Have you ever considered developing a commercial building? I have. I've seen skyscrapers sell for peanuts and dreamed of renting out most of the building to cover my expenses and keeping a couple of floors at the top as my private home, office, and personal workshop. I mean, come on... Avengers tower? The Baxter building? Oscorp Tower? That's gotta be an amazing setup, am I right?
Sadly, there's a reason that skyscrapers can end up on the market for a price less than a decent house in a good neighborhood. The larger the building, the trickier it is to juggle the demands of keeping tenants, keeping tenants happy, keeping the mechanicals running smoothly, providing the additional services that your tenants expect and actually turning a profit. Even if you manage to do everything but the last item in that list, you're going to find yourself losing money and, eventually, you're bankrupt. That's when those oh-so-attractive bankruptcy sales pop up. For pennies on the dollar, you can scoop up... a mess. Buyer beware.
A Clean Start:
Hey, but don't worry... you're not investing your life savings or trying to turn a development project around, here. Project Highrise is just a game - and you are starting from scratch. If your building fails, it's going to be due to your choices, not because a previous builder used asbestos and you're stuck with it.
You start with a very modest two story building with a single basement level, some money (which varies with difficulty level) and a dream. You'll need to add infrastructure, by clicking where to add additional floor space and waiting for your crew to finish building it, select what you want it built out as, then find a tenant of that type to fill the space. Different types of tenants have different types of requirements. Most, but not all, need electricity. Some need water, others need gas or cable. A Sports Bar, for example, might need all of the above. You'll need to provide these utilities to the location before they attempt to open, or they'll be dead-in-the-water and, worse yet, unhappy. In Project Highrise, as in real life, unhappy tenants have a tendency to leave.
Planning, Planning, Planning:
The secret to success is, apparently, planning. Each tenant has its own requirements. Some of these are necessary to even be serviceable, while others are more like "preferences." For example, a residential unit needs electricity and water. The resident might prefer not to be near enough to smell the garbage bins on the same floor or the pizza place on the floor below and they might really not like the noise of a diner place on either side of their apartment. However, these are more preferences, and might be offset by other circumstances, if being located on a lower floor or right next to the elevator is also desirable. Further, everyone likes saving money, so you may be able to keep a tenant happy by lowering their rent.
Utilities are a vital resource to manage in Project Highrise. They come in through the basement and require a distribution closet on each floor to have access to those utilities on that floor. You will have to route these utilities from these distribution closets to the unit that requires the utility, paying by the foot, or per section, if you will. If you want to save some money on your infrastructure, you can locate units that need lots of utilities close to where you run your utilities, while putting units that only need electricity, for example, further from the utility closets. Then, run your utilities only where they need to go.
Like Ogres... Or Cakes:
Of course, I'm referring to layers. And, while a building can have several levels, I'm talking of the multiple layers of complexity. All of the above should be enough to illustrate that Project Highrise is no casual game. Project Highrise is a fairly in-depth simulation, allowing you to try your hand at developing a high-rise building in a city. In addition to meeting the infrastructural needs of your tenants, you'll have to worry about units becoming run down, requiring you to renovate them or cut your rate before your tenant moves out. You'll find yourself having to add water meters, electrical boxes and cable distributors. You'll also find that you can't attract larger residential units until you have "enough" varied stores and restaurants that serve dinner. You'll need to provide filing service before you can land that medical office and, just when you think you're doing well, you'll find that you've run out of file storage space and you'll have to build a second one. The larger your building gets and the more tenants you have, the larger your potential success... and the larger your potential failure.
To add yet another layer, you can provide space to various professionals, such as an architect or politician, and get paid in favors, instead of cash. Money is nice, but having a friend who can help you get approval to increase your floor limit from 40 floors to 80 floors can be much more valuable than some paltry rent. And getting a permit to build a transit stop under your building? Priceless!
Project Highrise is slated to release in Summer 2016. Look for a full review then.