LifeisXbox’s Zookeeper review | There are plenty of zoo building and keeping games around, with Planet Zoo probably being the most popular one. And well, they do have a certain appeal to a large number of players. In case you missed it; today we’re talking about the newest addition to the genre of zoo keeping. ZooKeeper was developed by Pyramid Games and published by Gaming Factory and Ultimate Games. I was very curious to see whether or not this particular zookeeping game could differentiate itself enough to be worth looking into. For a mere 8 Euros, it could prove to be a steal. But is this how I experienced it? Let’s find out!
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- A great concept | Zookeeping is something I love doing. Hell, if it was up to me, I’d be doing a job involving animals on a daily basis. But as this is not the case, I fill this little void with zookeeping games. ZooKeeper has everything you’d expect from a zookeeping game: 7 parks to design, various animals to tend to (from sheep to stegosauruses, and yes, they could even get babies), lots of customization options, staff to hire, and so on. It’s a concept that’s proven itself valuable in the past, so it should come as no surprise that the concept of ZooKeeper is a very interesting and fun one. One thing I particularly liked in ZooKeeper, was the stars system. Just as in the Two Point games (Hospital, Campus, etc), you can gain up to three stars per zoo by completing three tasks (e.g. hire 6 staff members, reach maximum reputation, etc). Linked to these stars are some sculpture decorations that are unlocked, which is also nice as they are super cheap and add prestige to your zoo.
- Low poly art style | I’m personally a huge fan of low poly graphics. Seeing them in this zookeeping game was thus very satisfying. There’s plenty of detail, ensuring that everything looks nice and recognizable. There are a ton of plants and trees that you can plant, as well as different types of grounds and visitor attractions. The interface is well-designed, fitting in with the rest of the art style and allowing for smooth gameplay.
- Clunky building | Even though placing and moving around items was quite easy, the building of animal habitats was quite clunky, in my opinion. When creating a new habitat, you always start out with a square that you can make larger and smaller. Placing these squared spaces proved to be annoying, honestly. Of course, you could remodel them once they were placed, but I just felt like this could’ve been handled better. Meaning it would cause less frustration, which would’ve been great.
- Staff | The bigger your zoo gets, the more staff you need. Luckily, stands like the hot dog cart don’t require staff, but your animals need to be looked after. They need to be fed, played with, washed, kept healthy, and of course, someone has to clean up their poop. However, juggling the different staff members can be annoying at first. On the left side of your screen, you see all your employees. When you want to get a job done, you have to select the staff member that you want to perform said task. You can’t just have a task that needs to be completed and have the nearest employee do it; you always have to select a specific staff member. This really gets annoying and felt like a waste of time. Luckily, it does get better when you level up personnel so they start doing tasks themselves. Each employee has a certain task that they will automatically perform, based on which animals are in need of something. Another issue I had with the staff, was that you cannot automatically pay them every day. You can, for example, pay them for 7 days, but then you have to do this again and again and again. This only took a second, but it still felt like it should’ve been automated.
- Repetitive tasks | As I mentioned before, there are 7 zoos you can play through. At first, one zoo is unlocked. You start building said zoo, and by completing tasks, you gain experience and points. These points can then be used to unlock new animals, grounds, staff, and so on. At the end of the unlockables, you get to unlock the next zoo. Even though this all felt like a good idea, the variety of tasks could’ve been better. Right now, it was insanely repetitive. Tasks included picking up lost wallets, washing animals x times, playing with animals x times, feeding animals x times, paying a staff member, placing certain plants or trees, etc. You’re basically doing the same things over and over again.
What we Disliked
- Animations | Even though I highly enjoyed the simple low poly art style, the animations of the animals themselves could’ve used some more attending to. Sometimes, I saw animals walking into rocks like they were ghost animals so that was obviously wrong. And then there are the guests of the zoo. For some reason, every guest was in hurry and felt like they needed to run through the entire zoo. Not only was this very unrealistic, but it’s also so obvious on your screen, that it feels like you’re given stress somehow because of this. Maybe that’s just me, but it didn’t sit right with me. There is a fast-forward button, but I didn’t use that a lot so there should not be any running in my parks!
How long to beat the story | 20+ hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 20+ hours
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂