Have You Played… Project Highrise?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

If you’ve ever played XCOM and wished you could spend more time building your antfarm base and less time watching your operatives die, Project Highrise [official site] might be the game for you.

I love building things in games. Not so much in real life, where constructing a bookshelf can take up my entire weekend given how cack-handed I am, but give me a game that lets me build cities or kingdoms or spaceships, and I’ll usually have a blast. It’s not so much the actual construction, in terms of sticking pieces together in a Nuts and Bolts style, it’s more the management of a constructed thing. The machinery of Factorio makes me happy and the cities of Skylines are happy places for me.

When it comes to construction, the more familiar a thing is, the more likely I am to enjoy it. I suspect that’s true for many people, and goes some way to explaining the popularity of Car Mechanic Simulator. Sure, you’re not actually building the cars, but you’re de- and reconstructing, and fiddling with things you might recognise form the real world. There’s comfort in that, and satisfaction.

I find Project Highrise similarly satisfying. I’ve lived in apartment blocks, I’ve stayed in many hotels, and I’ve worked in high-rise office buildings. Highrise lets me build and manage all of those things, and there’s a joy in making everything tick over just right, and in observing the finely tuned machine that is your new tower.

It’s the new SimTower I wanted for so long and while it hasn’t occupied my attention in the same way that Skylines has since release, Highrise is a splendid thing.


  1. dontnormally says:

    Is it actually better than Yoot Tower?

    • demicanadian says:

      I have no idea what “Yoot Tower” is (will google in a sec) but my first thought was “Yog-Sotower” – a game where you’re building a tower in the glory of Yog-Sothoth!
      Hmm… must write this down for next game jam.

      • ezelkow1 says:

        Its the unofficial sequel to simtower. It was created in japan so hence the non-official thing since it wasnt maxis, but it had all the improvements people wanted. You can still find it on various sites and its even been ported to ios

        • Canadave says:

          For what it’s worth, Yoot Tower was the official sequel to SimTower, mostly. Both games were developed in Japan by Yoot Saito, where they were known as The Tower and The Tower II. The difference was that Maxis published the first game, but by the time the second game came out in 1998, Maxis had been bought out by EA so the game ended up being published by Sega internationally.

    • satsui says:

      Not at all. In fact, I wouldn’t really compare them either. They’re different. Yes, they’re both tower building games, but Highrise’s focus on how they’re built is different. The biggest difference to me is elevator management. Yoot/Sim Tower had a strong strategic focus on elevators, whereas Highrise doesn’t take them into account.

      The other thing that separates them is that in Highrise you control basic services (i.e. copying/print machines) and utilities (phone lines, electricity). While utilities add more stuff to the game, they don’t add any value to it. Rather, they’re just a waste.

      Yoot/Sim Tower had a better management feel to it where you always had to address something.

      Regardless, it’s a fun game and I recommend it. If you’re looking for a Yoot Tower reboot, then this isn’t it.

  2. samsharp99 says:

    Seems like an odd choice for a ‘Have You Played’ considering it only came out last year (I know they’ve covered some recently released games before…) and I found the game itself to be fairly disappointing as it came nowhere close to scratching that itch that SimTower did back when I was a kid.

    Project Highrise seemed like it was more suited to a mobile game.

    I’ll have to check out Yoot Tower though as it seems that one went completely past me (I guess as a fairly obscure japanese release).

  3. poliovaccine says:

    Yeah Project Highrise just felt distinctly uncreative compared to both my rose-tinted memories of SimTower and also my more recent experience with Yoot Tower. Yoot’s the one to go with, if not outright sticking with the original. God, those little silhouettes were so damned evocative to me as a kid! I actually liked that they were flatly dark and undetailed, cus you could blur your eyes and see your thriving tower exactly as an ant farm (which I also had, as well as a tadpole jar and a venus fly trap plant, cus I was that kind of little kid haha). The appeal was obvious to me, even if the eventual implications of conflating humans with insects in my young worldview were not haha.

  4. dsch says:

    Not like Sim Tower at all. There is none of the challenge of managing an elevator system and traffic. Rather than offering more interesting problems as you build like Sim Tower, it simply offers more: more services and more requirements that don’t increase complexity at all. It’s a glorified clicker game.

    • Doug Exeter says:

      Yeah this unfortunatly. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a glorified clicker game but it is pretty boring after the first few hours. It feels lifeless. I’d be interested to see what they could do with a sequel.