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This zoo-building game lets breed adorable animals... or turn them into handbags

Imagine opening your own zoo and the only animals you've got to show visitors are a chicken and a cow. Probably not the most exciting creatures to have on display for your guests. But if you use mad science to combine them into a Chickow, a creature with a cow's body and a chicken's head? Now you've got an exhibit worth talking about.

Let's Build a Zoo is a zoo management game where you build your zoo, staff it with workers, and fill it with over 500 types of animals from around the world. And it looks super cute, with adorable little pixelated critters bouncing around their enclosures and guests tramping around the park to gawk at them. 

But there's also a dark and twisted side to the adorable-looking game, if you happen to want to play as a deeply evil zoo manager. I'll get to that in a minute.

One exciting hook of Let's Build a Zoo is the DNA splicing feature, which lets you turn those 500 animal types into hundreds of thousands by mixing up their genes in your lab. If your exhibits are a bit on the bland side, just take a crocodile, a duck, and some science, and whip up a crocoduck. Dr. Moreau would be proud.

(Image credit: No More Robots)

Playing god with animal DNA sounds fun, if not exactly ethical. And it sounds like Let's Build a Zoo is going to be keeping tabs on just how evil you might be planning to get:

"Sure, you can build a loving environment for your animals, guests and staff," reads the press release sent to PC Gamer, "but with a fully-fledged morality system, you have the choice to go down an evil path, work your staff to the bone, and essentially turn your zoo into a meat factory."

An adorable pixelated zoo management game with a morality system? I'm definitely interested, and the potential for evil looks like it includes using your alligators to make handbags, your chickens to make drumsticks, and your pigs to make bacon. And potentially far worse, as you can see in this gameplay video:

Let's Build a Zoo is being developed by Springloaded Games and published by No More Robots (Descenders and Hypnospace Outlaw) and it's due to release sometime this summer. There's also a closed beta "happening very soon." You can sign up for the beta here, there's an official site to visit as well.

Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring stories in RPGs so he can make up his own.