2022.07.15

Joint Strike Fighter JSF video game

This isn't actually about flight simulators but rather Switch games I picked up for the Hawaii downtime.
Project Highrise

Project Highrise tower elevators

In searching the Switch store I came across an unofficial follow-up to 1994's SimTower. The tldr: it's a faithful recreation of the original game but about as inventive as StarCraft II was. PH was released 22 years after SimTower but is only an incremental upgrade on the original.

Project Highrise new building unhappiness
The classic SimTower elements are there: happiness, noise, foot traffic. Well, while one of the big elements in SimTower was elevator management, it's not all that important in this game. Somewhat disappointingly, Project Highrise feels more like a budget simulator with design constraints rather than a design sandbox with budget constraints.

Project Highrise city contracts a bit of variety
I made the mistake of trying a run without clicking through all of the menus. One of the main sources of early income is City Contracts - incentives to focus on apartments/offices/hotel rooms/etc.

Project Highrise lease office space Ritchie Insurance
PH allows you to pick your tenants. It's not too micromanagey at first, or even later as long as you keep your sims happy. One of the thoughtful features for late game/large building is that some tedious tasks can be automated (not sure if choosing tenants falls in this category). Notably missing: dragging utilities to each tile of a new floor.

Project Highrise art gallery
PH lets you invest in mega-attractions - like art galleries - to draw in visitors and increase your prestige. Upkeep on them is no joke so it's easy to get excited and front the contruction costs but then find your balance sheet in the red.

Project Highrise relocating lobby tower
The ability to relocate most units is a nice way to fix your layout or support new construction that has restrictions (e.g. underground or first floor only).

Project Highrise media buzz pricing it in
As mentioned, there aren't a ton of innovations on the SimTower formula, but one new thing is Buzz. It's a passively-accruing currency that you can spend on perks.

Project Highrise consultants
Similarly, Influence unlocks consultants that enable new buildables.

I got to forty floors and didn't see any interesting objectives to stretch for, so I put the game down. But I was hooked for the the first playthrough.

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Nowhere Prophet

Nowhere Prophet title screen

Hoping for more Slay the Spire-like deckbuilding, I downloaded Nowhere Prophet. If StS = Dominion + RoR, Nowhere Prophet = StS + Magic the Gathering.

Nowhere Prophet intro the world is broken
NP has a neat artistic style and is set in a Horizon/Mad Max-like postapocalypse.

Nowhere Prophet robot enemy
Much like MTG, there's both an active player character and a battlefield full of summons. There is a fixed number of spaces on the board where front and back lines have different attacking/defending rules. The spatial tactics unfortunately stop there.

Nowhere Prophet deck Apostate of the Echo
Having minions on the board adds some complexity to the game format and lets you do more than simply play 1-3 cards per turn. There are synergies and power combos to be found, but minmaxing is nowhere near the level of Slay the Spire or Magic.

Nowhere Prophet focus destroy leader deck card
As I mentioned, the player character has actions as well. These typically consist of minion buffs and enemy removal.

Nowhere Prophet leader screen equipment deck
And there's equipment; guns and armor with special effects. Excess inventory can be disassembled into leader cards or sold to a merchant.

Nowhere Prophet combat heretic taunt
Characters have a variety of abilities, the most important being Taunt. Taunt (if on the front row) means that character must be the target of enemy attacks. This can keep the glass cannon minions alive and, more importantly, the player character. Like many of these roguelike deckbuilders, HP doesn't regenerate after each battle.

Nowhere Prophet encounter storm checkpoint
Zooming out a level, a run consists of traversing a series of battles and more than a few dungeon crawler-like encounters that have rewards, penalties, and player checks. The encounters/storytelling is one of my favorite parts of this game.

Nowhere Prophet map ferals pit nine
One more zoom out. A run is broken into a handful of maps with their own landmarks and bosses.

Nowhere Prophet game over
One of the complaints I read in the reviews was that the game is too hard. I disagree. Easy mode is totally doable (got to the final boss on my first run nbd) and while medium introduces some gnarly enemy boss decks, it's winnable. I didn't try hard. As far as I can tell, though, none of the unlockables are gated by difficulty.

Nowhere Prophet character select nomads banshee
Variety and replay value fall short with the fact the various starting decks/leaders aren't especially different. In contrast, the Slay the Spire characters each have their own unique meta. Regardless, for me Nowhere Prophet was good for a half-dozen runs.

Nowhere Prophet game over stats
Permadeath for minions might seem annoying on its face but it suits the Thunderdome vibe and doesn't typically have a major impact on the run. That said, it's yet another force against synergy so it would be nice if follower deaths had some positive (you inherit their cash or something).

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