A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Planet Zoo is a zoo simulation that challenges you to take care of the animals and successfully run the zoo. That means managing the health of the animals while keeping guests and employees happy.
Positive Role Models
There isn't a protagonist in this game. You're (invisibly) in control of the zoo, animals, and people -- from an angled top-down perspective – and must build and populate a zoo for visitors.
Ease of Play
The game starts off slow enough for you to learn the mechanics, including adjusting the 3D camera to zoom in and out and twist around for a different view of the action. That said, there are some confusig elements to the user-interface that could complicate things.
Violence & Scariness
Placing animals inside enclosures with predators, like tigers, will usually result in the animals fighting and one will kill the other. On a related note, you can also streak the ground with blood, place frozen blood inside pumpkins for animals, and raw meat and organs can be seen in feeding pens, too.
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There's no inappropriate language, but there's "crude humor" as animals will often relieve themselves on the ground, and in one instance, a guide says something like "Some of them are bursting for the toilet."
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Products & Purchases
There's optional DLC (downloadable content) from Steam.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Planet Zoo is a downloadable zoo simulation for Windows PCs that simulates what it's like building and running a zoo. You must take care of the animals, keep humans happy (visitors and employees) and be profitable with your tourist attraction. If the wrong animals are placed together (like a predator and prey) it will likely lead to a violent altercation and death. Some blood can be seen, but it's mostly for feeding purposes. Animals may defecate on the ground, and there's some crude humor in the dialogue. There's also some downloadable content (or DLC) to expand the gameplay with new animals.
Is It Any Good?
This is a unique game that can be deeply rewarding, but you need to be a little patient with it because of slow progression and a confusing interface at times. Planet Zoo is as beautiful as it is deep, and the rendered animals are a marvel to look at. Not only are the graphics impressive, but the animals' behavior is fun to watch. It's great to expand your zoo, building new enclosures and attractions. The main mode has tutorials to help you along, so it's where you should start to learn the ropes. You'll refer to your Zoopedia to make sure you're putting the animals in the most ideal environment, with a proper male to female ratio for the species, with the correct temperature, and right terrain and plants (and other animals perhaps). You'll research what to feed or water them, how often, and so on. You get the idea. Get it wrong and your creatures will die or protesters may picket about the inhumane conditions at your zoo!
It can be a pain looking up all this information as there could be many screens and sub-menus. Perhaps the developers could've offered voice support to ask questions, or the option to type in something specific for a quick answer. You also can't look up animals until they're in your zoo already, which seems odd. Another issue is constructing buildings, which sometimes didn't work, and it wasn't clear why, although a recent patch seems to have fixed this issue. Other small problems were tied to A.I. pathfinding – sometimes employees didn't know where to go unless you helped them out or animals were stuck somewhere, but the game mostly gets it right. Overall, Planet Zoo is a super deep and enjoyable simulation for animal lovers and management sim enthusiasts alike.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.