Cities: Skylines Parklife DLC Review
Cities: Skylines, arguably 2015's Game of the Year, continues to get new DLC three years after its launch, and "Parklife," the latest, seeks to blend the resurgent amusement park genre of games like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Parkitect into the classic SimCity formula that Skylines has otherwise been following since launch.
The question becomes whether this is a clever fusion of genres or whether you're essentially being asked to pay 15 bucks for content that's either superfluous, poorly integrated, or both.
And the answer to that? Well, it's the same answer as every DLC to come out for Skylines so far, and for every DLC to come out for publisher Paradox's other games that use this model, like Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV.
Repeat after me: “It depends on your playstyle.”
I loaded up a city that was fairly bog standard and still very much a work in progress (pop. 3,500 or so and just starting to expand across the freeway for the first time) and used the game's districting tool, repurposed to “create a park area,” to carve out some land like Walt Disney looking out at bare ground in Anaheim in the 1950s.
And here ... is where things got a little underwhelming.
A Place With All the Zip of Nuka-Cola
You get four broad templates to work from: City Park, Zoo, Nature Reserve, and Amusement Park.
Each has its own flavor, and Colossal Order clearly had broad city types from its previous DLCs and the basegame in mind. The Zoo and Nature Reserve in particular are supposed to appeal to the same people who got the most out of the Green Cities DLC, while the City and Amusement parks reminded me, respectively, of New York's Central Park and Disneyland.
Parks start off at the first of five levels; you build an entryway connected to the main road, then use park paths to direct people on foot through your park, building attractions, places to eat, and places to use the bathroom.
Broadly, this is the same no matter what park type you choose. The parks level up pretty much by themselves as their visitor counts and entertainment ratings increase, allowing you to charge higher gate fees (or use the parks as loss leaders to beautify and enhance the neighborhoods they're in).
They're also very pretty for screenshots, especially on higher-end computers taking advantage of the game's prettier graphics features; this effect is going to be lessened on potato-mode PCs.
At the top level, you get a cool attraction to draw more tourism into town, and the coveted “Castle of Lord Chirpwick” is Mad King Ludwig meets Skylines' not-at-all-angry bird.
The Player Style Problem
There's just one little-bitty thing wrong with all this fun:
Min-maxers and efficiency fans will hate it.
Calling up the land-value overlay shows that just plunking down a residential zone with a Japanese Garden or a basketball court will do more for your tax base and your city's ongoing maintenance costs than the DLC offers.
What's more, by the time your city is big enough to sustain the visitor traffic required to make the park into an actual revenue source, you might not want to redesign your infrastructure around a big park when you're already balancing it against a stadium or some monuments or whatever else you've already got in place from the game's leisure and land value choices.
Which leaves you with a choice: Either design your city around being a tourist haven, or stick to conventional park-building tools from the basegame. Which you'd rather do is the final arbiter of whether you'll get anything out of this DLC.
"Parklife" is also $14.99 US, which is full price for a game like Stardew Valley.
If you really want to dive into city beautification and quality-of-life and tourism and all that, wait for a sale and pick this up at half price. Otherwise, you can safely give it a miss.
Disclaimer: The reviewer was provided with a Steam key by the publisher.