Reiner Knizia is known for creating quality, challenging, and fun games. Whether it’s board games or iPhone games, this is a man who puzzle fans have come to rely on. City of Secrets Skyline, which is a sort of preamble to Aidem Media’s upcoming sequel to City of Secrets, is an updated version of the board game and promises to make logic junkies happy, and occasionally baffled, for hours.
In Skyline, you’re presented with grids, on which you must place buildings. Each building is a different height, and there are also parks which have no height. On the sides of the grids are numbers, which tell you how many buildings are allowed to be visible from that vantage point or direction. You’re essentially creating a crazy looking section of a city. It’s up to you to figure out how and where to place the buildings to successfully clear the board, and things get really interesting when the different vantage points intersect. Welcome to a city-planner’s nightmare.
To place a building, you simply tap one from the side of the screen to select it, and then tap on the board to place it. Different tiles on the grid will light up green if it’s considered a legal place to put the building. You can also double tap to remove it from the grid. When you’ve placed all of your buildings, the numbers will turn green if you’ve successfully placed the buildings in the right places and red if you failed. Fair warning: You’ll be seeing a lot of red.
If you build it, he will come.
There are 56 levels, divided into 4 sections, and each section is a different level of difficulty. The difficulty is a part of the problem here. It feels inconsistent, and it spikes pretty early in the game. The game’s mechanics can be difficult to get a handle on, so some kind of in-game tutorial or online manual to help understand the game’s finer points would be extremely helpful.
The presentation in Skyline is quite cool. The buildings are colorful and well-drawn, and you can spin and tilt the playing field to get a better view of the grids. We also like how the buildings seem to ‘grow’ out of the ground when you place them on the grid. The music is pretty annoying, though. It’s the same droning tune over and over again. We ended up muting the sound after just a few levels.
Reiner Knizia’s City of Secrets Skyline is an interesting take on the spatial-logic puzzle game. Casual gamers might be turned off by the game’s inconsistent difficulty curve and annoying soundtrack. But if you’re a puzzle champ, you’ll probably enjoy the challenge.