I love skyscrapers. I enjoy anything that feels powerful and highrises convey that feeling. But a lot of mundane activities happen inside those buildings. People have jobs. They clock in, clock out, and their days start all over again. Yet, someone is pulling the financial strings so they can exist inside that powerful looking building. And as much as the existence of these large towers fills me with awe, I’m more fascinated by the inner workings. Project Highrise aims to be that simulator. Your goal is to build the tallest highrise you possibly can, make money for yourself, keep your tenants happy, and attract outsiders to your building. It’s a simple premise but execution can be tough. You’ll start with a certain amount of money and depending on which difficulty you choose, you have to build the best highrise under the given, and fluctuating, economic circumstance.
First Impressions Video Preview
Scrape the sky.
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Will you choose to build wide and high? Will you split your buildings? Will you build an office skyscraper or luxury apartments? Project Highrise gives you the freedom to create what you want, how you want it, so long as you have the money to afford it. It’s looking to be an insightful glance into what it takes to run an actual highrise without making things too complicated.
In order to create your profitable tower, you need tenants. They are your bread and your butter. Once you’ve built the space for tenants to occupy, you can check who is interested in moving into your tower and see how much they’re willing to pay. But each tenant also comes with needs and expectations. For example, every tenant needs electricity. So you have to make sure your tower has an electric transformer and wiring going through that floor, but you have to keep in mind that’s an added expense. Other tenants may require water, so you have to make sure that’s supplied too. Tenants may expect specific services for their jobs, as well. Financial offices expect mail services and copy services. If you don’t have those, they will likely become unhappy and stop paying rent. As I played, I discovered finding tenants is very thoughtless, which is disappointing. Needs and wants aren’t based on the person, it’s based on the job, and each job type has the same needs and wants. The process turns into just clicking and throwing people in your building to increase your rent. Tenants become more complicated over time, however, though the same criticism applies to them. I hope this changes by release.
Tenants are your lifeline. Keep them happy!
To swoon those higher paying tenants, you need prestige. Once you have enough, you can build store space, restaurant space, and different offices. Those also range from small to large. Keep in mind, you can also build apartments of varying sizes, and tenants looking to move in also have their own needs and expectations. When you start considering everything everyone wants, it becomes costly fast. The economy also plays into how much money you’re racking in. If it’s a depression, tenants may not be satisfied with the rent they’re paying and will threaten to leave. You can lower their rent, leave it, or if you’re being a jerk, raise it. Will you let them leave to keep a rotation of tenants who will pay the optimal rent? Keep in mind that affects your prestige and could lock you out of higher paying tenants. You could lower their rents, though, but that could mean risking losing profits. You have to be able to make that decision and live with the consequence.
But when money gets tight, contracts from the city come in handy. These are challenges that encourage growth and ultimately get you more money. Accepting a contract advances you a little bit of cash and once you complete it, you earn the rest of the funds. The type of contracts you might sign vary from increasing the amount of workers in your building, the amount of people who visit, or proving that you can make a certain amount of money a day. I thought contracts were the most convincing reason to work towards building a highrise and making more money. And as I completed them and saw more people moving around my building, I wanted to keep increasing the amount of people. It’s fun to see the fruits of your decisions and how they’ve net you a profit.
Heatmaps allow you to see the positive and negative aspects of your building
As you add bigger offices, you also earn influence and buzz. With buzz, you work with media types to promote the shops and restaurants you have or allow ad campaigns in your building to decrease expenses so you can make even more profit. Influence allows you to work with the city in ways to expedite workflows in your building, make it look nicer, or negotiate modified zoning laws so you can make your tower taller or wider. Influence is probably the “game-iest” aspect of Project Highrise, unfortunately. There’s no political discussion, you just click what you want and you get it. But you’re still clued into what might be considered in creating a tower of this magnitude.
The menu shows mod support might be a thing
Project Highrise looks like it will support mods. There’s a menu option of mods but according to a post on the Steam discussion page about a month ago, Kasedo Games mentioned they aren’t sure if people are interested in that. But they are listening for feedback.
The system requirements for Project Highrise haven’t been posted yet but I’m running it on max settings on my mid-range machine. Judging by the look of it, anyone with a functioning computer and decent graphics card - even integrated ones - should be able to run this game.
The release date is currently set for Summer 2016.
After finishing a session, I wanted to keep playing. I kept thinking about ways to improve my tower design to maximize profits and keep my tenants happy. So I restarted. Once I learned more about what tenants wanted and made more mistakes, I restarted again. I wouldn’t feel this way if I didn’t have control over the happiness of tenants or if the systems were too simple. Thanks to that freedom, I can create the tower I want.
Sometimes you need to spend money to make money
My concerns with Project Highrise lies in the lack of tension. If you’re struggling to build a tower but you’re making small profits in a hurting economy, you can coast until the economy changes. Contracts don’t have to be fulfilled in a certain time limit (at least not on lower difficulties), and tenants seem too easy to please and generally very straight-forward. And if you’re not into the idea of making more money or building the highrise, the contracts aren’t enough of an incentive for bored players to build something remarkable.
Beyond that, as it is, I’m looking forward to Project Highrise. I missed out on SimTower, so I can’t attest to how great it is compared to that but for a person with little interest in business management sims, I am genuinely excited about this one and I think you should keep an eye out for it.
Most Anticipated Feature: I’m hoping mods make it into the game. I would love to see how people make this game closer to real life in some ways or make it more difficult, zany, or obnoxious. If the developers aren’t sure if mods would be a thing, they should probably take the old mantra “if you build it, they will come.”