Skyline is more of a puzzle game than a genuine board game. It’s one of the many brood given birth by the Tethyan Knizia.
You have a grid of varying sizes. You have a range of buildings and possibly parks with a number of stories from one to four. You are to arrange these buildings in a certain way so that no column or row has more than one building of the same height, and so that certain numerical signifiers on the edge of that grid match up with that configuration.
These numerical signifiers indicate a position on the edge of the grid, or from a position in the middle where there is a point of view that can only see a certain number of buildings in the relevant direction. Buildings of higher heights block buildings of lower heights. The puzzle is to match these up.
The game starts off fairly simple, with small grid configurations, and fewer variables. With each successful grid, you are shuttled to the next with an increasing order of complexity and requirements. By the time you’ve completed the apprenticeship you have been incrementally introduced to the games complexities and are ready for the game experience in total.
[Edit: due to popular demand here is my review of the implementation.]
As a game, it ticks most of the boxes for a Knizia implementation. It uses good three-dimensional graphics that you can slide around with your fingers to ensure you can view the grid from any angle. It’s a useful implementation that often comes in handy when the grid extends outside of the line of sight. In general the user interface is intuitive. Beyond that there is nothing exceptional about the user interface or graphics to comment on, they do their job adequately.
There is also a clear opportunity to hit people up for money as there is a hint button that gives you the answer to one space on the grid. Better choose your timing on this, because you only get three hints for free, the rest cost real money. It smacks of freemium style games, so that entirely depends on whether that’s worth your while. Noticeably though, if you use the hint and close the window or change views the entire grid resets and your hint is wasted.
Rather than revising my litany against Knizia at this point, I’ll simply point out that I made a long statement about quality over quantity. Whether this is substantiated by market forces is not for me to conjecture about but maybe it says something about the market expectations that such a strategy can produce reasonable returns. That being said, this game seems to be somewhere on par with the standard I’ve expected from Knizia. It’s quick, cheap and I lost interest in about ten minutes of play. In fact it took me the better part of the month to write this review because there’s nothing really to add to Knizia games that I haven’t already commented on in one form or another. I think maybe in the future I should draft some kind of generic Knizia review response and simply cut and paste for each Knizia review. After all why should I be putting major effort into reviewing these games when so little real investment has gone into them in the first place?
That being said, this game clearly sits on the outside edge of what could be defined as a board game and setting a good pace into the territory of puzzle gaming. At least it’s not repeating the horrible mistake of Tiny Token Empires, where it sets itself up to be one type of game but is ultimately an entirely different kind. I think it’s a shame because there are clearly signs of good development. The animations are smooth, the user interface is intuitive, but the Knizia games are amongst the first that made me feel like playing a game was a chore, not a past-time.
3/10: Ultimately, what I’m saying is that the game only just passes the muster and I will no longer be reviewing a Knizia game just because it has game-like features. I will only be reviewing Knizia games that are based on a real physical board game, or could legitimately be accepted as a board game in the Eurogamer/strategy gamer circuit.Skyline,