Highrise City Review – Smart City Builder and Management Mix in the Test

In the Highrise City Test, we see a City-building Simulation Like in Cities Skylines, Combined With Build-up Strategy à la Anno 1800.

Highrise City Review
Smart City Builder and 
Management Mix in the Test
Highrise City Review
Smart City Builder and
Management Mix in the Test

In Highrise City we build cities like in SimCity or Cities: Skyline, but with resource management and trade, like in Anno. This new city builder mixes construction games with trade simulation and mayor management.

In this High Rise City review, you will get the full analysis of the game and its current state in a compact form and you can watch samples of the PC gameplay (German) of the new Early Access game in video or screenshots. The Highrise City release date was March 24th, 2022 for PC on Steam and GOG.

German Version:

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This post is available here as text, but also as a YouTube Video (German Voice-Over, English Subtitles). So you can choose how you like to enjoy it most.

Highrise City Review Video

German Voice-Over, many subtitles

Highrise City Review - Kluger City-Builder und Management Mix im Test [Deutsch-German, subtitles]

Highrise City Review – Intro

Hi there, here’s the Zap. In this Highrise City review, you get a little insight into the new city-building game with resource supply and trade, which just went into Early Access. I’ll tell you how it is played, what’s in it, and at the end, you’ll get a rating from me. But most of all, I want to give you all the info, so you can decide for yourself if you might enjoy the game.

The game is developed by Fourexo Entertainment and published by Deck13. Highrise City is the first project of this German studio. I received a free test key, my thanks for that. However, this should not affect my rating, as I always test all games with the thought in the back of my mind, how would I feel if I had paid full price.

Background – Early Access

Highrise City Review
Background - Early Access
Highrise City Review
Background – Early Access

Highrise City was released on March 24th, 2022 as a so-called Early Access version. So the game is not finished yet. There are still bugs, problems, and gaps in the design and gameplay. So if you expect a perfect game, you should rather wait a few more months and then take another look. The developers use the feedback, bug reports, suggestions, and ideas of the early players to further develop and improve the project, and thus adapt it even more to the wishes of the fans.

Highrise City is already quite extensive at this early stage, runs stable for the most part, and already has quite a lot of game content. It doesn’t feel like you’re just playing a demo version that will eventually or maybe never be finished. There are certainly negative examples of Early Access games around, but Highrise City is not one of them. The developers accept player feedback via Discord or Steam. And there have already been several patches after release to fix bugs and updates that brought new features.

Speaking of developers, Highrise City was conceived, developed, and programmed by a solo developer for several years. Only shortly before release, the indie project was supported by the German company Deck13, which is best known for The Surge 1 and 2. But for a few years now, Deck13 has also acted as a publisher for smaller studios. Through this collaboration, the game now has multiple programmers and also additional artists for models, sounds, and other content. This should certainly be good for the overall quality of further development.


Game Type – City Builder Build-up Strategy

Highrise City Review
City-Builder Build-up Strategy
Highrise City Review
City-Builder Build-up Strategy

Highrise City is clearly based on classics like the SimCity series. Of course, the top dog Cities: Skylines, which has been around for seven years, is also a source of inspiration for the developers. Visually alone, it already has plenty of similarities, but also in terms of gameplay, a lot is the same as you are used to from the popular genre giants.

First, you build roads, as you would expect, mostly in a grid. But in Highrise City you can also build them curved, crooked, and bent if you prefer. Then you build zones for inhabitants along these roads and supply them with water and electricity, so far, so familiar.

Unlike usual, there are only residential and office zones here. Industry, on the other hand, does not come into the city as a zone that then grows along fully automatically. Instead, we build all businesses specifically where we need them and where the raw materials are available. This results in much more complex gameplay than in Cities and SimCity.


Gameplay – City-Builder With Resources

Highrise City Gameplay
City-builder with resources
Highrise City Gameplay
City-builder with resources

Highrise City brings a special trick with it. Here you need, to build construction sites, in addition to the normal usual money also building material. Thus, it works partly similar to Anno 1800 or many real-time strategy titles. This is not the case with the City Builder role models, there only money is needed, and then the city grows almost by itself.

It starts with wood that we can only cut in the given forests and after a short time, we need clay pits and brick kilns. Then gradually we add iron, tools, steel ingots, glass, and many other resources without which our city cannot grow.

But we also need food for our residents. Fishermen and farms for fruits, vegetables, grain, and many other fruits must be built. And grain, for example, must first go through mills and bakers before it is considered food.

Since basic resources can usually only be mined in certain places, it is also necessary to provide transportation. For this purpose, there are transport companies that use trucks to pick up the goods, store them, and then deliver them to the processing plants again, if necessary.

Our residents also need all sorts of utility buildings. From schools, police, fire departments, doctors, and hospitals to garbage disposal or parks and playgrounds, there is a wide range of residents’ needs to be met. And only if they are sufficiently supplied with these, they will be happy and the city will grow. And as up to 5 levels of residential and office zones become available over time, the needs there also gradually increase greatly.


Gameplay – Trade and Management

Highrise City Test
Gameplay - Trade and Management
Highrise City Test
Gameplay – Trade and Management

Another unique feature of Highrise City is how money is made here. Comparable to the two major role models, there are indeed taxes on the residential and office zones. But this revenue is far from enough to finance our city and its expansion. We have to generate the main revenues with industry and the sale of goods through the port. Surpluses are exported and if a good is missing, we can buy it. And some things, like spices, are even available only through import.

The game offers, as usual in the genre, unlocks of new buildings via reaching certain population numbers. So, for example, if we have 1000 people in the city for the first time, this unlocks new zones, buildings, goods cycles, and some more. And little by little, we can also buy surrounding land as an additional construction area.

To round out the range of game features, Highrise City also offers a research system that makes individual buildings more effective. In addition, we can pass laws that enact waste reduction, for example, so that there is less plastic waste. Noise and air pollution or traffic jams are also problems we have to take care of as mayor.


Tech, graphics, sound

Highrise City 
Tech, Graphics, Sound
Highrise City
Tech, Graphics, Sound

The basis for Highrise City is the Unreal Engine 4. The proven engine is, at least within certain limits, a guarantee for good quality graphics, as well as stability and performance.

Highrise City has a huge amount of 3D models for the houses, inhabitants, landscape, and cars, which come with mid-range textures and also decent animations. This can already be seen from the rather high space requirement of more than 24 GB on the hard disk. However, some textures are still quite muddy at the moment, so there’s still room for improvement.

The sound effects of the game are unfortunately so far rather lower middle class. Besides wind noises, occasional vehicle hums, and a few typical “city sounds”, there’s not much to hear here. A few background tracks are playing. But you can clearly hear, that this area was probably not the main focus of the developers so far.

There is a very extensive options menu, with which you can adjust the game to your own preferences and weaker hardware, if necessary. Numerous settings for the difficulty level and for the interface are also possible there. This area is solved in an excellent way, an absolute thumbs up for it.

There is a bit of voice acting, but this is limited to the tutorial and system messages such as “lacking fruit” or “game saved” when an autosave has been created. The voice acting exists for English, French, German and Chinese so far. All texts are also available in these languages, plus Italian, Spanish, Polish, Japanese, and Korean.


Highrise City Screenshots – Ingame Pictures

Click or tap into the image for a larger view.
In the enlarged view, you can scroll right and left on the edges


Highrise City Test – Opinion and Conclusion

Highrise City Test
Opinion and Conclusion
Highrise City Test
Opinion and Conclusion

I loved SimCity, played the very first parts on the Amiga back in the day, and Cities Skyline captivated me for several hundred hours. So Highrise City immediately triggers those memories for me. It adds some really good new ideas to the city-builder genre, offers many familiar features in a new way, and also does many things right from the start. The scope of the game is really substantial for such a small team, and you can already find fun here as a city builder fan.

However, it’s important to note that it’s in Early Access and for a reason. The game is still a major construction site, or much more a collection of many very small and medium construction sites. Just as a city in the game needs to be constantly expanded, extended, and planning mistakes fixed in each and every corner, Highrise City also needs ongoing work on improvements and bug fixes for quite some time.

Don’t get me wrong, the basic gameplay works well. But the visual presentation, the menus and interface, the simulation of inhabitants and vehicles, and also many things in balancing are just unfinished. I guess it will take a few more months before the current problems will be solved. And since there are so many more features planned, I’m sure there will be some new bugs added then as well.

The special feature that actually all buildings and zones require building materials such as wood, stones, steel, etc. in addition to money, expands the game enormously. And the resulting optimizations of production and transport are really good. Here, Highrise City combines the best aspects of the classic city builders with new developments, such as those that emerged through Anno 1800. And this is already quite well done in the early version and is interesting to play.

For a rather small project, I’m pretty excited about the level of detail in the resulting cities. The range of 3D models for homes and offices is enormous, and they’re peppered with lots of little details. This visual variety really shines brightly when you zoom all the way in and move your camera between the houses.

Or you use the funny gimmick that you are allowed to drive a car completely free through the city. This car ride is technically not perfect and there is almost no collision detection, except with the too high curbs. But viewed like this from the middle of the road, your cities look just that much better.

If the visuals are really important to you, Highrise City offers even more great features for this. Because with farms, for example, we can also switch through different models and fruits at the touch of a button, transforming our strawberry plantation into a fruit tree farm, for example.

If that’s not enough, you can use the terraforming tool to reshape the map or use the decoration tool to place new objects from an already considerable palette of individual components or add on to existing houses. Do you want a climbing frame for kids in the garden of a certain house? No problem. Or you think that a certain building would look better with a roof light and a fire escape, go ahead, just add them. There are almost no limits to creative minds here.

The game then becomes even more flexible through the already existing mod support including Steam Workshop integration. Here, new maps, new buildings and also gameplay changes can be created in the future, with which everyone can adapt the game to their own wishes and expand the scope of the game with just a few clicks.

All in all, I’m very excited about Highrise City. It’s still a long way from “perfect”, but I really like what the game already offers. I’m very curious to see where the journey of this amazing city builder will lead when in a few months the bugs will be less, and the features and mods will have become even more plentiful.

With $24.99, the price is rather in the midfield, for the currently offered game scope and the condition of the game it scratches a little too much at the upper price range, for my feeling. But if Fourexo continues to work diligently on the title for a while, then it’s definitely worth the money. And I assume so, looking at the extensive roadmap.


Highrise City Review – Rating

For the mid-range price of $24.99, you get a very interesting mix of city builder, building strategy, and trading simulation with Highrise City, which brings some fresh ideas to the genre. With mod support and ongoing development, the game should provide very long-lasting entertainment. For this, I would like to give Highrise City a base rating of 90%.

As an Early Access title, it still has some technical flaws, as you would expect, but these are likely to be fixed in the following months. Until then, however, I have to deduct 8% for bugs, crashes, graphics glitches, interface problems, sometimes strange balancing, and gaps in the content at the moment.

This brings me to a preliminary final rating for Highrise City shortly after the Early Access release of 82%. If the developers manage to get the bugs and flaws under control and possibly add more interesting features, more maps, a map editor, or such to the game, then I see the potential for more than 90%.

Highrise City Review
Rating with numbers - 82 percent
Highrise City Review
Rating with numbers – 82 percent

Highrise City

Zap from ZapZockt.de

Highrise City Review - kluger City-Builder und Management Mix im Test
In the Highrise City Test, we see a City-building Simulation Like in Cities Skylines, Combined With Build-up Strategy à la Anno 1800.
In Highrise City we build cities like in SimCity or Cities: Skyline, but with resource management and trade, like in Anno. This new city builder mixes construction games with trade simulation and mayor management.
Simulation
Graphics
Sound
Scope
State of the Game (Early Access Start)
Long-term motivation
Fun per Price Ratio

Rating

For the mid-range price of $24.99, you get a very interesting mix of city builder, building strategy, and trading simulation with Highrise City, which brings some fresh ideas to the genre. With mod support and ongoing development, the game should provide very long-lasting entertainment. For this, I would like to give Highrise City a base rating of 90%.

As an Early Access title, it still has some technical flaws, as you would expect, but these are likely to be fixed in the following months. Until then, however, I have to deduct 8% for bugs, crashes, graphics glitches, interface problems, sometimes strange balancing, and gaps in the content at the moment.

This brings me to a preliminary final rating for Highrise City shortly after the Early Access release of 82%. If the developers manage to get the bugs and flaws under control and possibly add more interesting features, more maps, a map editor, or such to the game, then I see the potential for more than 90%.

4.1

Outro

Do you like being a mayor and taking care of all the needs of your inhabitants? Or are early access bugs, lots of fine-tuning, and management not something that appeals to you? Feel free to write me your opinion in the comments or in the ZapZockt community Discord.

More gaming news, game reviews, and guides can be found on the ZapZockt YouTube channel or here at https://zapzockt.de – clicking thumbs up on the video, subscribing, and sharing with friends certainly can’t hurt, and then I wish you a great day, ciao ciao, your Zap

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