Lin City is a long-form styled game. It involves building a city, then waiting to see if all that you have built will do what you hope it will. With such a simple premise, it relies a great deal on many other aspects of the gameplay to hold your interest. Unfortunately, it is not yet in a state to do so.
Like its name suggests, Lin City is somewhat akin to Sim City, the older Sim game where you are required to build and maintain a city. There are some rather gaping differences though; you can attempt to build a fully sustainable city, where all aspects of the city life are well balanced and the people live within their means. Your other option, however, is to “go for broke” by aiming to build a rocket ship in order to transport your people away from the resource-starved, bankrupt world you create. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to adjust the tax system, as you could in Sim City; it is unclear how you go about getting more money for the city itself.
You are fairly limited in what building you can do, and many of the buildings seem to bring multiple benefits; farms will feed your population and provide jobs. There are mines and processing areas that provide several different minerals and ores, as well as providing jobs. You need to connect them to the residential areas with streets, though it’s unclear how to make them more accessible and usable beyond that. In general with this game, I found a somewhat steep and ambiguous learning curve, where I wasn’t entirely sure why some things were working and others weren’t. I wasn’t able to find clear answers within the game, either.
In playing this game, it was difficult to find information within it on how to proceed. The goals seem relatively clear, but how to achieve them is not. I aimed to build slowly and stay within my means, and yet within a short time I was 37 million dollars in debt. There is a tutorial included with the game, which was not very helpful. However, being severely in debt does not seem to affect your ability to keep playing and building; there seem to be no consequences for owing large amounts of money.
Perhaps one of the greatest frustrations was with the seemingly insignificant zoom function. You can choose to click the zoom in or zoom out buttons, but this is a rather frustrating experience when you want to look quickly through your city. You also have the ability to use the two-fingered approach on the laptop touch pad, however using this method is tricky, and does not seem to register well within the game. It would convulse back and forth between two levels of zoom, and rarely did I end up with the level of view I wanted.
The midi-based music accompanying the game is not overly intrusive, however, being midi-based sounds, it can be rather annoying if listened to for any length of time. There isn’t too much required of sound in the game, and it seems as though little time has been spent on its development. Hopefully future versions will include more in the way of an interesting soundscape.
The graphics are adequate for an open source game, but not too far beyond the Super Nintendo version of Sim City. In slower games such as this, with a great deal of waiting, one would think that graphics would be the main focus; it is easier to hold interest with something pretty to look at.
All in all, Lin City is a beginning to an interesting game. With more development, and a greater level of detail and thought given to all aspects, it could be an enjoyable knock-off of Sim City, with some interesting twists. At the moment, it does not feel fully realized.