Project Highrise isn’t just your average office management/simulation game. The best part about the game is that the system’s within the game are very simple to understand in the beginning.
But as you progress in the game, the same simple systems evolve into challenging ones and present the player some really complex problems.
All of this and a lot more, is what makes Project Highrise a really fun micromanaging video game. For the most part.
If you thought that a building was just a structure with lots of rooms then Project Highrise will certainly change your mind.
The buildings in Project Highrise aren’t just spaces for the workers to work in. They are living, breathing machines.
Each of these machines contains thousands of working parts and each of those parts works with other parts in order to create a functional 2D environment that is filled with workers, places, and stuff.
The game allows you to craft systems very smoothly and most of all, in the more advanced stages of the game, these same systems become self-sufficient.
The most compelling part of the game is also when it allows players to build huge systems, which have systems within systems, from scratch.
In other words, Project Highrise will push you to the limit if you want to succeed in this management sim game.
But, no game is made perfect. In the case of Project Highrise, the most obvious negative point is the lack of personality in the game.
The game requires you to invest a huge amount of time to build big, autonomous skyscrapers. Not to mention that you’ll need every ounce of willpower and patience if you want to get ahead in Project Highrise.
Did we mention the part where the player has to plan way ahead while building these structures in order to avoid running into unsolvable problems later on?
Project Highrise does a pretty good job of immersing the player completely in its environment. Players have the option of completing ten enthralling goal-based in-game scenarios and also have a sandbox mode where the players have all the freedom in the world to experiment as much as they want.
The sandbox mode’s difficulty level is also adjustable and because of that, the game manages to stay interesting even after the first few hours have long passed.
But if you can handle the first few hours of learning some tough and new gameplay mechanics than Project Highrise can be pretty fast-paced and welcoming in the middle stages as well.
Project Highrise allows players to navigate the game’s many construction options with ease as the menus are quite intuitive and simple to understand.
You don’t need to click twenty or thirty times (or hold the mouse button to select an option?) if you want to create a partition in your building of section off a pre-existing space for some other purpose.
Perhaps, it should also be mentioned that you’ll start off with a building or two in Project Highrise but you’ll soon realize that you’ll actually be in control of a huge city block instead of just a small office building.
Players in Project Highrise will also have the option of inserting new offices, stores, restaurants and apartments in their buildings.
And one of most enjoyable experiences of the game comes when you try to build several floors or spaces at the same time and then make use of the fast-forward button to watch your hard-working construction workers build it all together while your eyes are glued to the screen in amazement.
As mentioned before, Project Highrise may feel quite easy to some players because the initial phases of the game don’t require you to plan ahead.
You’ll start off with a small building that will nicely fit your display screen while zoomed-in. In the beginning, you’ll also be able to watch all the happenings inside your building without having to scroll.
And at these moments, you might think to yourself that this Project Highrise management game isn’t that hard to manage after all.
But that’s when the game will start to increase the difficulty level by offering you more optional contracts.
And these contracts become more realistic as the player progresses further in the game. In other words, your “jobs” will become increasingly difficult.
In a relatively short amount of time, you’ll reach a building population of 100 and not along after, will hit 10 studio apartments.
But the game will also reward you for completing these demanding objects with a ton of quick cash and some extra features that will allow you to establish a nice workflow.
And that’s where Project Highrise manages to strike the almost-perfect balance between increasing difficulty and more rewards.
Most players will be able to find themselves in the uncomfortable position of making more money while working harder, pretty quickly in Project Highrise.
Whether that’s a good thing or bad, is really up to the player’s attitude towards management games.
Project Highrise also distinguishes itself by allowing players to do more than just building and designing their new offices or apartments.
The game gives you more depth by assigning different roles to different areas of your building. For example, if you want to make more income from rents then the game requires you to bring in new tenants.
Or if you want to increase the population size your building, the game requires you to build more rooms for tenants. That, in turn, allows businesses to generate more money because of the increase in the number of shoppers.
Project Highrise takes it to the next level by imposing other conditions on the player. You can’t just build more apartments to increase your population and increase your income.
You’ll have to meet several requirements before each of your building space becomes a successful operation.
In other words, the game rewards and punishes you for each and every decision you make.
If you want to attract more tenants to your building, you’ll not only have to make more rooms but will also have to ensure that those new rooms are properly wired up with electricity and have the necessary plumbing installed.
Not only that, but you’ll also need to ensure that the new rooms are connected to a working phone line, cable and a gas connection if needed
If that wasn’t enough detail already then you’ll be glad to know that sometimes the game forces you to go underground and build some supplementary gas delivery systems, switchboards, water meters, transformers and some transceivers as well.
If you don’t complete these tasks then the game won’t allow you to increase the number of rooms you can power and operate.
Hence, Project Highrise always pushes players to provide more auxiliary services when players want to increase their building’s population by building more rooms.
And did we mention that you’ll also need to build utility closets on every floor of your building?
All of this might sound a lot to some of you but what you need to remember is that all of these tasks can be accomplished with the click of a single button.
Well, not literally a single button since you still have to open up the utilities menu and then drag the mouse to construct a vast network of pipes and cables around all your rooms.
In other words, you’ll spend quite a bit of time in the utilities section because it’s not just something you’ll do on the side. The utilities section is an entirely detached world that requires the player to carefully manage the financials of laying out the utilities across all rooms and buildings.
Player’s will need to give due consideration to a lot of factors simultaneously and there will be times when Project Highrise will seem like a puzzle game rather than a management game.
Though there is a lot to be desired on the visual aspects of the game. Project Highrise sometimes feels like a soulless game because of how it looks and feels most of the time.
The game will give off a retro 80s vibe and it does work for the most part as all objects in the game look pretty sleek, colorful and well defined.
Most of the rooms and characters do appear distinct even when everything starts to clutter because of increased population and number of buildings.
But even the sharp visuals, Project Highrise’s style seems to lack personality, energy or warmth to your huge skyscrapers.
So Should I Play or Not?
Make no mistake, Project Highrise is a game that puts a lot of care and thought into functions. But sadly, doesn’t give the same consideration to the form of those functions.
It is simple and fast-paced, at least in the beginning, and does a good job of training the newcomers for the much more complex and difficult tasks that come later in the game when the player has built some huge and highly developed skyscrapers.
The game continues to provide fun elements to the players from the early stages to the advanced ones but sometimes balances that with some frustrating strategy elements.
Project Highrise also does a decent job of rewarding players for their time and effort. The only problem is that the game doesn’t do enough to put more character into its well-built systems.