Game

Next level freemium city-building

Price: Free
Version: 1.0.0
Size: 206 MB
Developer: NimbleBit
Platform: iPhone/iPad

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Games like Sim City were groundbreaking when they first hit computers and consoles in the late 80s/early 90s, but the genre has since been deconstructed and rebuilt from the ground-up, representing the kind of freemium monster that’s scarier than the Godzilla disaster scenario that could arise within those original games.

On iOS, those original properties exist, alongside a number of sub-par imitations, but they’re all based around a model that requires a user to wait – sometimes hours – for the chance to continue playing. But the gameplay is so addictive, players are compelled to use real world money to complete projects faster and continue playing. In many ways, the time constraints are representative of the real world. But they’re cynical in their money grab.

It all starts to simply...

It all starts so simply…

So, now we have Bit City. Is it more of the same? Yes, and no. On the surface, it appears to be well constructed, featuring level-gameplay absent from similar titles. You don’t stick with the same, ever-expanding city. Rather you take the reins of a small city, build it up to a determined population level, then move on to the next, bigger city.

Build new buildings to increase population, once you hit the number for the level you can move on to another city

Build new buildings to increase population, once you hit the number for the level you can move on to another city

What’s also different, is this game isn’t about the citizens. It’s about the money. The game does away with imagined residents’ approvals of your methods, and instead, each decision you make – whether it’s raising taxes, or building new areas, your earning potential rises. There’s a clock at the top that measures money in the bank, and shows your earning potential per second. Once you get to 3m/sec it’s quite dizzying.

We’d say this is where the addictive gameplay comes in. Though it seems a lot, you always want more. To make real drastic changes to the amount you can earn, and ensure that this potential stays in place across levels (rather than resetting when you move on) you have to spend Bux – in game currency. These are relatively easy to collect, but can be boosted through IAPs. We didn’t bother – because quite honestly, there’s far too much stuff going on, and it would seriously diminish the gameplay to take this route.

Boost your earning potential by implementing taxes

Boost your earning potential by implementing taxes

Though your money continues to rise, it will slow down considerably if you leave the game. The whole thing is designed to keep you playing as long as possible. You can collect tons of cash by tapping on the vehicles on your roads, but you have to manually do it. You also have to manually build buildings and upgrades. The key to Bit City, is to keep tapping the big yellow build button in the middle to keep your earning potential rising. There really is no strategy to it.

Keep your city constantly under construction by tapping the Build button

Keep your city constantly under construction by tapping the Build button

And that’s essentially where it falls down. It’s not in the pushy nature of ads or IAPs, it’s in the complete lack of challenge. All you need is patience and an active trigger feature. If you like city building games, this isn’t the title you’re waiting for, but it’s far better, and different to those already on the App Store. It’s worth a shot, but we’d say there’s not a lot of longevity to it. Though it’s addictive, the stress of the continuous need to tap and build or lose out on earning potential is quite frankly, too exhausting for us.

In fact, we continued tapping away during the writing of this review and the earning potential went from 3m/sec to 5m/sec. Maybe we’ll give it another week…

Review: Bit City – next level freemium city-building
Super-addictive, but lacking in any real challenge or strategy.
For
  • Can get quite exhilarating
  • Ease of entry
  • Fun, playful design
Against
  • No challenge
  • No real strategy
  • Too much of a time suck
3.0Overall Score