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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Feature rich
  • Freedom of play style
  • Light on Hard Drive space

Might Not Like

  • Low graphics
  • Can appear overwhelming

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Let’s Build A Zoo Review

let's build a zoo

What To Expect

If you haven’t guessed it yet by it’s title Let's Build A Zoo sees you build a zoo. Surprise!

Unoriginal title aside there was something about the way this game appears that made me hesitant about trying it out. You won’t be getting a graphical masterpiece here, and at first glance the game looks simplistic compared to other titles such as “Planet zoo” or “Zoo tycoon”. But if you are thinking it’s just another zoo management game with a Stardew coat of paint over it, then think again.

From the first moment you open the main in game menu (LT on Xbox) you realise that this game has a lot of parts to it. In fact there are so many it can seem a little overwhelming. This is a management simulator to the extreme. Everything can be micromanaged from your entry fee to the cuts of meat used in your hotdogs. Even the buses that bring the guests to your zoo can be managed by setting up bus routes to various towns.

New Player Experience

When you first fire up the game you are greeted by your investor who communicates with you via text box and talks you through some of the very basic principles of the game. As time goes on more people pop up to teach you a little more through a series of assignments. Everything is gradually introduced whilst not restricting your game play. Want to build a gift shop before you are told? No problem, go ahead, plop it down. In fact you could probably ignore these assignments completely if you were so inclined. But these assignments don’t disappear, giving you constant goals to reach for long after the more tutorialised assignments are over and done with.

Animals

Whilst working your way through these tasks you will be gifted with your first animals, a pair of rabbits. Yes, rabbits, that classic zoo staple. Before you know it the game will have you set up with all your fluffy bunnies needs. These cute little fluff balls come in a male and female pair, and they breed. They don’t just breed, they breed like, well, rabbits.

It’s the breeding that sets the path for acquiring more animals. You see, the rabbit offspring don’t always look like their parents, and you slowly grow a collection of breeds of bunny. Heading to the world map allows you to obtain new animals by either buying already acquired breeds from the shelter, or by trading one of your rarer breeds for a common breed of a completely new species.

This trading system is the main way in which you gain new animals, and it makes for a steady trickle of new animals and a slow expanse of your zoo. But it’s not so slow that you feel like you are hanging around waiting. The game does a great job of keeping you involved.

Once you unlock the nursery in the research tree you can even force two varieties of an animal to reproduce creating a brand new breed of one of your animal types, and use this technique to earn your way to new unlocks, so you don’t even have to hang around waiting for the animals to do their thing, you can simply just choose animal pairs to breed their way to your success.

Once all varieties of an animal are unlocked you can cross breed them with another complete different species. So before you know it you can have a Rabbaroo (a Rabbit with a Kangaroo head) bounding around in all it’s horrifying glory. This of course attracts more guests that want to see the cute, the ugly, and the down right strange. But it also highlights the humour of the game.

Humour

With all these sliders, systems and micromanagement you’d think ‘let’s build a zoo’ would be a serious management game. You’d be right, but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously. Think Two Point Hospital (or campus). But the existence of terrifying cross breeds is not the only place humour is injected into this game, you’ll also find things such as geese bouncing vigorously on trampolines, sometimes 5 at a time, and sliders on food stalls with choices such as fine cut meat or eyes and tails.

Little nuggets of comedy are found everywhere, but the game never sacrifices humour for depth of gameplay.

This Game’s Got Gorals

Let’s build a zoo doesn’t stop at the basics of a management simulator, it has a morality system too. Yes, you read that right, it has a morality system. The game spits out events every so often to which you have to react. Depending on your choices in these events depends on whether you gain or lose morality.

There are also characters who visit your zoo that you can interact with, such as the black market trader. Make a trade with him by either selling your animals or buying one of his cross species animals and you’ll lose morality. Likewise if you report him to the authorities then you will gain morality. “But how does this effect my game?” I hear you ask. Well certain research items on your research tree (which is expansive) are locked behind morality checks, and as such your zoo takes a slightly different characteristic based on your moral choices.

Control Scheme

I can’t speak for the control scheme on PC, but you can imagine that a game like this would work extremely well on a mouse and keyboard. But it’s often this type of game that doesn’t translate well to a controller. However I can honestly say that I have found the controls intuitive and well thought out.

You still have a cursor controlled by the thumb stick which works better than I’d ever have expected. It feels smooth and accurate. Only once had I selected the wrong thing by mistake but that was because one of my animals walked beneath my cursor just as I hit the A button to select its enclosure. The only flaw I have actually found with this system is side scrolling around the map can often feel a little on the slow side.

Graphics

Now let’s address the elephant in the room (pun intended). Let’s build a zoo is not a graphical masterpiece, and nor does it pretend to be. If you judged this game on graphics alone, like I first did, then you are going to think it’s a shallow game with very little to it. The fact is a game doesn’t have to be a photorealistic trip into another world to be great. In fact I have played plenty of games where the opposite has been true.

But the gameplay built in here more than makes up for the lack of photo realism. If anything it has allowed the developer to add more to their game without having to sacrifice other areas. This game is bound to run smooth and take up miles less space on your hard drive this way, and the graphics here actually do have their charm. Don’t write this off for what first meets the eye.

Final Thoughts

Let’s build a zoo is a feature full game that can seem a little daunting at first, but also one in which not every feature must be used. This would be a great game for a casual player or for someone more hardcore in their management simulation. I truly believe that there is likely something for everyone here. Even if you hate animals then this game has something for you.

If you really struggle with things being a little 2D on the graphic front then, maybe you should pass this one, but if you can even remotely look past that, then this is a game full of hours of enjoyment.

That concludes our thoughts on Let's Build A Zoo. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Let's Build A Zoo today click here!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Feature rich
  • Freedom of play style
  • Light on Hard Drive space

Might not like

  • Low graphics
  • Can appear overwhelming

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