Cities - Skylines After Dark Review - The Party Goes On and On

Jonathan Bolding | 24 Sep 2015 12:45
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Land value and tourism also got a boost, with beaches adding value to homes and businesses on them. New tourism specialized commercial areas are like leisure areas - they produce lots of noise - but they're active and bumping 24/7. This really helps fancy-up the game's tourism mechanics and lets you produce a bustling shoreline crawling with tourists like you might expect to see in a major city like Miami or Los Angeles. There are also new shoreline buildings, marinas and piers, which act a lot like prior specialist tourist-attracting buildings. You place them, they attract people, done - but the aesthetic appeal can't be denied.

Finally, the game's public transit system has gotten a bit of an upgrade. In addition to the day/night ability to choose whether a line is active during the day or at night, taxis, bicycles, and bus terminals allow for really useful options. Taxis are like freeform public transit. They pop out of cab depots and go to where they're needed, then return either to their depot or to the nearest ploppable taxi rank until they're needed again. For those of us who don't like to micromanage bus lines to and from every little plot of commercial district, they're a godsend that helps cut down on traffic clog. Bicycles are an option for citizens, and much like cars are privately owned. Wonderfully, you can create custom bike paths, so if you're like me and try to make neighborhoods as walkable as possible, you can realize your dreams of a green utopia with policies that encourage bike use. The new bus terminal also lets you have lots of bus stops that end in the same place, and enables your citizens to more effectively understand how to get the bus from point A to point B. To better support new bus and bike behaviors, you can make roads with dedicated lanes for either one. They're mutually exclusive, though, so pick a specialization for each part of your city and stick with it.

Okay, now that we're at the end, indulge me (again, I know, I ask too much) in a little honesty. I was going to give this expansion a 4.5... because it doesn't feel like much more than an aesthetic upgrade to casual players who aren't focused on optimizing their districts and transport and blah blah blah. I realized something, though, writing my final thoughts. I realized I was thinking that way because so much of the aesthetic and experience focused content in After Dark is in the free patch - the one every owner gets. It'd be a crime to knock a half point off this expansion's score because the game publishers are improving the game's feature set for free, so I decided to consider this a score for the entire feature suite included in this expansion - not just what you're paying for. I still feel that the $15 price tag is justified - especially considering that the base game was a relatively piddling $30.

Bottom Line: To some players it's going to feel like a handful of aesthetic features, but once you use the new mechanics After Dark draws you deeper into making your own little world.

Recommendation: Very casual players might be satisfied with the expansion's accompanying free content, but if you're putting more than ten hours into a city (and you will) you'll want After Dark.

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