Parkasaurus is a cute looking but deceptively deep park management game from Washbear Studio a company that describe themselves as two friends who have been making games in their spare time for over a decade.
The games developers had previously worked at Drinkbox Studios and had a hand in Guacamelee!, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack and Severed.
The idea for Parkasaurus originated from one of the WashBear wives. She had made a binder full of ideas for a dinosaur management game which was made from coloured construction paper and this is how the Parkasaurus prototype was created. The game is built using the recently updated Unity Engine and they say Parkasaurus is crafted with heart, stress, and puppies on our laps.
Playing the game I can believe everything about this last statement. You can feel the joy in this game from its tongue in cheek opening through to the collapse of your park through mismanagement and stupidity.
Parkasaurus is unashamedly a serious management game that despite its cutesy look will draw you in and steal the hours from you without a second thought. Expand the park, start an expedition to get new dinos, feed them, hire the staff, make sure the park layout is efficient, ooh a hat for my Stegosaur, add more paths, make sure the dinos are fed again, add more privacy tiles or they may escape, get more dinos, check the guests are happy, build food stalls and places for shelter, feed the dinos, hire more scientists and before you know it three hours have passed by and you have missed lunch. I will eat later, right now I have some upgrades to do.
There is so much to research and so much to do that you will feel overwhelmed for at least the first few hours but as you play you will start to feel comfortable, know what needs to be done and have a plan on the best way to do it.
You will have to organise your exhibits for each dinosaur type and there is a lot to manage, the shape of the exhibit, materials you use, the ecology, plants, humidity and even the elevation will have an impact on how successful and therefore how happy your dinosaurs are.
One of the biggest differences between doing well and doing badly is managing your guests. You can click on individual guests and then prioritise your upgrades to maximise the revenue per guest. This is something I am struggling to do as it seems everyone wants something different but over time and with enough guests checked you will get an overview of what you should be doing next. If you keep your guests happy then they are more likely to donate money.
You can hire a whole host of staff and you will be able to level them up and with the right team your job of park manager will be far easier.
At all times you will have an expedition in the past and once they arrive at the dig site there is a mini-game which sees you attempting to uncover as many bones and footprints of dinos as you can. It’s a cross between Tetris and minesweeper and It’s a really good idea implemented well. Its simple but maximising your take from each mission is critical to a successful hunt.
It wouldn’t be a dinosaur park game without some escapes and if you don’t keep your dinos happy they will have a little rampage. Its quite a forgiving mechanic in the early stages and you get plenty of warning its about to happen however, I can see this becoming a problem late game.
Something I really like about Parkasaurus is the way the weather changes from season to season. It’s not just the aesthetic change the weather has an impact and its this level of detail that shows how much care and passion is behind this title.
Building the enclosures takes great care, you first have to work out what species is going inside. Once there you need to think about what you need for this species to be happy, water, rocks, privacy, space, trees etc. The first dinosaur you will aquire will be a triceratops. He needs a rainforest, so you will have to make a rainforest biome, then he will be unhappy because he is bored, you need to get some toys to entertain him. As he grows you may need more space or a mate or any number of things to keep him happy.
I played for a while with my son. He was drawn to the colourful graphics but he found the game very complicated and I could not have left him playing alone. Instead we accessorised a few dinosaurs which he found fantastic. Doing this reminded me a little of one of his favourite games, Viva Pinata.
After we played together I realised that this placed Parkasaurus in an awkward position. Would the cutesy graphics appeal to gamers who couldn’t understand the game? I took a look at the Steam reviews and currently the game has an overwhelmingly positive score. Reading through the reviews it seems as though Parkasaurus appeals to adults just as much as it does the younger generation.
Parkasaurus is a really well thought out game, it’s deep and accessible all at the same time. I have enjoyed playing it with my son and daughter and I like the attitude of the developers. I have no issues recommending my friends to buy this title already and I would say if you are interested in this game you would be very pleased with your purchase.
I have an interview to write for the developers and encourage you to come back and read that, more importantly, look out for the full review when the game releases.