Reviewed on PC
When Planet Coaster burst onto the scene two years ago with promises of bringing back the theme park management sim, everyone was hyped out of their minds. The magic of the original Rollercoaster Tycoon trilogy is nothing short of ethereal, a truly wonderful feeling that puts you in the role of a theme park God purely focused on providing as much fun as possible… or creating horrifying instruments of high-speed death.
On launch, Planet Coaster was amazing, but Rollercoaster Tycoon it was not. The beautiful 3D graphics and a huge suite of customization tools were fantastic, but those who get off on micro-managing every tiny factor of their park’s finances, research, and trash disposal weren’t getting the experience they really wanted. Over time, Planet Coaster has improved as a management game and, through over a year of early access so has Parkitect, but how is the finished product?
I’m pleased to say that Parkitect’s methodical management gameplay is as plodding and enjoyable as ever. What was great in the earlier builds has been multiplied tenfold. It still retains many of the early access niggles that continue to persevere – graphical glitches and small bugs don’t put a dent into the fun too much and any larger problems can be solved with a quick revert back to an earlier save file.
Dropping down buildings, linking them together, decorating the surrounding environment and then realizing your guests hate everything forcing you to tear everything down and start from scratch has never been so easy. Accessibility in management games is rarely a focus, but I found it remarkably easy to get into the groove of the game’s multiple overlaying systems. The complexity of true management is there for you to experience later on, but it’s remarkably easy to understand. The fun but simplistic campaign is also there to help.
There are still a lot of moments where you’ll find yourself screaming, “Do I not please you?! What am I doing wrong, tiny virtual theme parks guests?!” but there are systems in place to make sure you never get completely lost. If your supercilious guests don’t enjoy the virtual paradise you’ve painstakingly created for them, handy visualizations like decoration mode help you to figure out just what part of your park is wrong. Most guests don’t like seeing the janitors and stock depots that keep your park running in tip-top shape, so you’ll have to work hard to hide them.
The emphasis Parkitect has on making sure that magic of your theme park is truly alive and well in the hearts and minds of your tiny guests can sometimes ruin the magic for yourself – kinda like how you want to work as a Disneyland princess until you are working as a Disneyland princess. It’s a fine line that management games dare to cross, and Parkitect just about manages to stay on the tightrope. Much like Planet Coaster, it rests firmly in a healthy middle – one that makes the definitive Rollercoaster Tycoon experience.
There are still issues here, some that are fixed by mods, some that are not. The in-game tools used to build your coasters are unwieldy to use compared to their contemporaries. Far too often did I wish I could swap the game’s isometric camera for a fully independent one as judging the proper height levels between objects can be quite difficult when building coasters.
With such a large and dedicated fanbase, many objects and fixes are available through the Steam Workshop, including mods for first person camera mods. If you have issues, it’s possible they’ll be addressed through mods, but that’s not a plus for the base game. Many of these mods should be implemented.
Parkitect is a brilliant and beautiful theme park simulator that’s absolutely brimming with content. While most of your time will be spent in the game’s sandbox mode, there is a handy little campaign that will help you learn the ropes. When you get into the groove of building, Parkitect proves itself as one of the best games in the genre – it stands side-by-side with Planet Coaster and Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 as an example of why we love theme park sims.