Cities Skylines: After Dark ReviewPrice:
I'm beginning to think Colossal Order is rather clever. Earlier this year Cities Skylines swept up players burned by SimCity's tiny building spaces and online shenanigans, appearing seemingly out of nowhere with the game we all hoped Maxis' reboot would be. They then immediately offered players the keys to the city, providing excellent mod support that gave its player-base almost infinite creative possibilities.
This was a smart and generous move, but it's also one that made the prospect of official expansions tricky. Simply adding more stuff just wouldn't suffice. So instead Colossal Order has taken a careful overview of what their city-builder lacked, that couldn't easily be addressed by the community The result is an add-on that, while not quite essential, makes a noticeable impact on how your cities form, expand and thrive.
The most obvious change is the one referred to in the expansion's title. Whereas before the sun shone on your city with the permanence of a polar summer, now the game sports a proper day/night cycle. Sunsets wash your metropolis in a golden haze, and when darkness envelops the sky, your city holds it back with the yellow-white glow of streetlamps and flickering neon signage. From your celestial viewpoint, you can see traffic crawling along your city's roads like luminescent snakes, those slithering lines punctuated by the flashing red and blue lights of a police car or a fire engine.
It's a massive visual change. An important one too, given that a city's nightlife is arguably as crucial to its identity as its daytime function. Unfortunately, any changes in the simulation aren't quite as obvious. Crime allegedly increases at night, for example, but this is only noticeable if the crime-rate is high enough in the first place. At one point a hotel of mine complained about the high-crime rate, but like a baffled detective I saw no evidence of it nearby. It's possible to order certain services to function at specific times of day, but overall, your city is still very much the same beast at night.
Instead, the introduction of the day/night cycle acts as a springboard for other ideas that either specialise or diversify your city. The most significant are the new commercial districts. In vanilla Skylines, you could use districts to specialise your industries toward agriculture, forestry, oil and ore mining, and so forth. Now you can achieve similar specialisation in commercial district to facilitate either leisure activities or tourism. The former encourages the building of bars, nightclubs, restaurants, casinos and gaming dens, whereas the latter triggers construction of towering hotels and apartment blocks designed to cram in tourists like a budget airline.