A town with $1 million in debts surely does sound familiar to a lot of people nowadays. Accumulating debt is very easy without a doubt, but what can be done to pay them back? What is still a mysterious question in reality is absolutely no problem in Tourist Trap, the new building simulation by developer Zemnott. But while the idea of building attractions sounds fun, Tourist Trap turns out to be as exciting as looking for a needle in a haystack.
Your main task is to return the town of Kitschville to former glory, supported by a lot of bizarre and over-the-top characters who will provide you with new plans for attractions, amenities, and municipal buildings. You will be notified about new building plans by a light bulb above the city council, where fourteen consultants will present to you new buildings which will please their personal favorite demographic group.
The basic steps of Tourist Trap could not be easier. With the money on your account you can construct all the buildings, each of them attracting a different group of visitors of which there are five, namely families, truckers, college students, senior citizens and business professionals. Here the game’s lack of any complexity clearly shows, because the endless possibilities of customer groups with different interests is barely used at all.
You can decide on your own when to build which attraction or amenity, thereby vaguely influencing how many new visitors of a specific group you are going to attract. The attractions are actually fun, the "World’s Biggest Cowboy Boot," the "Giant Robot," "Peggy’s Peach Palace" or the "Briefcase Museum," to name but a few. But apart from look and name, the buildings do not differ greatly. Attractions cannot be upgraded, in contrast to Amenities, whose upgrades simply extend the number of tourists they can accommodate.
Every building has to be connected to the highway by a path, and buildings for business professionals even need a paved road. Sometimes a hammer will appear over certain buildings, which simply means that they need repair quickly. The longer you wait with this, the more damaged they will become, and the more money you will have to pay for the repair. Even worse are fires, because you not only have to send a fire engine, but have to repair the building afterwards, too.
Unfortunately Tourist Trap feels like an extremely light versions of similar available titles. The option to activate advertisement surely is a good idea, but with only three billboards to boost the popularity of specific attractions with only a very small effect just does not feel like a full and interesting feature. Furthermore you can construct every building where you want to, and add a great variety of rocks, trees and even a pond to change the landscape, which is basically a good thing and sounds engaging. But practically the game fails again to make good use of this potentially promising idea.
While it is vaguely stated that the addition of trees boosts the appeal of any attraction, you don’t actually have to care about that anyway, because even without this bonus appeal the game still is much too easy. In around two or three hours you will have created every possible attraction and collected the required amount of money to repay the debts of Kitschville. And what you are doing in the meantime cannot be called diversified at all – waiting for money, repairing buildings and blowing out fires, and those limited actions in a much slower pace than in similar titles.
Every once in a while you will get special challenges, for example to keep fifty senior citizens for three cycles at Kitschville, or to accumulate a certain amount of money within 30 cycles to extend the land on which you can build. Occasionally you will have to pay for uncommon expenses, or get some bonus money from generous donors, but even those small surprises are few and far between, and definitely not enough to rise the overall appeal of the game itself.
Another significant weakness of Tourist Trap are the graphics, which are as monotonous and sluggish as they can be. The buildings and the landscape are less detailed as those of similar titles, and you spend the whole campaign on the same map, which is not exactly adding any diversity. Of course it is at least something that some of the attractions are animated, but where are the tourists? The game is called Tourist Trap, the attractions display that you definitely have tourists, but Kitschville looks absolutely deserted, there is not a soul to be seen anywhere.
With that said, waiting and collecting money is not exactly what most gamers consider playing. There just is not enough to uphold the player’s interest, and instead of getting challenging in the end, Tourist Trap becomes a virtual version of "Waiting for Godot." If you are really a deep-rooted fan of building simulations it surely cannot hurt to give the trial a whirl, but don’t expect more than a very short and mildly boring pastime.