Recently, the developers over at NimbleBit allowed folks to check out a Release Candidate version of their newest game, Bit City. I was afforded the opportunity to download a copy of the near finished title, scheduled for release next month, and see what exactly the house behind freemium hits like Tiny Tower, Pocket Trains and Capitals (among many others) has been working on. Suffice to say, like many of its previous titles, I have no doubt that Bit City has the formula necessary to capture the attention of a wide variety of gamers with a basic, yet enjoyable freemium experience.
If you’ve seen the many screenshots that NimbleBit devs have posted on Twitter regarding Bit City, you might think that it’s a city simulator in the vein of SimCity. While it has some superficial similarities in terms of zoning and building structures, it’s actually far more closer to a traditional ‘clicker’ style game than anything else. Bit City is a scenario-based game that has you building a city with the goal of meeting a certain population. Hit that population, and you’re allowed to continue improving your city or move on to the next level, which has a different town layout, more plots of land to build on, and, on occasion, new transportation options to build.
The reason Bit City is closer to a clicker than anything else is because the game places a high emphasis on earning money and an exponential increase in costs of building new plots of land the closer you get to meeting your population goals. Each city has a pre-determined number of plots of land, with each either being small plots or large plots. Also, each plot will grant you a pre-determined number of residences the moment you build upon it. Each plot you build upon also provides you with a steady stream of income on a per second basis. In addition to simply building an initial building, you can ‘rebuild’ on that same plot of land, which increases the level of the plot and grants you more coins per second. Rebuilding is free and simply takes time to complete so you always want to make sure your build timers are active.
Players can choose from one of three “zones” when building which are mostly superficial in nature (except for the demand mechanics mentioned below). There are also vehicle garages that let players spend some coin to launch vehicles onto the map, which eventually provide a steady stream of income but can also reward higher coin drops as well as Bux by tapping on them. Otherwise, the game places a heavy emphasis on continually building up your coin earnings via rebuilds and earning extra cash with the vehicles.
While it’s a basic game, there’s a decent amount of strategy involved in some of the ancillary elements of Bit City. For example, each city has a Government Building which offers you a large amount of upgrades you can pursue for coin costs that also rise exponentially (similar to the price of each plot of land). These upgrades range from increasing the raw earning potential of your buildings, to automatically upgrading plots every few seconds, to even increasing the bonus payout of vehicles. In addition, there is a basic ‘demand’ hierarchy that decreases the earning potential of business types that have been overbuilt (thus, in general you want to strive for balance across all three types of zones).
In addition to the Government upgrades (which go away each time you advance to a new city) there are a plethora of permanent upgrades that will apply to all your cities that require Bux (the now ubiquitous NimbleBit take on premium currency). As in previous games, Bux are earned at a decent pace in-game, but there’s always the option to shell out cash if you really want to get to those permanent upgrades quicker. Add in special buildings that you buy (which, if built, have a much higher earning potential than others), an interesting “Pension Pig” IAP (pay a few bucks and you immediately earn all the premium currency that’s been slowly building in the pig for each upgrade you take in the game) and a “Prestige” option that resets you back to the first city but you get to keep all your Bux and permanent upgrades and it’s obvious NimbleBit has taken great care to keep folks coming back and playing an otherwise fairly simple game.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, Bit City has done an amazing job with creating an environment that wants you to continually come back and make that earning potential skyrocket. Upgrades that may have seemed impossible an hour ago can be purchased several times over once you get the multipliers going. There’s also a fun hidden game that can be done in the sense that if you build a structure you like, you can ‘tag’ it as a historical building, meaning that you can continue rebuild and upgrade it but its appearance will never change. Thus, you can in theory create your perfect community with enough patience and luck without it really impacting the main goal of the game (which is to make more money and build on more plots of land). There is a strong sense of perpetual and meaningful progression, which is imperative for a clicker game. These types of games don’t typically hook me in, so I have to give Bit City credit for doing so.
As we mentioned before, Bit City will launch sometime in March. Meanwhile, check back with us later as we get closer to launch.