Project Highrise: Architect's Edition (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Chris Leebody 21.01.2019

Review for Project Highrise: Architect

As tower simulations go, the last great example of one was back in the glory days of Maxis and SimTower. Widely praised at the time, it altered the traditional format of SimCity from a sprawling town-planning sim, to one that was much more intimate. Project Highrise initially debuted on PC back in 2016, and was met with plenty of positivity for recapturing some of the past's old magic. Now, taking advantage of the Switch, the team have packaged together all the released DLC into one neat box, with the Architect Edition coming to consoles generally. This includes the Las Vegas hotels, Tokyo apartments and more; including more than 25 specific scenarios to complete, as well as a freeform sandbox mode.

With any simulation title, one of the most important aspects and the one that gets things off to a positive start is usually the tutorial. There is a lot to learn here, and a surprising amount of depth involved in everything: from the requirements needed for tenants, their happiness level and demands for facilities, the rent they are being charged, and so much more. Pleasingly the tutorial is broken down into six sections that tackle some of the most pressing concerns with getting started in building construction. They are not too laborious, nor too complicated - simply, they just give clear information on what to do.

This approach is a welcome one, and while many times the tool-tips are filled with "you'll learn more on the job" type notes, it is true that trial and error is very much the approach that SomaSim is encouraging. It's a good sense of responsibility to place into the hands of players. Getting into the actual gameplay, then, the starting point for most will probably be the bespoke scenarios that have been put together. They challenge all aspects of planning with lots of constraints from budgetary to simply the amount of space available to build.

Screenshot for Project Highrise: Architect's Edition on Nintendo Switch

What is cool is that each scenario has a little bit of context built into it as to why these things are happening, such as the collapse of the world economy from the depression, or the closure of a major factory that is having a huge impact on the local community. These might seem like small things, but they give more meaning to what could initially seem like cookie-cutter challenges. With that said, it does seem like there was potentially more room to add some further types of missions. Many of the themes are shared across at least some of the 29 scenarios, albeit thanks to the presence of the included DLC, at least there is a good amount of variety in location backdrop and building style.

However, the lack of variety in some of the missions does feed into one of the first major issues that Project Highrise has; this being the lack of random events to spice up the gameplay. Whilst back in the day SimTower had things like terrorists that could attack the building, and of course SimCity had a wide variety of random encounters, everything from fire and tornadoes to alien invasion; unfortunately Project Highrise does not.

Screenshot for Project Highrise: Architect's Edition on Nintendo Switch

What this effectively means is that, once the building is up and running and self-sufficient, there is little threat. It is then easy just to sit back and watch the money roll in, and keep expanding and expanding. It is definitely a problem that impacts on the life expectancy of the game, and it would be something that potentially infuriates the die-hard sim community. With all that said however, the point of getting to full self-sufficiency is thankfully not an easy task. SomaSim has done a good job in really layering on the various aspects of strategy that one needs to consider when planning the layout of building.

It's tempting to simply stack up floors and floors of office space quickly in order to try and plot a quick route to big cash-flows. This trap is an easy one to fall into, and those who'll do that will soon discover that with the need to connect all the utilities together throughout the building, it is necessary to take a more patient approach. Indeed, alongside the basic tenants of money flow in the building, there is plenty more to consider with the individual needs of every business and occupant needing to be taken into account. They have their own grievances, from the rent charges, the trash facilities, how many shops there are, or even what kind of paintings there are in the building lobby.

Screenshot for Project Highrise: Architect's Edition on Nintendo Switch

This balancing act will do wonders to capture the hearts and, frankly, the addictions of those who are such great fans of this genre. When things start to ramp up from a small, to medium, to huge building, juggling priorities while taking care of the mundane things is a manic and exciting process. It would be tempting to say that without the DLC, Project Highrise would be lacking in content a little. However, the additions these bring add a lot in terms of variety and the types of buildings that can be shaped. The Las Vegas one particularly does this by introducing entire hotel themed constructions. Luxury suites as well as casinos and full concert venues are just some of the ways to gain some extra income and they also look really exciting on screen as well.

In fact, generally the art-style is pretty and has an almost retro, picture-book style. It is obviously entirely in 2D, but this means that it is incredibly easy to navigate on the Switch. The controls on Switch are very well done, and make it a breeze to play. What maybe isn't quite so well done is the general UI around the screen. There are a lot of menus hidden away behind several buttons, and these expand further and further. It is fair to say it can get cluttered at times, and playing undocked is not the most pleasant way to experience the game. With that said, a PC port built for mouse and keyboard on console is always going to require some compromise, and this is it. Despite that, no one can complain about the general performance on Switch which is perfectly smooth.

Screenshot for Project Highrise: Architect's Edition on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Project Highrise: Architect's Edition is a great overall package for any sim fan to enjoy. Thanks to the DLC, there is a lot of content here to enjoy, and a really addicting experience to have. The scenarios could be a little more varied, but they all have their own set of unique challenges to overcome - not to mention, for those that prefer, the sandbox mode allows players to enjoy building any way they want. Playing on the Switch is generally a good experience, albeit the UI can pose some challenges to clarity on the screen, particularly in undocked mode. This is a title to pick up, though, and is sure to scratch the simulation itch for so many.

Developer

SomaSim

Publisher

Kalypso

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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