Published on June 10th, 2019 | by Scott De Lacy
House Flipper – Review (PC)
Summary: House flipper's formulaic play style is quickly exhausted, leaving you with nothing but the memory of the time you wasted playing it.
House flipping is a popular term for somebody who buys run-down or neglected properties that may need some renovation, paint and TLC. They fix it up and quickly sell it on for further profit.
House flipper the game attempts to capture this premise and present it as a game. Unfortunately the concept doesn’t win any marks for realism and its similarities to actual house flipping are few.
The game style is purely point and click action, you right click to select the appropriate tools such as sledge hammer, paint brush or outside the building you have some gardening tools such as a line trimmer. In all cases performing the action requires aiming to specific items or portions of a wall or grass and clicking away. Other specific actions require aiming the pointer and pressing the “E” key.
Your faceless, nameless character is first presented in a small shack on a large plot of land in the middle of suburbia. This is your home/office and you start out with limited funds. Amazingly, you have a number of emails offering you small renovation and handyman jobs, which earn you decent money. Before too long, specifically around 10 or so jobs, you earn enough to purchase a small property and make basic repairs.
The properties listed for sale are presented on your laptop as though it was an online ad. Some photos are available, but you purchase it with a click, sight-unseen and get straight to work. You also have ‘buyers’, these buyers each have their own preferences, such as family based homes, swinging singles, or elderly-friendly. As you make repairs, improvements and add furniture from the store, the buyers will comment and express their like or dislike for your decision. This is merely an indicator of who is more likely to buy your property at auction time.
The game dynamics are very straightforward, the more you spend on improvements, the more likely you are to fetch a good price. But any improvement is better than none and early on, simply cutting the grass and installing heaters and painting the walls is enough to turn a tidy profit. But either way the house will sell.
As your bank balance starts to head towards $500,000 you start to see larger properties become available. The formulaic approach however remains the same. Head in, cut the grass, pull the weeds, plant a garden appealing to any buyer, enter a garden competition to adjust the value multiplier, install the heaters and missing fixtures, paint the dirty walls, clean the windows, add curtains or blinds, furnish and sell. Some of the homes are already mostly furnished, so they can be a time saver. And yes, you can re-purchase the same house..
Unfortunately this game is just a big letdown. There is some appeal of the unknown and appealing to ones greed but it can only go so far.
Strikingly, there is just no risk in this game. You can’t fail. Properties always sell, even if you don’t have a kitchen or toilet in the house. No problem. But perhaps the argument might be made that it’s not about the money, it’s about the game – the golf argument. That would be fine, yet there are a slew of issues with the game that distract, infuriate or just remove all sense of realism completely, that it makes you question what the direction of the game was intended to be. The game is full of mindless busywork that consumes your time, hurts your wrist and doesn’t offer any real reward for work.
Here are some of the highlights:
- All plots of land are huge, and all the same size despite the property size
- All lawns must be cut with a line trimmer, tiny piece by tiny piece, it takes a long time
- Weeds must be removed, one at a time and there are always heaps
- Garden surfaces can’t be placed evenly, looks horrible when used in small areas
- You are unable to change exterior walls or windows. Ie you cannot extend the size of the home in any way shape or form
- Paint colour does not fully match the shop description, no colour chart differentiating the colour tones, so you have to paint with each shade to find the one you want
- Many items in the store have one-line descriptions and can be difficult to place
- Doors can be placed but not moved, have to be manually lined up rather than snap lock to correct position
- Bunker door bugged. causes erratic behaviour, position shifting and cannot be placed
- Wall blemish detailing and dirt etc redraws on each wall after each paint stroke / tile application
- Inconsistent lighting and shading from unexplained sources
- Outdoor lights exist, but switches don’t turn them on
- Difficult action triggers, got to stand and aim exactly to plant trees etc
- Buyers respond incorrectly to placed objects, respond delayed to items placed and removed making the feature almost useless
- “Installation objects” (buildable) orientation cannot be determined easily when placed.
- No undo button, but you can sell items for less then you paid for them
Interestingly, there is at least one Easter egg in the game, whereby you purchase a haunted house, arrive at night and have some very scary interactions; especially when you are confused about what is going on and simply don’t expect it. It was a nice touch, very clever but completely out of place for this type of game in how the game is presented.
The graphics of this game, the 3d objects and their details all look great, but the rendering is resource heavy, the constant redraw of all surfaces after each and every brush stroke of paint, and drop in frame rate when rotating and manipulating some objects, indicates that there is perhaps some optimisation required.
The theme music is adequate and the sound effects are well suited but not noteworthy.
This game does not break new ground, nor does it seem to have coherent cohesive playability. Real house flippers or home renovators will likely balk at the game as unrealistic and wanting, whereas others will tire of the busywork and lack of direction and goals. Yes you can make a lot of money, but there is no challenge to overcome, no learning curve of the perils of house flipping, and its formulaic playstyle is quickly exhausted, leaving you with nothing but the memory of the time you wasted playing it.