Citalis is a simulation city building game about managing 6 variables; money, population, water, crime, beauty and happiness. The aim of the game is to pay off your hefty $10,000,000 loan, you gradually earn this money by constructing businesses where your population work. To house your population you need to spend money on residential buildings, however if your population isn’t happy the crime will accumulate in each of your businesses. If the crime grows too large in a business it will close down, meaning you can’t earn money from that source any more. To keep your population happy you have to spend money on reservoirs and beautiful parks and fountains.
This is a simple but potentially excellent foundation for a nice little game, but unfortunately that potential is floundered. There are “natural disasters” in the game but these are caused by the player making an obvious mistake. If you don’t build enough reservoirs for the population you get a drought, if you build too many reservoirs and forget to lock them, they fill up and you get a flood. These mistakes are boringly easy to avoid once you’ve made them a few times yourself. The population is only managed by the amount of housing and the number of jobs available, so it’s impossible for your population to grow out of control if you stop building houses or businesses. This results in a game that is so utterly predictable you could easily teach a robot to play it.
A good game is a mixture making difficult decisions and performing actions quickly and efficiently. Citalis describes itself as a “fast paced city simulation game” but it isn’t fast paced in the slightest because you can control it so easily. There were a few occasions when I built too many businesses and there was a rush to quickly build parks and reservoirs as my population increased to fill the jobs. However this was a mistake on my part, and it’s easy to circumvent. The simulation doesn’t have any aspects of autonomy, the population doesn’t fluctuate, nothing unexpected happens, it doesn’t even properly simulate the population going to work. The cars that drive along the road are just for show, it is quite literally a fancy spreadsheet.
While it took me two attempts to figure out the systems, once I had been playing for half an hour my city was earning enough money to simply leave my computer on until I had paid off the 10 million dollar target. Citalis is by definition, a bad game, the only enjoyment you can get out of it is by watching your money grow. Don’t get me wrong that can be satisfying, but there are hundreds of games that do just that for free with much more interesting systems. There is a good foundation for a game here and I would give it the benefit of the doubt if Citalis was in early access, but it isn’t.
The game could be expanded with random events such as fluctuating populations, homelessness, random natural disasters and market crashes. This would make the game more interesting as the player would have to quickly solve any unexpected events before it was too late. Additionally if you removed the goal players could race to get the best score in a set amount of time, and then you would have a fast paced game.
Citalis might have some rather cute graphics, but unfortunately that doesn’t stop it from being a boring game. It doesn’t have any bugs or anything technically “wrong” with it, but it’s simplicity leaves much to be desired. Watching numbers grow may be enjoyable but spending money on this game isn’t worth it when you can get the same pleasure and much more from playing something for free like Cookie Clicker.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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