Version Tested: PC (Early Access Build: Alpha 3a)
Available On: PC, Mac, Linux
Where To Buy: Steam
The public is beginning to get frustrated with Bear Island. Lines are taking too long, food is scarce, and there are not enough benches. Everyone loves the Haunted House, but nobody rides the Carousel. However, a savvy park developer knows that in one more month, the finishing touches on the greatest roller coaster of all time will be complete. They will flock to Bear Island like never before, and all that ill will shall disappear. The money will pile up, and work on the next great coaster can begin. That’s Parkitect.
Parkitect follows in the footsteps of genre greats like Theme Park and RollerCoaster Tycoon and casts you in the role of an aspiring theme park developer. It gives you control over seemingly every detail of your budding empire, and rewards you for clever thinking. Have a ride with a particularly long line? Throw some food and drink stands near the exit and jack up the prices. Put long, winding paths leading to your most popular rides and fill them with concession stands and gift shops. Do you want the people at your park to have fun, or do you want to grind every penny possible out of them?
The customization aspects of Parkitect appeal to the “Tycoon” side of the game. Everything can be renamed and modified to fit the vision of that perfect theme park. Coasters can be constructed piece by piece, allowing aspiring engineers to craft the ultimate thrill ride. If you’re more into the business side and less the customization, the game already has full Steam Workshop capabilities. Hundreds of premade roller coasters, customized rides, and new stores can be downloaded and inserted into your own theme parks. Ultimately, this community-driven customization allows for a nearly limitless variety of parks that can be made.
Ultimately, the fun in Parkitect, like in most business simulations, lies in the perfection of the machine. There is immense satisfaction from watching the little computerized people move through your park exactly the way you want them to: they stop at every vending machine, withdraw more money from the ATM, and ride every ride in succession just as you set up the park. Oftentimes, that means going back and tearing down huge, already built sections once it becomes clear that they are not efficient enough. The main issue plaguing Parkitect right now lies in the fact that perfection can be a bit too easy to achieve and, once achieved, there is not much else to do.
Part of this issue lies in the fault of Early Access. Parkitect is still very early in its development cycle, and it hits a lot of positive notes already. Some games are complete messes when early builds hit machines, and Parkitect is not one of those. It seems like a game that will use Early Access as a way to ultimately improve the final product, rather than one that tries to cut the losses of an unfinished, awful game. That being said, Parkitect can quickly lose direction for all but the most die-hard sandbox gamers. As of right now, there are no goals, no win state, and no game over state. Parkitect just… goes. Debt and overspending do not seem to matter. Surely this will change as development continues. But, as of right now, know that Parkitect is a pure sandbox game.
Aesthetically, Parkitect works but is nothing special. Sound is minimal, but each ride seems to have its own audio cues and sound effects. Graphics are sort of a retro-cartoon-blocky style and they fit the game well. They are colorful and engaging. One thing that has improved a great deal is how the game handles bigger parks. Parkitect can have thousands of individual objects on screen at once, especially when the camera is zoomed out. A lot of the performance issues are still being hammered out, but bigger parks tend to run pretty smooth even when the camera is zoomed all the way out.
Overall, Parkitect scratches that theme park builder itch that many of us have had since, well, Theme Park. It is still very raw, but the community is involved and the developers seem to respond and react well. They listen to criticism and keep lines of communication open and available. It will need to pull out all the stops to make an impact as it finishes nears its retail release, especially when competing with something like the upcoming Planet Coaster. That said, if you want to play a fun business simulator sandbox, Parkitect is a great place to strap yourself in. It seems as if the game will only continue to improve as its Early Access period moves forward.
- Gameplay: Full on sandbox theme park development. Raise prices, build roller coasters, revel in massive profits.
- Graphics: Bright and colorful. Not technically amazing, but fits the theme and mentality of the game.
- Sound: Minimal. Every ride has unique sound effects, but generally just sounds like a crowd walking around.
- Presentation: Can be tough to find certain menu options, and not everything is intuitive. Plenty of graphs and statistics for theme park tycoons to analyze.
- Lots of graphs and statistics to allow park optimization.
- Bright, colorful graphics.
- Steam Workshop offers huge variety of rides and shops.
- Satisfaction in setting up a good system.
- Can get aimless.
- Lack of story/goals/end state (most likely this is an Early Access issue).
- Minimal sound/music.