Earlier this week the free PlayStation Plus games for February went live. While the ludicrously titled Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep: A Wonderlands One-shot Adventure seems to be the game generating the most initial interest, the real star of the selection is Planet Coaster: Console Edition.
As someone fortunate enough to have owned Planet Coaster since day one, I can confidently say it isn’t just the best game of the three offered by PlayStation Plus this month (the third being UFC 4), it’s one of the best PS5 games, period.
While February is shaping up to be a busy month for PS5 owners with Dying Light 2 already out, and Horizon Forbbiden West and Elden Ring just around the corner, I implore you to make some time in your gaming schedule for Planet Coaster. You won’t regret it, allow me to explain why…
Don’t overlook Planet Coaster on PS5
Planet Coaster comes from developer Frontier, if that name sound vaguely familiar it’s because it’s the same team that created the legendary RollerCoaster Tycoon series. Planet Coaster is very much the logical evolution of that franchise just under a different name.
Like the classic RCT games, in Planet Coaster you’re tasked with building a theme park and ensuring that your guests are having the best time possible. Happy guests spend more money, which means you can afford to build more attractions and earn even more cash to carry on adding rides to your park, and the cycle continues. It’s a highly satisfying gameplay loop.
If you don’t fancy dealing with the stress of having to accrue funds before you can start building, you can jump into sandbox mode. Here you’re instantly given access to everything the game has to offer and can build rollercoasters and detailed scenery without any restrictions on your spending.
Speaking of coasters, if the name didn’t give it away, the true joy of Planet Coaster is constructing your very own thrill rides. You can easily lose hours designing a single coaster as there’s so much freedom. The building tools might seem a little overwhelming at first, but don’t worry there’s a very useful playable tutorial that will get you up to speed on the basics.
And, yes, if you’re the devilish type you can indeed build coasters that are specifically designed to crash. In fact, there’s even a PlayStation trophy awarded for masterminding a coaster crash involving 300 park guests or more.
The game also has really vibrant overall presentation. From the jaunty menu music to the comical mascots that wander around your park, Planet Coaster just oozes charm. It’s definitely not pushing the PS5 hardware to its limits, but it’s one of the most visually appealing games on the whole console.
The team at Frontier has also done a seriously impressive job translating the game's control scheme to the DualSense controller. Management simulation games typically control best with a keyboard and mouse, but Planet Coaster plays remarkably well even on a gamepad. You’ll soon be laying down coaster track and creating snaking pathways with ease.
Plus, it’s the PS5 version of the game that is being given away by PlayStation Plus this month which is a very good thing. Planet Coaster on PS4 has a fairly harsh limit on the number of objects you can place in any single park. Thankfully, this limit is significantly increased on the next-gen version of the game.
A perfectly pleasant change of pace
Another reason that I personally love Planet Coaster is that it’s a fairly relaxing game. There is a career mode that offers specific challenges to complete, some of which are pretty tough, but you can always opt for sandbox mode if you’d rather play without any fixed objectives.
Since its original release last November, I’ve used Planet Coaster as a sort of video game palate cleanser. Whenever I’m burnt out on open-world grinding, or frustrated after a poor performance in a multiplayer game, I’ll turn to Planet Coaster to destress. It works every time.
Management simulation games definitely aren’t for everyone, but if you have nostalgia for the classic RollerCoaster Tycoon series, or just love a good theme park, there’s no reason not to give Planet Coaster a chance. You might be surprised how quickly it gets its hooks into you.