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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Easy to learn and play
  • Satisfying
  • Meditative
  • Quirky stories

Might Not Like

  • Flat graphics
  • Can get old quickly
  • Controls feel clunky
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

House Flipper Review

House Flipper

It must be made known that this blog does not offer advice on the reality of flipping.

House Flipper is a game about flipping houses. What, you ask, is flipping a house? Flipping a house is an Americanism for renovating a destitute wreck and then ‘flipping’ or converting all that hard work into a sale that amounts to more than the purchase price and renovation costs. This additional profit is built, and like compound interest, can rise, outrageously so, the more one flips.

The game begins as all simulators do: from the very bottom. You start in a small studio home; litter strewn across the floor; floors mucky and walls unpainted. The outside of the house fares similarly: cracking wood and dirty guttering. This is, however, an opportunity to learn.

House Flipper does an admirable job of introducing you to the basics, and it does so by refraining from jargon vomiting on you. Simulators are an acquired taste. Not much happens in them, so you’ve got to be comfortable with your imagination, willing to persevere or derive enjoyment from repetitive gameplay.

In House Flipper there is no such beginning. There isn’t a long-winded tutorial that seeks to explain the entire game or introduce you to elaborate game mechanics that will ‘eventually’ become fun. The game begins by going through a few basics, and I mean basics. There’s no handholding here, just simple prompts like, ‘Press this button to open the menu’. Essentially, the least number of buttons you need to get the game started.

It's A Hard Mop Life

Once you know how to mop up some spills and navigate the game menus, you’ll be able to access a laptop on the messy desk of your house, or what the game calls your office. It’s a messy place – the satisfying word detritus springs to mind – and is more reminiscent of either a teen’s bedroom or a bachelor pad.

The laptop shows you a series of jobs. These are the bread and butter of the game and are what allow you to earn some dollar. The jobs are initially small tutorials disguised as independent learning. One job for instance was to clean a garage. This involved mopping the floor and picking up some rubbish. Without being told, I learned what rubbish was (according to the idiom of the game) and how to mop.

The Mop is your initial weapon of choice and will become a stalwart in your arsenal of renovation capabilities. Most of the jobs that you’ll be doing at the beginning of the game will predominantly revolve around picking up rubbish and mopping. This boosts your skills in those areas and introduces you to the core mechanics of the game: namely, switching between weapons, sorry, I mean implements and using those to undertake a variety of jobs, whilst applying them to your own designs.

Wheel Of Skills

Mopping is the first skill on the menu wheel. From this wheel you can select what aspect of renovating you desire to do. Initially, you’ll only have access to picking things up and mopping. You gain more skills by doing. Keep mopping those floors and you’ll accrue experience that eventually awards you with a skill point. These are all simple game mechanics designed to make you feel good and feel good you will.

Uniquely, you level-up across multiple skills. For example, the skills associated with mopping are separate to tiling, which is great. The work you’re doing will dictate how your skills grow. Because of this, in the early game, you gain skills points quite quickly. Depending on how you spend them can really aid the smoothness of the game. The skills are run of the mill, but they improve how the game plays and provide you with steady progression.

The Cost Of Progression

As you progress in House Flipper, there are certain skills that allow you to finish jobs when they’re not fully complete – this is the bodge job, rogue builder attitude and that’s just not me. But, it may be you.

By speeding through the jobs, you’ll be able to acquire your grand designs quicker – If that’s your sole goal. Jobs can be completed far quicker and the monetary rewards aren’t insignificant.

There’s a playstyle to suit everybody in House Flipper. If you enjoy pacing yourself and thrive on the minutiae – doing a job properly, slowly accumulating funds and renovating your own office – then you can do that. If you want to simulate a business and treat it as such, there’s scope to do that too. Or, as I previously mentioned, you might have the urge to design your ideal home.

The Narrative Of Renovation

As a flipper of houses, you’ll be transforming people’s dreams (or requirements) into reality. Whether it be the simple conversion of a dead Grandma’s spare room into a bathroom, or cleaning and repainting a house that has been invaded by a homeless individual with a trolley. These are the telling details of the world you’ll be renovating in.

Here, the game relies on your imagination to give these jobs meaning – however, maybe your satisfaction is derived from the accumulating bank balance and the actual mechanics of the game. These often amusingly worded emails bring another dimension of character to House Flipper and made me want to complete the jobs fully.

This tenuous narrative thread certainly doesn’t ‘make’ the game. House Flipper is much more than that. It’s a sim for starters. However, it does lend a degree of realism to a genre that is frequently detached from reality, which considering the aim of simulators, is quite ironic.

Take the magnificent Microsoft Flight Simulator for instance; there’s nothing there that ratchets you to the world. Sure, there’s flight announcements and for all intents and purposes, it’s a literal representation of planet Earth. But where is the connection? Flying is a solo experience, so I suppose that’s where the story lies. Some simplistic events, however – a birth mid-air prompting an emergency landing, or an aborted take-off after the detection of a structural fault – would have been original additions.

It’s the comic, sometimes touching (in their own way) emails that flesh-out the world of House Flipper.

Getting Stuck In

As you complete jobs, you’ll be drip-fed opportunities to learn new skills. After mopping, you’ll learn how to paint. Much like reality, you’ll learn the easier aesthetic skills before moving onto the actual craft of home renovation. Most of us know how to paint, but how many of us know how to knock down and rebuild walls without affecting the structure of a building.

Each skill is designed to feel enjoyable, give a sense of what is happening and be easily accomplished. Every skill you perform revolves around the right trigger. First, you decide what you need to do, select the skill using the handy wheel and then get to work.

A simple animation occurs, accompanied by a progress bar. Rinse and repeat until the walls are painted, or the tiles are tiled. The reality is these tasks are routine and House Flipper captures the mundanity of those tasks well.

When I speak about mundanity, I don’t mean to be dismissive of the crafts, but rather I’m praising the comfort associated with working towards a goal. Much like the writer writing a review.

Situating The Reality Of A Sim

The tone of the game is reminiscent of those rainy childhood weekends. Dad’s lying on the floor fixing a radiator all day, whilst you search for all the gems and keys in Crash Bandicoot. There’s a cup of tea that’s gone cold on the side that’s leaving a stain on the wooden table. You offer to make him another and he jokes that you didn’t leave the teabag in long enough. But he drinks it this time. Occasionally you hear some ‘Bleeding Noras’. Who is Nora and why is she bleeding?

House Flipper is a software toy. It’s a game that lets you play indefinitely with and explore the contained world of houses on your own terms. The player is encouraged to find their own solutions, which stimulates creativity. A simple sell/remove mechanic means anything can be fixed and redone easily, so there’s no need to fret for too long over what colour you want the walls. Try it out and if you’re not impressed; paint over it.

When a player creates something anew, an empathetic connection is created. This is why Minecraft has been so successful. The simplicity and dare-I-say-it, uninspiring mechanics, has the opposite effect, precisely because the developers design tools that the player can use to arrive at solutions.

Conclusion

As far as simulators go, House Flipper offers an unusual experience. Whilst it contains all the features of a simulator, it never gets too complex. So, players are rewarded with the monotonous satisfaction that most sims grant, without the complexity that’s usually inherent in this style of game.

The formula is straightforward. Do jobs, earn money, spend wisely and accrue more. All the while renovating and designing sumptuous properties and bringing your creative visions to life. Its Minecraft without the mining, crafting and media attention. It’s a humble sort of game rooted in the mundane realities of life.

The graphics are inoffensive, performance is adequate and gameplay is addictive. House Flipper’s learning curve makes it an accessible sim for all age groups and could easily be considered a gateway simulator. The secret to House Flipper is the way it blends escapism, relaxation and learning.

As someone who’d love to wield a spirit level and wear a builder’s belt around my waist – attached to which is an assortment of DIY paraphernalia – it’s safe to say, I probably never will. House Flipper is a great alternative. And I’m learning as I play.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Easy to learn and play
  • Satisfying
  • Meditative
  • Quirky stories

Might not like

  • Flat graphics
  • Can get old quickly
  • Controls feel clunky

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