Cities: Skylines is a game that I keep going back to. Even though new and interesting content packs come out for it regularly, I find myself drawn to the scale of the game more than its content. I mean, it’s big, and flying through it set to a calm soundtrack is the ultimate soothing experience.
A flythrough tour of a massive Cities: Skylines build is wonderful because I know exactly how much time and determination it takes to get everything into place. It’s hard to upgrade all of your buildings to large capacity and its difficult to manage traffic to a degree that your massive city doesn’t just sputter and die at the 500,000 population mark.
So I’m astounded by videos like this one from YouTube user Rokubi94 because I know the kind of time that they have sunk in creating their shifting clockwork city. Although many people use Skylines purely in a “creative” mode with infinite money and none of the constraints of the game’s campaign experience, it’s still an impressive feat of figuring out how all of these people, cars, and buildings fit together.
What I’m most impressed with, though, is the flora on the edge of the city. It makes it seem like this city is nestled into the natural world in a productive, non-disruptive way that’s basically impossible in the real world. Cities: Skylines gives you the opportunity to make these little utopian places that can’t quite fit into the real world, and that’s something I really appreciate in city builder game design.
While we often talk about “immersion” or a “flow state” in video games, I can’t say that I ever really lose myself in the play of games. Watching cinematic flythroughs of massive cities, though? I could lean back and do that all day, and I’ve lost more than a couple hours of my life just letting YouTube autoplay these things for me. I imagine this is how people felt about really great woodworking in the 1950s. I appreciate the work that goes into making cities, I understand the effort that it takes to make them, and I can get lost in contemplating them from afar.