Cities: Skylines

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Cities: Skylines review
Preston Dozsa


Builing vast, complex ecosystems with style

Actions have consequences

In trying to solve the power demands of my growing city, I accidentally flooded a suburb filled with elementary schools. You see, I had placed a hydro plant along a river because it turns out that shopping malls take up a lot of electricity. I looked away for a minute in order to decide where I should place a new fire station and when I got back the dam had overflowed, causing the once bustling suburb of ‘Merica to become a lake.

But I wasn’t upset by the turn of events. This was my fault after all, and if I had planned it out better the Sunnybrook Elementary School would not have suffered severe water damage. The actions you make in Cities: Skylines have consequences, ones that will drastically affect how your city develops and grows. A misplaced hydro plant or a well-positioned hospital can make a big difference. And it is that power you have over your city that makes Cities: Skylines such an engaging city builder.


Much like its more famous counterpart SimCity, Cities: Skylines places you in control of a mayor overseeing the creation and management of a new city. You build roads, part the land into various residential, commercial and industrial zones, and manage your city’s services and policies in order to grow as large as possible. That city can eventually grow into a behemoth that spans 36 square kilometers, meaning that your city may very well have satellite suburbs, farming communities and tourist towns far away from the city’s center.

In order to better control your city, you can divide the land up into various districts, each with their own policies and taxation rates that differ from anywhere else in the city. High end shopping districts with equally high taxes, suburbs where recreational drug use is permitted and an industrial port focused on siphoning oil are all districts that I created with this function. It mimics real cities, creating a sense of character that makes your artificial one feel alive.

Well, as alive as a virtual city that lacks a day/night cycle can get. It will always be perpetually sunny in your city, so citizens will leave their house and go to work at random times. While you can click on individual citizens and cars, they will not follow a set schedule. This is primarily a city builder, and precise simulation is not something that this game has. To that end, there are also no seasons in game, so for anyone looking to watch your citizens struggle under a blizzard, there will only be paradise quality weather available in game.

Zones and services

Beyond creating zones, of which the high industrial office parks are my personal favorite, the other major types of buildings you will implant will be services. They range from fire departments to cemeteries to nuclear power plants to parks and much more. In addition to providing the service the buildings fall under, they also serve to increase or decrease the value of the land you place them near. In this way, your city continually upgrades itself through your actions, allowing it to continue growing beyond its original conception.

For example, when I placed a police station near some small businesses, their value increased and they began to upgrade themselves, creating a few more additional jobs for itself. Or, when I placed some wind turbines in ‘Merica, my citizens began to get upset at the rampant noise pollution in the area. To solve this, I bulldozed the houses of the people who complained about it on social media, which worked wonderfully.

Ever present in the game is the Twitter analogue Chirper, complete with its own blue bird for a logo. Here, your citizens will remark upon your actions and give you some understanding as to whether they approve or disapprove of your leadership. Use green energy, and they will happily promote your lack of pollution generating coal plants. Don’t have enough cemeteries or incinerators to handle the dead, and they’ll complain of the dead relatives lying on their couches. It’s a fun and interesting feedback mechanism, one which allows you easily understand what is going on in your city without sorting through menus.


fun score


Engaging city building, great and easy to manage and control, mod support.


Frequent simulation problems, minor interface issues.