I hope I’m not alone when I say that I binge-play games; not all games, mind you – usually a select few from my childhood, like retro classics.
One of them is the original Roller Coaster Tycoon, which was so well done that they honestly didn’t need to bother with sequels, as nothing could really compare; nevertheless, they’re usually enjoyable in their own right. So when I was given Parkitect to review, I was excited because it had been so long since I had last binged on Roller Coaster Tycoon. I was eager to see if they had improved upon the classic that I’ve held dear to my heart for a long time.
Parkitect, developed and published by Texel Raptor, is currently in Alpha Early Access and is therefore a work in progress; still, it’s surprisingly polished for something so early in its development. Taking an overwhelming amount of cues from the original Roller Coaster Tycoon, it almost runs like the game I fell in love with…almost.
Like any “Tycoon” title, players take the role of an omnipotent and omnipresent ruler of the realm – this one being a theme park. At this stage in development, there is only one huge open plot of land to forever play upon in freeplay mode. If the developers intend to take yet another page out of Roller Coaster Tycoon’s book, we can expect actual goals in the future, but for now players are left to their own devices in the ultimate amusement park sandbox – a new roller coaster empire awaits!
Designing a theme park is the basic (see: only) premise, and players are given $25,000 to build from the ground up. Literally nothing is up and running upon first click, so it’s up to the players to get moving on their own. There’s a plethora of rides to choose from, including haunted houses, monorails, ferris wheels, and, of course, roller coasters! A fair number of roller coasters come pre-fabricated, but there is an option to design if the player so chooses. I recommend at least trying this once, because there are boundless options for making the rides of childhood dreams come true.
A theme park is not just its rides
Parkitect also included the need for the other important aspects, including staff, concession stands, bathrooms, pathways, scenery, and benches. Even landscaping the terrain is an option, which makes it easier to make the world’s largest roller coasters. The possibilities are endless.
Some new features that appear to be unique are quite interesting: there’s fun-o-vision, for example, which allows players to see which customers are having fun and which customers are angry. There’s also the ability to highlight a particular customer’s path to see every step they’ve taken in the park. Clicking on customers will show you their pocket’s contents (which we’ve learned from Skyrim is perfectly legal). One that really threw me off was the concession stands – I bought a few, only to be baffled by how to stock them. It took me a good five minutes to figure out that I needed to hire haulers to physically bring shipments of food and goods to the park! Of all the added new features, that one seemed a bit unnecessary, but it was still a fun, new part of the challenge.
Controls take some time to get used to – I had to keep reminding myself not to right-click, as that can initiate deleting a building or ride. I also couldn’t figure out how to change the direction my rides were facing for the longest time, which resulted in a very poorly planned park. Designing the roller coasters needs a bit of work as well – I spent a lot of time creating a log flume ride only to struggle to figure out how to activate a specific block of the ride. I ended up randomly clicking around in desperation until I finally made it back to the desired piece. It…could use a little finessing but I wouldn’t dock it too hard. It is still in alpha, after all.
One thing I think definitely needs a bit of tweaking is the ride menu. When I wanted to build a new ride, the menu box would pop up in the middle of the screen for convenience. When I chose the ride I wanted, the menu box did not disappear, making it impossible to place the ride in the middle of the screen. I had to move the menu box each time, which was a little annoying. My suggestion to the developers is to have the menu box disappear when the desired ride is chosen and allow it to be called back with a right-click.
I don’t think Parkitect offered the same caliber of enjoyment that Roller Coaster Tycoon did, but it’s fun in its own way. I still had a great time playing it and see myself wasting many hours of my life on my new theme park, regardless of the aforementioned issues. It’s a great way to de-stress and definitely a game I recommend. The replay value is ridiculously high – as someone who’s played these games for a good decade, I can attest to that.
Perhaps it’s not the game it could be at this point in time, but I have a lot of hope for it – it’ll get there. I look forward to what Parkitect has to offer in the future and eagerly await the much-needed adjustments to tweak it into perfection.