App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, management games lend themselves amazingly well to mobile, at least when they’re done right. When not overburdened with free-to-play systems or overly streamlined, management sims can provide satisfying depth while allowing you to navigate their menus and engage with their layers of systems with the tap of a finger. Project Highrise does exactly this, and delivers in spades.
Project Highrise harkens back a bit to the days where Maxis was pumping out different takes on its original hit SimCity. In fact, Project Highrise somewhat resembles SimTower in the sense that your purview in the game at any given time is a single building that you must build up, maintain, and expand to ensure you keep turning a profit.
At first, this task seems simple enough—build a few floors, throw in some apartments, and wait for the money to flow in. Project Highrise doesn’t let you off so easy though. Your tenants have basic needs for things like utilities that you also need to manage, but—more importantly—they also have desires, which can create some of the biggest wrinkles in your whole operation.
There are two primary modes to Project Highrise. In the first mode, also known as Sandbox Mode, you are free to build your building any way you wish. You just pick a difficulty, a lot size, and go. Along the way, you can pick up contracts or take out loans to help give you things to work toward outside of simply building a sustainable tower, but otherwise you have to lean on your own creativity to give you direction.
The other mode is a Scenario Mode, where you’re given much more specific tasks to achieve given certain constraints. In some, you’ll be working with odd lot sizes that are only zoned for residential use, or you might yourself inheriting an old building to rehab, but with a limited set of permits to build certain things because of the city’s poor experiences in the past with developers.
Sky’s the limit
No matter which mode you’re playing, it’s the attention-to-detail in Project Highrise that keeps you there working on your developments. In addition to creating efficient uses of space, you also need to consider that people in these spaces appreciate amenities, dislike if their spaces are too loud, and can’t run businesses successfully if there aren’t enough tenants coming into the building to spend money.
As soon as you feel like you’ve solved all of your problems in Project Highrise, new ones arise to keep you on your toes, and it’s this dynamic that keeps your projects constantly interesting and challenging. Sometimes, even when you comb through the game’s elaborate menu system to find the exact unit or service to fix your problem, you might not be in a position to deploy that ready-made solution instantly. Instead, you might just have to bumble your way through to some semblance of stability, which usually results in the creation of buildings that are unique and full of character. This might not sound ideal, but you can't help but feel an odd sense of satisfaction in finding creative workarounds in Project Highrise to keep yourself in business.
The bottom line
Despite its clean presentation, Project Highrise is a bit of messy management game, and I mean that in the best possible way. You don’t just get to minmax your way into huge profits that let you build whatever you want. There are real challenges here, and ones that you have to be smart about solving. This is all to say that Project Highrise is a pretty amazing game, and it’s only made better in a mobile package. Pick this one up straight away.