Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition fills a niche on the PlayStation Store as a return for the building simulator genre, following initial success on Steam in 2016. This sim however puts you in control of skyscraper development specifically, as opposed to traditional city sims. As the chief architect in charge of polluting the world’s skies with towering monstrosities, you can develop in any way you want, allowing an array of freedom for the player to develop not only the look of their creation, but also what facilities involved are most appealing and more importantly, most lucrative.
It can be initially overwhelming to see the vast array of gameplay settings and building options at your disposal. However, Project Highrise’s greatest strength is how manageable these all become and how easy it is to get going once you’ve found your feet. If you’re new to sim games, it’ll be pretty essential to tackle tutorial mode in order to acquaint yourself with the available tools and your tenant's needs. Fortunately, you won’t need seven years at an architecture university, as the simple and informative guide gets you up to speed quickly.
As this is the Architect’s Edition, there are a number of features previously reserved for DLC here, including alternative maps, like Las Vegas which added new features like casino building. You can choose between a selection of backdrops at the main menu as well as your difficulty level and the shape of the initial build you want to work on. In the higher difficulties, the game offers greater challenge with a weaker economy forcing you to take out loans, forcing you to be less blasé with your cash. Similarly, tenants will leave quicker and buildings will be more expensive, so it’s as much a game of financial management as it is designing a swanky build. The game focuses on the development of four key development types: office, residential, commercial, and hotel, each of which feel suitably unique and offer up variety that goes above just stacking up rooms. This opens the door of creative flexibility, as incorporating elements of each of these into your build becomes essential for later success, as your tenants expect variety.
Some features that make gameplay really smooth include a super duper helpful fast forward button that keeps the pace going at a decent rate and can be exploited once you’ve really got that dollar coming in fast. The endless mode also provides a great deal of fun, doing what it says on the tin; allowing you to build to your heart’s content, like an out of control game of Jenga. The reward of seeing business booming is what makes the game really enjoyable and the trial and error nature of seeing what works in different scenarios make the replay factor high. It can be a little clunky at times, as it adheres to its own formula, which can sometimes lead to some irritating penalisations and bulldozed builds taking you back to the drawing board. The art style is also a little lacking, opting for the block colours, Mad Men look for that corporate vibe, but doesn’t hugely stick the landing and comes off looking a tad bland.
Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition is a real success in the building sim genre. It’s easy application of a daunting set of tools and simple to understand, difficult to master gameplay make it a really fun experience. The variety of backdrops and modes make each pitch feel unique, but the real fun comes from the trial and error of trying out different builds and the pride of seeing your once little build growing into a skyscraper with four Casinos and several penthouses, making you thousands by the day. Though the look is dull and there are a few minor annoyances, that doesn’t take away from the stellar and smart game design that makes a repeat visit to this gem a guarantee.