Review – Silicon City

The death of the Sim City franchise was tragic at first, but it didn’t take long for a few companies to come up with new ideas to revive the city building genre for a starving audience. Weirdly enough, I do feel like the genre is at home in VR nowadays, with games like Little Cities and Cities VR playing better on motion-based controls than even a mouse and keyboard. That doesn’t mean I won’t appreciate newcomers trying to break into the genre via Steam. This is what we’re doing today by looking at a fresh new contender, Silicon City from French studio Polycorne.

Silicon City

That black brick isn’t a small statue. That’s supposed to be one of my town’s inhabitants.

Silicon City is straight to the point. It wants to be the new Sim City in your life, but at the same time, the studio knows its limitations. This is a much smaller game than, say, Cities: Skylines. It doesn’t try to be realistic, or let you mess with complex geography or impressive structures. You are given a very small plot of land, and you have to figure out a way to turn it into a self-sustainable little hamlet with electricity, shops, entertainment, and housing. No need to come up with water pipes, thankfully.

Being limited and stripped down is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in the sense that the game is easy to pick up and play. It’s not particularly fast-paced due to a lethargic day and night system, but its mechanics are straightforward: build a power grid, then zone houses and businesses, then additional entertainment venues and other services, until you have a fully employed population that pays taxes, letting you build more stuff. I do appreciate the fact that you can see whoever lives in each house, all while finding out where does that person live, their likes, dislikes, and so on.

Silicon City buildings

Seeing your painted zone sections becoming actual buildings is what makes Silicon City, and every other city builder, so fun.

It is also a curse because it doesn’t take long for the small plot of land at your disposal to be fully developed. There is not a lot of real estate for you to mess around with, and the geography is limited. It doesn’t take long before the entire map is completely full. The building variety is not particularly impressive. Furthermore, I wasn’t a big fan of how the game rendered its citizens, or as it called them, “silizens”.

Silicon City soccer

My town doesn’t have a hospital, but it sure does a football team. Priorities.

Every single citizen in Silicon City is represented as a walking rectangle. Even though the buildings themselves, while low-poly in nature, resemble normal cities where normal human beings would live, complete with trees, realisitc lighting effects, and cars, everyone is just a walking brick. It never felt cute, charming, or something that even remotely resembled a neat artistic decision, even if it was intended as such. I would have very much preferred a city without pedestrians, limited to just cars going from point A to point B instead.

Silicon City arena

An e-sport arena in a town with 120 people. Because why not?

Silicon City is a much more limited and stripped down version of the traditional city builder simulator you’ve grown to love since the 90s, with small map sizes and a somewhat limited amount of buildings to place, but it’s also faster to learn, as well as to simply pick up and play. It’s a more casual take on the genre, all while retaining a chunk of the elements that made it so popular with PC gamers in the first place. If you’re looking for a really immersive fix, this isn’t for you, but if you’re looking for some carefree city building to be enjoyed short bursts, you could do a lot worse.

Graphics: 6.5

While the low-poly city visuals are cute, I certainly wasn’t a fan of the designs of the citizens, who are all walking rectangles.

Gameplay: 7.0

A decent UI, simple controls, a good tutorial mode. The amount of building options isn’t exactly impressive, but there’s enough to satiate you for a while.

Sound: 6.0

A very par for the course soundtrack, which doesn’t impress, but it also doesn’t irritate.

Fun Factor: 7.0

It’s a lot more stripped down than other city builders, with less options, but it’s also faster to learn. It’s fun in shorter bursts.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Silicon City is available now on PC.

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.

A copy of Silicon City was provided by the publisher.