Parkitect is a theme park simulation game developed by Texel Raptor. It is available on Steam and humble bundle. The humble bundle link is a referral, I get a small commission if you purchase the game through it. This game was reviewed by Joseph Pugh.
Parkitect puts you in the big comfy armchair of, well, a Parkitect. It’s up to you to design, run and manage a theme park of your own creation. You can do this via a campaign mode, or just by building your own park from scratch. Campaign mode has you creating a park in a variety of goal-oriented levels. You can also build one in a free play mode with a set of stock maps or ones you have unlocked from the campaign. If you are feeling particularly creative you can even make your own map and scenario.
Parkitect gives you a ton of easy to use tools to make the theme park you always dreamt about, but were too poor to visit. The controls are very intuitive and it’s easy to build and design anything in the game.
Whether you are building your parks layout, fancy custom structures, queue entrances or full-blown rollercoasters. You will never find yourself struggling and fighting with the controls and camera. Texel Raptor did an incredible job in delivering you a wide array of ways to customize your park while making them a breeze to learn and to utilize
In Parkitect you can truly customize everything. You can alter the geography and terrain, make lakes, place trees, flowers, and props and of course build roller coasters. But the customization isn’t just for your own artistic enjoyment, it doubles back to the simulation aspects of the game.
The park guests are fully simulated, they each have needs such as hunger and tiredness, and also have their own personalities. They enjoy different levels of ride intensity, carry a different amount of cash and have quirks such as being a litterbug or impatient. You have to make a conscious effort to design your parks and coasters in a way that makes them happy. Place benches and offer caffeinated drink shops to help them stave off exhaustion and stay in your park longer. Hide away maintenance paths and worker buildings behind scenery or custom made structures to keep them immersed in your park and more willing to spend money. Provide a variety of attractions that cater to different intensities so that every type of guests has something to ride.
Build water rides for when its hot, and enclosed ones for when it rains. The game’s systems are very inclusive of each other. While you can build beautifully for the sake of your own enjoyment, its also reflected back mechanically in the game and truly rewards you for the effort you put in.
Part of keeping guests happy is keeping them immersed in your park. This means that they like to see nice scenery and custom structures. But also means keeping them unaware of all the behind the scenes magic that goes on to keep your park running. Trash cans can overflow and bathrooms need to be cleaned by janitors. They physically have to transport the bags of garbage.
You need to hire security guards to give vandals the boot and mechanics to make sure rides don’t stay broken down for long. Every shop you build has to be manually stocked with inventory by your haulers. Guests don’t like seeing them carry the crates around.
You can build staff rooms for your workers and you create them paths that are specific to them. You can build trash chutes and depots closer to where your janitors and haulers need to be. But your guests sneer at the sight of all of it. So you have to get creative in your placement, use of scenery and custom building design to keep your guests believing they are in a magical wonderland of fun.
Parkitect can be played as a creative sandbox if you wish. You can play in free play with goals, money, and research, or you can choose to disable it all and just build. It’s up to you. But if you enjoy simulation games for more then making creative designs, Parkitect doesn’t skimp at all on the simulation aspects. Guests and staff are physical entities and things work in a logical manner.
Building roller coasters is fun and easy to learn, if hard to master. Guests prefer different levels of intensity’s and you will have to meticulously design your coasters to get the desired effect. Or you can take the lazy route of throwing down one of the stock blueprinted ones, I won’t judge. But if you do build your own, you can make them very elaborate, but you have to monitor your vertical and lateral Gs as you are designing it.
There are some handy tools that mark where your coasters are showing the most G-forces so you can tweak them as needed. Smoothing out drops, banking turns and whatever else. I also found out the hard way that your guests can be killed if you turn out to be a terrible designer. This came as a surprise given the colorful and cheery nature of the game.
I built one coaster in particular that had two trains, but while one was loading passengers in the station, the second one came in to quickly and slammed into it, putting the colorful little guest’s deaths on my hands. It could have avoided it. I just needed a couple sets of brakes placed behind the station. But I never bothered to actually test the coaster, just opened it right up. Remember, don’t be like Gideon. Measure twice, cut once. Or your guests die in a horrific death and ruins everyone’s vacation trip
The good news is when you build a something suitably awesome. You can blueprint it for use later making sure that no effort was wasted.
The campaign has you taking on a variety of goal-oriented levels. The goals aren’t particularly interesting, usually having a number of guests in your park at once, ticket sales, happiness ratings, that sort of thing.
But they keep you on your toes well enough. The problem with the campaign is the games design sort of conflicts with it. Parkitect wants you to take your time and build elaborately designed parks, innovative coasters, custom structures, and gorgeous scenery.
And while doing those things controls easily, it’s time-consuming. Its hard to justify spending so much time on that kind of design when each level will be completed in a few hours and you will be onto the next park and starting again. Since beating the levels unlocks the level for use in free play, I often found myself trying to find a way to cheese the system and continue. Instead of playing and building organically.
The game really shines in free play where you are playing with the intent of sticking with each park for a while. And really, as long as you have money, research and goals enabled. Free play isn’t all that different from the campaign gameplay wise. If you ever want to build without worrying about the sim aspects, you can turn it all off.
The game gives you a large variety of coasters, shops, and scenery to build. But I found the variety of normal calm and thrill rides somewhat lacking by comparison. I also was disappointed to find that I couldn’t ride my own attractions, something that’s existed in other theme park tycoon games. However those are really minor annoyances on an otherwise incredibly well-designed video game.
Parkitect gives you far more control over things then I expected. A lot of simulation games these days are nothing more than glorified park builders with little to no sim aspects to in them. I was pleasantly surprised that I could set the price to enter the park, and for each ride. I could alter what each shop carries and how much. If I wanted, I could spend money on a variety of marketing campaigns to bring guests in, and I could pick what was researched and how much to spend on it.
You can alter the cars of your coaster and how many are on each train, change all the coloring and lights, you can set specific zones for each of your staff to work in and you can even do market research on your guests. Parkitect lets you go as deep as you want and rewards you for doing so. But gives you options not to if you aren’t in the mood. It is a great park designer, and an excellent simulation game that deserves to sit alongside many of the old greats we grew up with.
If you like simulation games, but want something with teeth. Check out my review of RimWorld.
- Easy to learn intuitive controls
- In-depth simulation aspects
- Insane amount of freedom and customization options for your park
- Flexible free play mode lets you play however you want
- Workshop integration for easy mod use.
- Awesome blueprint system lets you save entire designs, including paths and scenery, with a coaster.
- Uninteresting campaign
- Lacking variety of standard calm and thrill rides
- No option to ride your coasters from a guest perspective.
- No swimming pools and few water rides.