If you haven’t tried Planet Coaster yet and you’re a big fan of management or simulation games, then we’d definitely recommend it. The essence of the game is building your own park and trying to attract as many customers to it as possible; in that regard, it’s a lot like the old Theme Park series, so if you loved those games, you should already have tried this one. However, there’s a rich world of games to try that are similar to Planet Coaster, too, so if you’ve exhausted your time with Frontier’s theme park sim, there’s plenty more to get stuck into. Here are 15 great games like Planet Coaster.
1. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3
The Rollercoaster Tycoon games haven’t aged particularly well, but this third instalment is definitely where you should start if you want to try out one of the most influential management sims of all time. There is a mobile title, too, but it’s rather compromised compared to the core series. Here, you’ll find plenty of options for customising your park, building your rides, and lots of other things you might want to do in a theme park management game.
Parkitect is pretty self-consciously an attempt to pay homage to the classic Rollercoaster Tycoon series, but it’s got an indie edge that makes it feel just a little more rough and ready than those titles. Unlike other theme park games, it’s not possible to ride Parkitect’s coasters, but you can control pretty much every other element of your park, making it ideal for those who would rather tinker with numbers than watch park guests’ dreams come true (hey, no judgement).
Frontier Developments presided over this game, too, and their expertise shows. It’s not really a management sim; rather, you’re tasked with building a series of ridiculous theme park rides to spec, and you must make sure they’re built correctly. It’s more of a puzzle title than a simulation, but its beautiful graphics and irresistible puzzle design speak to Frontier’s experience making games like this. Give this one a try if you’d rather be a bit more hands-on in your theme park.
4. Snowtopia: Ski Resort Builder
“Like Planet Coaster, but for ski resorts”. That’s how we’d describe Snowtopia in a nutshell. It doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles that Planet Coaster has, but it does let you build your very own ski resort, complete with facilities like tea rooms and soup bars. It’s got a more rough and ready visual style than Planet Coaster, too, but if a slightly more “indie” presentation style doesn’t bother you too much, you should definitely check out Snowtopia.
Imagine a sort of cartoony, child-friendly take on Jurassic Park, and you have Parkasaurus. Your goal is to build the world’s ultimate dinosaur theme park, but this time, your dinosaurs aren’t going to get loose and eat everyone. Instead, you simply have to balance their needs with those of your guests, so you need to make sure you’re building a park that is simultaneously entertaining for guests and humane and welcoming for the dinosaurs as well.
6. Jurassic World Evolution
Frontier Developments really does have a monopoly on great simulation games, doesn’t it? Jurassic World Evolution is another example of that dominance. It’s a licensed game based on the Jurassic Park IP, and much like Parkasaurus, your goal is to construct a dinosaur theme park that your guests are going to love. Here, though, you’ll need to balance the needs of your guests, the dinosaurs themselves, the scientists who want to study them, and the park guards who want everyone to be safe.
7. Thrillville: Off the Rails
Hey, look – it’s yet another Frontier game! Thrillville: Off the Rails is actually a followup to the 2006 game Thrillville, and this one sees you building and maintaining the titular Thrillville theme parks. You must decide where to place attractions and how to manage the park, and you’ll also gain access to fun minigames that you can engage with when you’ve had enough of putting your accountancy hat on. Naturally, there’s also a rollercoaster editor, so you can build the coaster of your dreams.
8. Planet Zoo
Planet Zoo is, as you might expect, brought to you by the same folks who created Planet Coaster, only this time, it’s all about building and maintaining the perfect zoo. There’s a heavy emphasis on conservation and environmentally-friendly zookeeping here; you must make sure that your animals are well-fed, well-cared for, and never unhappy, because your primary mission in Planet Zoo is to make sure that the animals are safe. Of course, you’ll still need to keep your guests in mind!
9. Wildlife Park 3
Just like Planet Zoo, your mission in Wildlife Park 3, should you choose to accept it, is to build and maintain a fully-functioning wildlife park. You’ll be able to exhibit all kinds of animals, from lions to elephants and everything in between, all while making sure that you’ve designed the right kind of enclosures to keep them happy. You will also need to design your zoo, create buildings and ensure that guests have an entertaining experience while they’re visiting your park.
10. Cities: Skylines
If you, like many other gamers, were disappointed by EA’s 2013 SimCity reboot, then Cities: Skylines is probably where you sought solace. This management sim sees you taking control of a city and running it on a day-to-day basis, ensuring that its citizens have what they want and expanding it so that it becomes prosperous. There are, as you might imagine, many, many expansions to check out as well, adding all kinds of content from green initiatives to universities.
11. Espresso Tycoon
Have you ever wanted to run your own coffee shop? Well, thanks to Espresso Tycoon, now you can. You’ll be able to create your own coffee brand, hire and manage as many employees as you feel you can take on, and grow your shop, watching as customers pour in and your empire expands. There’s also a rather intriguing free mission for the game that serves as a sort of prologue, and what’s more, it takes place entirely underwater, which is curious.
If you miss the halcyon days of the Theme series – Theme Hospital, Theme Park, et cetera – then Two Point Hospital should help to scratch that itch somewhat. It doesn’t quite offer the same level of depth and complexity that Planet Coaster does, but it’s a great hospital management sim that sees you taking over and running a hectic hospital. There are plenty of comedy diseases to manage (you won’t find any depressing realistic maladies here), so get stuck in if you’re looking for something more lighthearted.
13. Two Point Campus
Much like Two Point Hospital, Two Point Campus is a wacky management sim that doesn’t take itself too seriously, although this time it’s all about taking over a university campus. Students can apply to study lots of invented courses (much like Hospital’s diseases, they’re entirely made up so as to avoid any uncomfortable clashes with real life), and you’ll need to make sure that the campus is well-staffed and that it has everything it needs to continue running smoothly.
If you’re looking for something on the more casual end of management sims, ZooKeeper should more than suffice. It’s a more simplistic affair than its contemporaries; you can still build and maintain a bustling and thriving zoo, but there’s less to worry about than you might find in other zoo games, and the low-poly aesthetic does a lot to make the game feel more relaxing and less stressful than management games can sometimes feel. Check this one out if you need to kick back a little.
15. Academia: School Simulator
Finally, we have a school sim that takes a lot of cues from Prison Architect, including the overall aesthetic. Published by simulation giants Paradox Interactive, Academia tasks you with building and running a great school. Of course, if you see fit, you can also run an absolutely terrible school, letting your students run amok and do whatever they want to. That’s the beauty of Academia; its open-ended nature and emphasis on player freedom effectively open it up for you to take it as seriously (or otherwise) as you want.
The slate of simulation games that are available right now is pretty impressive, and there are more on the way, too. We didn’t include games like Bandai Namco’s upcoming Park Beyond or PlayWay’s promising-looking Rollercoaster Mechanic, simply because they aren’t out yet and we don’t know if they’re going to stand the tests of quality and time. Hopefully, though, you should have found more than enough to go on if you’re looking for some exciting management games to play while you wait for more theme park games to arrive. Which theme park titles have we missed on this list? What’s your go-to theme park game for when you want to relax?