Rabbits Are An Economic Powerhouse

HIGH Plenty of options for customizing and tweaking.

LOW Menus aren’t very intuitive.

WTF I dressed the stray dog up as a lion.

Let’s Build a Zoo is a game that embraces being a game. What I mean by this is that it forgoes the pomp and circumstance and extra fluff other titles might add to give a sense of ‘realism’, and instead gets straight to the mechanics and gameplay. Starting a file lets the player choose a preset avatar, name their zoo, and then it puts them to work building their vision in less than a minute.

The visuals use a bright and charming modernized 16-bit, top-down art style. Animations are fluid, and the graphics are well-utilized to sculpt distinguishing details for the hundreds of animals in the game. Colors are vibrant, and each object has enough attention to detail so that buildings and even smaller animals are fairly easy to tell apart.

Players begin with a single square plot of land that gives enough room for a few enclosures and shops. As things progress, more options become available, including buying neighboring land plots to expand the zoo or getting new baby animals which can produce new variants or be traded with other zoos for totally new species to display.

A major tool for progression is the research center. This can be built early on and generates points over time that can be put toward new shops, toys for animals, or facilities that open up other options for structuring the zoo. A simple quest system which involves getting quests from NPCs based on certain criteria (time or animals, etc.) can be used as a guide for advancing the campaign.

Income is a major focus of the game’s design, as it drives how much the player is able to do at any given time. This is reinforced by a daily report showing income, and a weekly report which covers a more in-depth look at the costs incurred from the previous seven days and any remaining profits. Money is spent on building structures, buying animals from the shelter, hiring employees, and various other choices.

These options are also tied into Let’s Build a Zoo‘s morality system, which connects to some decisions including upgrades found through research or random events offered through zoo visitors. For example, an illicit animal seller may pop up and offer their services. The player can report them for good karma, or deal with them at the expense of incurring bad karma. Other karma-relevant factors include donating to local causes or slaughtering animals to sell their remains for extra cash. Gaining more karma in one direction tends to offer more “good” or “evil” options, so consciously choosing one path seems like the optimal choice.

Another great inclusion is the DNA research. Players can research animals and figure out optimal pairings to create new varieties, and can even research genomes to the point that animals can be combined into adorably horrible hybrids — elephant-headed snakes and rabbit-capybaras will help attract more customers to the zoo!

Let’s Build a Zoo is an entertaining little title that will be an enjoyable sim for any fan of the management genre. All the details and options afforded to the player show clear thought and care, and thanks to this quality, it’s quite easy to lose track of time while creating an ideal zoo full of cute crocodile-giraffe hybrids.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Springloaded and published by No More Robots. This game is available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 5 hours of play was devoted to the single-player modes. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is Not Rated. The game contains simple, cartoonish graphics. The game contains dark humor involving animals, including pixelated blood and death.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. The mouse is used for general navigation. Left-click is for making selections. Right click opens up a pause menu. ‘Esc’ key exits menus.

Mitch Z
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