Parkasaurus - Full Release Review


Parkasaurus is a game which I covered a couple of times way back when.  After 2 years in early access this indie dino park management sim has finally graduated to full release as of 13th August 2020.  What's changed since the last review at the start of early access, and do I still think the game offers value for money? 

 

Developed by small Canadian studio Washbear games (the team is only 2 people), Parkasaurus sees you build and manage zoo style parks populated with dinosaur exhibits.  If you play through the campaign there is a loose story that dinosaurs have returned to Earth from space and as you successfully complete the campaign maps you are rewarded with parts to repair their ship. 

 

The campaign is one of the big additions during the later part of early access, and for those who completed it there are 3 new scenarios added with the 1.0 update.  You access these through the ever familiar World Map screen which management game devs are really loving just now (see Two Point Hospital, Parkitect and Overcrowd).  The first mission you need to play is the tutorial which is the usual fare - move your camera, build a fence, get your first dino etc.  After completing this, the campaign isn't strictly linear, allowing you to select any of the unlocked scenarios (based on how many ship parts your have managed to achieve).  


The campaign map showing available scenarios (only the tutorial for me just now) and buffs purchased with ship parts earned for succeding in objectives

Each of these scenarios comes with it's own set of objectives and challenges, for example, in one of the first scenarios based in Toronto you can't edit the placed scenery or in the Tropical Island scenario you can't edit terrain which is under water and you are provided with a dinosaur egg for a Parasaurolophus which requires a tundra biome which you cannot satisfy the full satisfaction requirements for at the beginning. 

 

There are two research trees within the game, one based on science points from scientists, funnily enough, and one based on hearts which are awarded based on dino happiness each day.  As the campaign is non-linear and you may complete the scenarios in a different order to someone else, the research is limited to those maps.  This goes more in line with games such as the RCT series, as opposed to Overcrowd or Two Point Hospital in which your research carries with you.  This has positives and negatives as it would be entirely possible to max out the research trees in your first few scenarios and have no real progression rewards, but on the flip side it can feel like you have done a lot of work to lose those rewards.  


The Toronto scenario - build your park around the city but you need to leave the homes in placeAdd caption
In addition to the campaign, the game also has a custom game mode.  This combines the normal and sandbox modes from the start of early access.  In this mode you can alter a number of starting parameters for the game, such as starting cash, whether research is required or all items are unlocked, or whether the terrain is flat or bumpy.  One major improvement to this area of the game during early access is that higher tier items do not lock out lower tiers.  For example, previously if your researched a tier 2 bench the tier 1 bench was no longer available.  From a management aspect this did sort of make sense as the higher tiered items have benefits, for example allowing guests to regain energy faster, however it did stifle creativity somewhat as you may want to place different benches for aesthetics. 
 

Other improvements to scenery have included removal of hit boxes on a number of items, such as pergolas and shades allowing additional scenery to be placed under these, the addition of bridges and raised walkways, improvements to chain light placement and a number of additional scenery items added through the past two years.   


For the 1.0 release there is also a new exhibit theme system, along with a handful of new scenery items to accompany it.  This allows you to select one of 6 themes for your exhibits including prehistoric, spooky and Eden.  These require you to fulfil a number of criteria when designing your enclosures and reward you with buffs such as higher appeal, lower food consumption and a visual effect unique to that theme.  Whilst I wouldn't use these in every exhibit, they do break up the park quite nicely and add a new aspect to choosing how to lay out your exhibits.


An enclosure with the Eden theme which makes breeding with a Dino Nest easier and gives you pretty rainbows above the enclosure
I haven't played the game much in the second half of early access but have definitely fallen in love with the game all over again.  Whilst the game is excellent, particularly for being made by a very small team, there are a couple of things missing which I would love to see.  The main one is an undo button as the terrain can take a bit of getting used to when you are starting out.  If you are wanting to move an item, for example a bench, you can't then place it back down within it's footprint, meaning that you need to place it completely out of the way and then bring it back if you only want to move it a single tile.  The developers have also addressed a couple of big points raised by players since release with ultrawide support and custom key binding currently in development and beta in response to the feedback last week.   

I've only touched on the highlights of the game without really delving into the cute derpy art style and features for management of your dinos, such as sending a team to find fossils to create new eggs, the DNA machine to customise your dinos slightly, breeding and those awesome hats which can give your dino friends various buffs. 

 

Parkasaurus Biome
Learning how to morph a biome in the tutorial. There are 9 in the game in total, 3 for each terrain type of grass, sand and mud. To influence which biome your exhibit is, you must find the right balance of rugged terrain and water coverage, utilising the graph in the image pane.
Parkasaurus Hats
The Space Helment and Hot Dog hats on our Carontaurus. This exhibit also has the Spooky theme giving a fog effect.
More Parkasaurus Hats
Some Protoceratops sporting some nice glasses, a witch hat and a whirly cap!
Parkasaurus Overview
A bird's eye view of the park I've been working on over the past few days
Parkasaurus Lake
A view across the lake to a Prehistoric exhibit featuring an active volcano
PArkasaurus Multi Species Exhibit
A multispecies Prairie Biome exhibit featuring Gastonia, T Rex (with a friendly trait) and brachiosaurus
Parkasaurus Raised Walkways
Raised walkways allow guests to pass over exhibits if there is something they wish to get to on the other side
Parkasaurus T-Rex
Tyr(e)anosurus Rex? A young T-Rex playing with an old tyre
Parkasuarus End Of Day Summery
The end of day summary showing income, expenditure and a handy heatmap to show where your guests have been, or areas they are missing

 

Despite my few minor annoyances I am having a great amount of fun in this game and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys management or creative gameplay.  At less than £20 the game has a good amount of content and is also pretty accessible provided you pay attention to the tutorial.  This definitely still gets a 'Buy it Now' from me.  You can grab the game on Steam or Discord via the official server.



Parkasaurus - Full Release Review Parkasaurus - Full Release Review Reviewed by Parcival on August 17, 2020 Rating: 5

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