This title is exclusive to PC and was reviewed as such.
Do you like dinosaurs? Do you like park tycoons? Do you like shooting your own guests with sleeping darts before setting your carnivore dinosaurs loose? Well you definitely need to visit a psychologist. But for now, the developers at Washbear have you covered with an amazing nugget of fun called Parkasaurus. So how does it play?
Parkasaurus is deep. No I mean like REALLY, REALLY deep. While the game gives you the basics, the tutorial leaves a lot to be desired. It took me 10 hours of trial and error to get a grasp of the many mechanics of the game. So buckle up and allow me to explain in hopes you have a smoother experience.
-Exhibits: These are enclosures that you set by making boxed up spaces with your fences. Don’t forget to put at least one door so workers can access it.
–Biomes: Using the Terrain and Scenery tabs, you can morph any given Exhibit to one of 9 different biomes. From rainforests to deserts, each biome is suitable for a certain type of dinosaurs. Please don’t put carnivores with the herbivores –it doesn’t end well.
–Entertainment: Using the Buildings tab, you can find all faculties needed to build your theme park. Decorations, facilities or the numerous buildings to scrap every last penny out of your customers; there is a huge variety of things to research –more on this later- and build. All of these combined can raise the appeal of your park to ensure people keep coming. Charge them low at first until you become famous and then make them pay for your retirement in one day.
–Workers: There 4 different employees to hire. Janitor: fixes damaged fences and keeps your park clean. Scientists: find fossils around the map when not assigned or be used in different facilities to generate Science Points (SP). Vegetarian: Keeps your dinosaurs healthy and fills their feeder – which you need to place inside the exhibit, depending if herbivore or carnivore. Security: They patrol your park and are on standby for any breakout. You can also go first person to control a security guard, allowing you to use their sleeping darts gun.
This is where you basically get your fossils needed to make your dinosaurs. Using this function, you can send expeditions to excavate footprints or skulls of a selected Family. There are 6 different families with varying number of dinosaurs, amounting to 23 in total to discover and breed. You can also find coins while digging to get a nice sum of money. Having more scientists –up to 4, can help you in your efforts. While the puzzle game is somewhat fun, it can be tedious after doing it a few hundred times.
-Science Points: Using SP, you can research 50 different technologies to improve your Park. Researching a technology can branch out to new ones that grant new bonuses or buildings to enjoy. These can be acquired by scientists in designated facilities or some buildings that guests can use.
-Hearts: Keeping your dinosaurs friends happy grants you a heart or two per dinosaurs at the end of each day. These can be used in the Heart Tab to research new families –bigger and better, as well as quality of life buildings that improve your exhibits.
-Herbs & Meat: These will be used by Vegetarians to refill the feeders in each exhibit. We don’t want our dino friends to starve, do we? You can make daily orders in the town shop so that vans deliver a package at the start of each day. These pre-orders are a good way to relax on having to manually buy these every few minutes. They will be taxed on delivery.
-Money: Your bread and butter. Hire employees, build stuff, buy food and most importantly: purchase Hats for your grown up dinosaurs.
Office: In your office you can access:
-Resumes: In this tab you can hire employees. While it shows you an employee’s three main stats: Speed, Ability and Personality, the game does nothing to explain what effects those stats have. Some would think it’s self explanatory but in a game this complex, you never know.
-Park Info: Find all relevant stats concerning your park, including guests’ feedback and reviews.
-Calendar: Doesn’t do much beyond showing you the weather for the following week. So far the weather system isn’t implemented, so you will have to wait for the final version to judge. As of right now, weather doesn’t change much in term of gameplay or difficulty.
-DinoBook: This is somewhat of an achievement or journal tab where you can claim rewards for completing some objectives. This could be more fleshed out so people don’t miss out on those rewards (like I did for the first 5 hours of the game).
-Vegetable/Meat Shop: You buy your herbs and meat here and also have the option to set up daily orders to be delivered at your doorstep. A Big benefit would be if the game informed you about the dinosaurs consumption of both resources. For now you just have to judge by how fast you run out of either.
-Gems: Starting with one gem, you can buy up to 4 types as you progress. While they share the same skull and footprint, better dinos of any given Family require better gems to create. Wish I knew this before spending 8 hours playing – but then again, I’m a bit dense.
-Eggs: Combining gems, skulls and footprints, this is where you can create dinosaurs’ eggs.
-Hats: Unlocking new technologies in the Science tab can sometimes open up new types of hat for you to buy. Hats are found in the inventory once bought or acquired. To dress a dinosaur with a hat, your roaring friend must be an adult first. If that’s the case then you click on your dinosaur, switching to Info tab where you’ll find the hat slot, open up your inventory and drop the desired hat in that slot. Tada, your Fedora wearing T-Rex now can wreck havoc with style!
For an Early Access title, Parkasaurus delivers a huge amount of content. The best part is that it runs smoothly and I crossed no bugs throughout my 10 hours of playing. Perhaps minor details such as dinosaurs or characters walking over water tiles but nothing major. It only started to stutter when I built over 40% of the available map –and the map is HUGE. Sound and graphics are pleasant for the ears and eyes respectively, though nothing to write home about –and frankly the fun in this game makes up for it and then some.
If I could give any tips to the developers on how to improve, it would be the following:
Allow the player to sell the extra skulls and footprints to make a profit on the side – even for a small amount of money if you fear it being exploited. A more intuitive and in-depth tutorial for the final product would help beginners to stick around. Allow players to build more entry booths, I reached mid-game and I had as many people outside waiting as guests inside – I had to triple my entry fee to discourage large numbers of visitors. Quality of life tweaks such as allowing to mass plant trees or bushes, etc.