.
Image source is my own in game screen capture