Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition is a tower building simulator, where you manage all aspects of running a skyscraper, with all the bureaucracy that comes with it. Every system needs a good old simulation title to keep gamers busy, and with the Switch these types of games usually excel when played portably because they’re often the perfect time wasters. The question now is does this port reach the clouds, or does it not make it past the first floor?
Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition has a very simple concept that its entire gameplay model is based on, but achieving that goal won’t be easy. The idea is to create the most profitable skyscraper you can, but with each new floor you add more complications can arise. This game has one of the most in-depth systems of building that I have seen in a game in a long time. First you must build the infrastructure of the building, which includes creating the foundation to make sure the entire building is connected to the wiring and plumbing. Then you have to make the difficult decision of what is now going to occupy that new space. From insurance agencies all the way to medical offices, the game sports a crazy amount of options that allows you to build your tower with your own personal flair. And that is what I feel really makes this game shine. I very much loved trying out the near infinite combos of building types and seeing how they work together. One playthrough I created a large apartment complex, while on another I tried making a huge market building.
I quickly found out that this game was not afraid to punish you if you didn’t plan out your building complex and take your time crafting the recipe for a good Highrise. For many of my first buildings, the strategy I went with was to spend as much as I could on as many units as possible at the start of the game and hope it would turn a profit. But this soccer mom on Black Friday action plan always ended up biting me in the long run, as I had not planned out the daily expenses it took to build all those new offices and donut shops and keep them up and running. Slowly I had to devise a real outline if I planned on ever succeeding. This made the game so much more fun than just being a build-a-thon. It made me feel a sense of pride when after hours of trying to keep myself from drowning in debt, I ended up making more money than I was spending.
Project Highrise also contains a huge list of challenge scenarios that can test the skill of even the most veteran players. There are 29 in total and each has three major objectives, all of which you need to accomplish if you wish to get all of the medals for each scenario. Every scenario also boasts a creative reason for each objective, from bringing back an old supermarket during the Great Depression all the way to helping a city build a new federal building to retain workers. These missions will take you a good while to complete, especially if you plan on going for 100% completion on all of them.
What makes the Architects Edition of Project Highrise different from the original release is that it contains all of the DLC that was released over its lifespan. It contains four smaller content packs: Miami Malls, Tokyo Towers, London Life, and Brilliant Berlin, as well as the larger Las Vegas DLC pack. All of these add to the overall longevity of the game, as the extra customization gives it just that extra bit of flare it needs.
Though this game does so much many things very well, it does have one issue that was very hard to get over for the longest time. It can be summarized in two words: controller mapping. Project Highrise needs to use every button, but I question the decision to not allow any button remapping. The current setup ends up making navigating the menus of the game extremely difficult and unresponsive. The left joy cons analog is how you traverse all menus in the game, and it controls how you select where you build and place things in the game. The issue is that it can be very unresponsive sometimes, leading to selecting the wrong option or how you position what you are trying to build. Many times I had to demolish what I had just built since it got put in the wrong spot, and I would be lying if I said this didn’t occasionally get on my nerves. This could have all been avoided if the game had an option to remap your controller scheme, this way I would have been able to swap the controls of the left analog with the D-Pad and had a lock on feature for controlling. I didn’t get to try it on a Pro controller, but with just the Joy-Cons expect to have to remove and replace many rooms in your Highrise.
Another thing that would have been appreciated is a better tutorial system. The current one that is in the game has six parts and goes over the very basic concepts of the game, but I really feel that much of what I learned had to be done the hard way. The game really expects you to explore the menus yourself and kind of try different things to see how they work, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it does put a small damper on the experience when you go out on a limb on something you aren’t sure about and you end up hemorrhaging money because of it.
This title doesn’t do anything special when it comes to graphics, but it really doesn’t need to. It features nice little details in all the different shops and offices and all of the NPCs that travel about look great in their 2d forms. The UI is very organized and almost everything is where you really feel it should be. Occasionally I found myself searching for something and having a difficult time finding it, but generally it was just me just overlooking it by accident.
As for sound, the game has a very limited OST. But I feel SomaSim can justify this much better than I can. As a response to fans bringing up the lack of a diverse soundtrack, SomaSim responded with this. “[The] music in the game is not just a collection of songs that get played. It’s actually a dynamic mixing system that takes a number of recorded phrases, played on different kinds of instruments, and randomizes and mixes them in various ways depending on various factors (one example: brighter instrument play during the day, darker at night, etc).” Even so, the music is somewhat boring, although at the same time strangely soothing.
Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition is a very fun tower simulation that seized my attention for hours at a time without me realizing much time had even passed. The massive amount of creativity that you have while crafting your Highrise gives this game almost endless replayability and starting over is always a fun new adventure. It does have small issues with its controls and could have featured a better tutorial to give a better grasp on the gameplay, but those drawbacks are minor and often fall by the wayside the longer I played. This game has established its place in my go-to casual games list. It is very enjoyable and is definitely worth a purchase for simulation fans.
Project Highrise: Architect's Edition Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Project Highrise: Architect’s edition is one of the best simulation games I have ever played. With endless content and extremely fun gameplay, I can see many people who purchase this game sinking many hours into it, while enjoying every moment. I greatly recommend a purchase of this wildly fun game.
Austin Eastwood has been a gamer since childhood starting during the Playstation 2 era. He enjoys everything gaming, from JRPGs to competitive shooters. He also boasts his perfect competitive record in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, in which he won his first game against a friend and never played the game again.