City Limits is a retro graphics style city builder game (with a little bit of strategy) that is billed as being a casual game where there is no losing. The developer even warns that players are not likely to want to play for long periods of time. Indeed, it isn’t a terribly challenging game on the surface, however, it can be a challenge when playing for a maximum score on a given level. The game play revolves around developing buildings on a map made up of a grid of squares. Scoring is based off of the number and types of buildings developed, and once the map is filled, the level ends; bonus points are given for each square that has a building.
City Limits comes with limited options. Strangely, the music can’t be disabled even though it appears that it has an on/off toggle. The music continues no matter how it is set. Also, there is no volume control for sound in general, so the Windows volume control is the only thing that can be used. There is a full screen option, which really blows up the pixelated look to very blocky. There is also a button that sets the background color to an apparently randomized color. None of the options are labeled, by the way, they rely on their symbology. There are several game modes that can be selected; adjusting these changes the landscape from a large area free of “spikes” to islands, growing spikes ruining lands and a timed growth of the spikes. The harder modes are eligible for the leaderboards.
The game play is fairly basic, although it is not very easy to understand to the point of the game, at first. On the left of the screen there is a sort of key that shows what certain combinations of building patterns will result in. On the right side, there is a small palette of available building type to select from. The player is supposed to place the available tiles strategically to create combinations that result in ‘extra’ buildings produced or building upgrades that result in more points. In the playing modes with spikes, every move will cause spike growth somewhere. The spikes ruin land, making them unusable. The overall goal is to fill up the empty areas, completing the map and ending the level.
Although City Limits is billed as casual, if playing for points in the harder modes, it can be a challenge. The scoring is a bit opaque; it is not made obvious what the best combinations are or what is more valuable in placement. Some assumptions can be made that buildings are better than houses and so forth, but it isn’t really listed anywhere. The end of a level gives a flat 50 points for each building on a tile, but this is a very minor portion of the overall score. There isn’t any way to lose the game, it is merely a matter of attaining the highest possible score. All in all, City Limits is a pretty basic city builder with a casual theme; it is recommended for players looking for something that is not complex.