After the slide into tedium that was the Jurassic World Evolution experience, Early Access dino theme park management project Parkasaurus is a welcome sight indeed. I’ve just finished cooing over a flock of oviraptors so tiny they can hide under flowers in their pen, and am now working to improve my visitor experience. This involves plonking down banana stands and upgrading toilets while I fret over the daily glut of three star reviews.
The Early Access nature of the beast is making itself known, although not as aggressively as some other Early Access projects I’ve played. I think the most obvious signs of Early Access are that one game update increased the amount of food plants I had on my daily order from a dozen or so to three hundred for some reason, and that mysterious time my park suddenly had zero visitors until I reloaded a save file.
Generally, though, it’s bright, cute and easy to pick up. The core loops are there too—build a basic park, then research upgrades either with science points or happiness points from dinos. For more dinos you find the resources to unlock and create species by sending scientists to dig for fossils.
The dino encyclopedia hasn’t been implemented yet, the scenarios are not yet available, and there are a lot of systems which could do with some polish or expansion. One of the latter is the idea of giving your dinosaurs toys to play with to keep them happy. Right now there’s only one toy—a ball they can pick up and throw around. The animations for this toy and the adorable and humorous hats, glasses and so on the dinos can wear (there’s a Cone of Shame!) make me wish for more.
Each dinosaur has specific habitat and diet requirements. My park mainly consists of herbivores at the moment so I have my daily plant delivery, but the Triceratops and Stegosaurus both want the grassy, wet rainforest biome while the Styracosaurus needed me to fiddle with the elevation of muddy terrain to create an alpine area. They all need privacy, too. That means you’ll be placing grass for them to hide in and using different types of fence to balance security and visitor curiosity with dinosaur comfort.
I had one dino breakout at the start when I was experimenting with housing multiple species in one area. I ended up needing to tranquilise all my exhibits and separate them to restore order. I’ll give cohabitation another go soon, but I might beef up my security staff as a precaution before I do!
Currently, though, I’m trying to balance crowd-pleasing park upgrades and decorations with my cash flow. I mean, I’m assuming that if the situation gets dire there is always money in those banana stands, but if pop culture references betray me I’ll need to rely on the donation boxes I’ve dotted about, and my concession and merch stands for my financing.
Donations far exceed the money I make from ticket sales which is curious. I’ll be interested to see what balance the dev team settle on with that system and whether factors like the location of the boxes influence the amount you make.
Some of the food and merch you sell has an impact on other stats, which also might prove useful if I can wrangle it. For example, if a guest drinks a martini from my adult-focused Tikki Hut their desire for funnel cake (from the stand I’ve moved handily close) increases by 500%. Meanwhile, balloons covered in magic dust seem to reduce the amount those guests affect a dinosaur’s sense of privacy.
For a sense of the scope of the game as it currently stands, after about four or five hours I’ve maxed out my science and heart research trees. I could definitely keep working on my park, adding more exhibits, but this is the point where I’ll take a break and come back with the full release, currently set for around 6-8 months’ time.