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Planet Coaster: Review

As we enter February, PlayStation network subscribers are gifted with monthly freebies, much like every other month. However, this time we have a sparkly gem from Frontier Development, known for their tycoon experiences and their extremely detailed space sim, Elite Dangerous.

This Month’s PS5 entry is Planet Coaster: Console edition, and as a fan of Theme Park World, I was excited to crack this open. Planet Coaster was released in 2016 with the aim of pushing theme park simulation to the next generation in both structure and style, but did it accomplish this?

With a stunning art style that showcases toon like characters and themes, this colourful simulator can truly paint a beautiful picture for any creator. Each Building, Ride, character and decoration has had an enormous amount of effort put into detail, making this one of the most stunning looking tycoon games available.

Planet coaster is designed to allow you to manage and navigate a space of your own creation, whether in challenge mode (free play) or on career mode. The goal is to plan out your ideal theme park and ultimately lead it and your staff into profit and history.

The best start for any player is to jump straight into career mode, where you will be met by a handful of voice-acted characters to be guided through the park management process. Although the tutorial is quite straightforward, there are some details that would be difficult to find by jumping straight into challenge mode. The characters are very informative in this first step, however, the highlight is the previously mentioned voice acting. The personalities of your teachers shine through in this mode and are even humorous at times. Overall, the tutorial is a short but pleasant experience and as you move through the career mode your management gurus pop up to discuss your progress.

The goal of Career mode aside from learning to play the game in various scenarios is also to build your in-game rank. As you progress through each park’s 3 tiered goals you will increase your ranking, unlocking different scenarios and parks to test your skills. The increased difficulty will lead you to putting more time into each park and although this can seem tedious the satisfaction of profit is a worthy trophy.

It also goes without saying that through staff management and training the park can eventually manage itself. This may lack the flare that some games have in victory, but as a father, I can honestly say there’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing someone learn to hold their own.

The customization Planet Coaster has in both terrain, park layout and even rides is a truly satisfying experience. Although there are some restrictions to some of the crazier ideas I had in the coaster blueprints, there isn’t much you can’t do.

As I moved through the ranks and built the parks into self-managed marvels, I was feeling very therapeutic. After 40 minutes of building, planning, testing and managing, the staff would act in sync and the park would run like clockwork.

The park management system allows you to see your parks statistics, showcasing profit and staff/visitors’ opinions. This simple but useful system allows you to plan, direct and edit any behind the scenes stats, giving you full control of your creation.

Planet Coaster was a wonderful experience that showcased how a business-focused game can be visually appealing and satisfying. This game is a £50 investment without PSN and I can’t say that I would pay that for what it is, which in my opinion is a therapeutic business sim (although it’s cheaper than actual therapy).

However, whether you’re a PSN subscriber or not, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a relaxed experience watching their creations grow.

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