Review: Project Highrise

By Matt Skidmore 16 Apr 2018 0

Review: Project Highrise

Released 11 Apr 2018

Developer: Kalypso Media
Genre: Simulation
Available from:
App Store
Google Play
Reviewed on: iPad Pro

In 1994 Trump World Tower (once the world's tallest residential building) was just a glint in the eye of a certain ambitious property developer. Back then, Mr Trump was making a guest appearance in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but hardly anyone noticed, as we were all too busy playing SimTower. Well, all of us that still remember the days of floppy disks and Window 3.1, anyway. SimTower may not have been an official sequel to SimCity, but it certainly clicked the same buttons. The big difference here is that the aim is to expand upwards rather than outwards. Let us fast-forward a quarter of a century, to a time when some of us have expanded outwards a little more than we may have wished. These days, no one can miss President Trump's daily TV appearances, but Kalypose Media & Project Highrise has rushed to the rescue, giving us something else to occupy our minds.

As you may have surmised Project Highrise feels like the spiritual successor to SimTower. You fill your building with offices, apartments, restaurants and shops, adding extra floors as you go. However, you also need to ensure that your building has access to basic utilities such as electricity supplies and telephone lines. This is achieved by installing cables and building junction boxes, generators and switchboards. The next step is to persuade businesses to move into your flashy new creation and start paying rent. Unfortunately, things are never that simple as different businesses have their own specific requirements such as a copy department or an onsite courier service.


There are other concerns too; as your building grows in both height and prestige, stairs are no longer practicable, so you will need to build elevators. However, elevators break, so you will also need a maintenance department on hand. Indeed, all your decisions are interlinked in this realistic and logical way. Do not forget the aesthetics, employing consultants to spruce up your building and installing a fancy statue in your lobby is sure to get people talking and increase footfall. This will eventually generate enough buzz to enable you to launch media campaigns.

As if you haven’t already got enough on your plate you also need to keep an eye on the upkeep of your building. An untended apartment can quickly look like the scene of a particularly rowdy student party. To stop your creation descending into a slum you will need to send in your staff to make good and perform a quick makeover.

New Tenants

Project Highrise presents the player with new features and opportunities at just the right pace, maintaining interest without becoming overwhelming. Before you know it, your empire will be replacing tiny offices and mini-marts with two-floor department stores, luxurious loft apartments and gourmet restaurants. The game offers a generous amount of content, with a sandbox mode and numerous scenarios. If you want more, there are an array of extras to purchase. These include three entirely new areas with their own set of challenges; the West Loop features sleek offices and skyscrapers, North Side has luxury apartment buildings, whilst the South Loop is all about hotels, resorts and entertainment. There is also a selection of cosmetic content, with such items as Japanese and Christmas themes on offer.


This is not an easy game to grasp, it requires a significant time investment and close scrutiny of the six excellent tutorials before leaping into the action. There are so many overlays and nestled menus that navigation can initially feel overwhelming. There is even a pleasingly retro computer with an impressive 8KB of memory churning away in the basement. This produces reports on every conceivable aspect of your building. Thankfully, everything is arranged logically and thoughtful shortcuts help to speed up play.

Graphics are clean and clear and loading times speedy, to such an extent that it is sometimes impossible to read the inspiring quotes that appear on the loading screens. I am certainly not going to complain about fast loading times, but I have encountered a few other niggles. Laying cables across an entire floor can be a bit fiddly and sometimes pop up windows can get in the way of your construction work. Also, the slide bar used to determine rent charges is unresponsive and doesn’t work at all well on touchscreen devices.

Extra Content

My Biggest issue with Project Highrise is that the old adage 'money makes money' has never rung truer. Initially, you will struggle to get your enterprise off the ground, money will be tight and careful management will be needed. The game requires foresight as you plan for the future, for instance, setting aside space for a more powerful electricity generator. This can make things a little frustrating when you start playing, as you have no idea what services and utilities are going to become available and the space that you will need. You can always bulldoze your previous constructions, but the waste of money is a bitter pill to swallow. Get past these early challenges and things become much easier. Instead of sweating over your finances and blueprints, you will more likely find yourself falling into a robotic cycle of adding a new floor, laying down utilities and attracting new customers. The different scenarios attempt to add variety, but it is a fairly rigid theme that cannot really be stretched in too many directions.

Like the best games of its ilk, Project Highrise does a great job of instilling the feeling of a real living and breathing entity. As the building reaches for the sky you get a real feel for the passing of time. At 8:30 office employees will begin to stream, some grabbing a breakfast bagel on the way to their office. Come lunchtime your eateries will be thriving and your retail outlets busy with customers spending their hard-earned cash. Finally, everyone heads home and by the small hours, it is just you and the maintenance crews working away to ensure that everything will be in place, for the whole process to begin again.

An impressive and captivating simulation that will eat up hour after hour of your spare time.

Review: Project Highrise

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