Let’s Build a Zoo (Switch) Review
Although simple at first glance, Let’s Build a Zoo is much more than your average park building game; packed with cuteness and humour in equal measure, it’s easy to get addicted to this gem.
You start in a fairly typical way, opening a new zoo and getting a couple of rabbits, but the game quickly reveals its quirky nature. One of the best features of this game, in my opinion, is how animals interact with their environments, and the first thing you’re able to do is put a trampoline in their enclosures. Every enclosure I’ve built has one as it is one of my greatest joys watching a pig, snake or tortoise jumping up and down happily on them. Every enrichment item I have placed in the enclosures has been delightful, though I will say my guests still complain that my animals are bored.
As much as I enjoy Let’s Build a Zoo, and truly I do, it’s not without flaws. Firstly, the tutorial could have used some fleshing out. I know, I never thought I’d say it either, but frequently I found myself not knowing how to do things like adding water to my enclosures and adding staff. The major problem I had though was money — the price of buying more land and buses ramps up so fast and I found myself stuck in a cycle. I needed more visitors to buy buses, but I needed more buses to pick up the visitors. Meanwhile, I’m still desperately trying to expand and run my zoo. Along with this, you can be forced to take out a loan at the end of the week, yet I couldn’t find a way to manually repay it off, nor could I take one when I actually needed one, so I just have this debt that sits there now I guess?
Let’s get back to the meat of the game… literally, the animals. Let’s Build a Zoo really delivers on the variety of animals you can house. An important aspect of this game is the different species variants of each animal, making it feel like there are many more types of animals than there are since often the visual differences are stark. Finding all the species variants is a huge task; you can breed your animals in the Nursery, rescue new animals and trade with other zoos to find them. It’s definitely something that will keep you hooked for a long time.
But why would I want to find every species variant of Goose? Well, let me tell you about an incredible little invention called the Splicer — oh yes, this game lets you create beautiful or terrible new creatures by splicing two animals together. Once you’ve found enough variants of a species, you’re able to splice it with another (or itself) and it is wonderful. This is where Let’s Build a Zoo sets itself apart from other similar games, for me at least, whatever two animals you wanna squish together, you can — as long as you have enough genetic information of course.
You might be thinking that playing mad scientist with animals might not be okay morally, but don’t worry, Let’s Build a Zoo has that covered too. A fun mechanic I’ve enjoyed greatly is the Morality point system, the decisions you make impact your score and in turn, change what you can unlock in the Research Tree. Sometimes a black-market animal dealer or an eco-terrorist will approach you and you have to decide what to do about their offers, but it’s not always big decisions, often it’s whether or not you use green energy and recycle or if you want to use a furnace to burn your garbage. The more down one road you go, the more options you have, and whilst I’ve only explored the good side (yes, I’m one of those people) they both seem interesting and fun.
Overall Let’s Build a Zoo is a great refresh of the park building genre. It allows you the freedom to make whatever type of zoo you want, in a way that feels fun yet not overwhelming. The designs are adorable, the music is catchy and sweet, the gameplay is beautifully smooth, and it’s challenging enough — but still relaxing and highly addictive.
+ ANIMALS ON TRAMPOLINES
+ Splicing animals together to make new animals
+ Excellent freedom to run and design a zoo the way you want
- Buses and Land become exponentially expensive too quickly
- It’s easy to get stuck in a money/bus/visitor cycle
- The tutorial could be a little clearer and cover more topics