Because building a Dino Park is a completely good idea
Developer: Washbear Studio
Publisher: Washbear Studio
Release Date: 25 Sep, 2018
Parkasaurus is an Early Access management game – released into EA a year ago today! – where the player is tasked with the building of a zoo where, instead of animals, there are dinosaurs. To do this the player not only has to manage the park itself but also recover ancient artifacts using a time machine and do some research.
I named my Dino Park… “Dino Park”, because of imagination, then built the first exhibit. Each exhibit holds on different types of dinosaurs and must contain the appropriate biomes: these can be handmade by the player by placing one of three tiles (grass, sand, mud) and eventual slopes and water to modify it. There are a total of nine biomes: Forest, Rainforest, Taiga, Desert, Praire, Savanna, Tundra, Alpine and Swamp.
Each type of dinosaur will live in its biome, so it is important to modify the terrain suitably to its needs. Besides that, the management of the dinosaurs it’s nothing difficult: you feed them either vegetables or meat and hire a veterinarian that will keep them clean and healthy, sometimes you give them toys and other dinosaurs to play with… And that’s it: the main problem with the management of these ancient lizards lies in the fact that they require very little attention, even when they’re carnivores. One would think that closing one (or more) dinos into an exhibit would be hard to do but, instead, if the biome is right and big enough, everything’s fine. The game in this regard could be so much deeper but is instead as shallow as a puddle.
There are TONS of different dinosaurs in Parkasaurus: ranging from the classic T-Rex to the less known Ornithomimus. Another problem of the game lies within the big number of species: they are a lot but feel all the same! Graphically each one is different and each one requires a different biome and exhibit size, but it goes as far as that, and this kills not only the feeling of progression but also the replayability of the game.
Back to the future
The game features a travel-back-in-time system to recover the artifacts used to recreate the dinosaurs that will then live in our park. This, while cool on paper, is more basic than I thought it would’ve been: you send some of your staff back in time and they return sometimes later. When this happens it triggers a minigame where the player has to dig a grid on the screen to find the artifacts. Each staff member sent on the expedition will contribute with a set of moves to the digging, with the most common ones being the 1×1 squares dig.
The artifacts are then used, along with gems, to generate dino eggs that can be later positioned in an exhibit and hatched (an egg incubator would’ve been great in this regard). After the dino is born, it grows over time in size, becoming stronger… and also eating more.
This is my park, there are many like it, but this one is mine
Personalization of the park is decent: you get a good amount of objects, structures and instruments for the customization, but the number of useful structures is on the lower side and I hope new ones will be added during the developing process. Customization could be also be improved by adding more elements to the game, like glass corridors hovering the exhibits where the dinosaurs are. Very basic stuff that isn’t yet implemented into the game, but will hopefully be.
Some words on the graphics
In the graphics side Parkasaurus is, actually, pretty good. The game features a simple and very cartoonish graphical style that is both visually appealing and lightweight on the hardware. When zooming out is nice to see the park in its entirety and the movement between and in the exhibits. Technically some animations should be redone, like those of researching scientists, but it’s nothing too bad for an Early Access game.
The game is actually on its 0.63 version, with an update featuring dino breeding and scenarios for the campaign coming soon. Between the planned features it’s possible to find a more advanced AI for the dinosaurs (which will hopefully also bring some more depth in their management), dinosaurs sickness and random encounters for the expeditions. There is also a “community requests” column which features some great ideas like prehistoric themed playgrounds, aquariums with water dinos and special houses for prehistoric insects.
Parkasaurus is, as of now, a base for a game that still needs development (which is the reason Early Access exists!). Both ideas and the abilities to implement them seems to be present in this project, so hopefully the game will not only gain new features, but also expand those already existing within the game. Unfortunately right now the game lacks substance but the problems highlighted in the review are nothing unsolvable during the Early Access period.