WarningMight contain spoilers.

It took two attempts for the game to draw me in. The first time saw me try it and immediately put it back on the pile for later. I eventually decided to return to it armed with knowledge, which is how I discovered City Planner Play’s fantastic introductory series on YouTube. I’m inordinately glad I did.

This is a frankly amazing game with astounding depth. The visuals are excellent considering it was released in 2015, a full year before the also-incredible No Man’s Sky, and considering everything it simulates: the lives, the goods, the water, the utilities, the traffic, and so on. One could certainly think of it as a successor to the SimCity series, but the difference between 2000’s SimCity 3000 Unlimited—the last one I played—and this is inexpressibly large.

Building road or rail networks is fantastically satisfying with the myriad tools on offer. The vast array of mods create endless possibilities for attending to every last detail (with all the limitations inherent in any modding system, including incompatibilities between random sets of content). It outright stole entire days of my life.

Indeed, I found it both fascinating and edifying to see the meticulous approach some players (like the aforementioned City Planner Plays) take to developing their cities, and how still others might even spend an hour designing a single block by placing specific buildings with carefully-controlled inhabitants. The appeal of the dollhouse is endless.

Really, the biggest problem is that this game is so good it leaves me wanting more. I crave an even grander, more detailed simulation, unbound by reality when it comes to its population, graphics, and so on. I honestly expected to be playing this for years, and may have ruined my own enjoyment of the game that exists by obsessing over the fantasy version that doesn’t. Regardless, I’m very grateful to have found it and got such an immense amount of joy from it.

I’ll always wonder what a city simulator with more global influences would be like. How universal are the mechanics here? For example, although Skylines offers a variety of transportation methods, it remains very American, built on the primacy of cars. How different would a simulator more influenced by, say, the Netherlands be?

A visual sampling