Thursday, March 01, 2018

Citystate Gameplay Review

I'm playing Citystate, a city building simulation by The Citystate Development Team.

Featuring randomized maps, the game allows you to choose a starting government (from a couple of multiple-choice questions) and design a flag. Low, medium, and high density housing can be placed, but Citystate lacks zones for any commercial properties and industries other than mining operations and farms. All roads are multi-lane highways, but zones can be three squares away and still count as being connected to the road system. Parks can be placed to increase the seemingly random land values for surrounding areas. Exploring the land for minerals (mountains for iron, desert for oil, and jungle for gold) is expensive but necessary to balance the budget through exports; each square has a percentage chance of success (clearly shown before excavating) each time you drill. Citystate allows you to sculpt the nation by choosing policy options for each legislative topic that comes up; these decisions affect ratings in each income demographic, and overall national indicators for “freedom index”, culture, and lifestyle. Citystate has a seemingly sophisticated economic simulation with trade, bonds, and tax rates, but choosing appropriate funding levels for education, health care, and security is not obvious at all. Citystate is a strange combination of detail (laws, trade, citizen demands) and oversimplifications (no commercial zones, no small roads, no government services (like power and water or fire and police) beyond a budget slider, vague feedback) that just doesn’t work.