Having recently completed my own home renovations, I felt like this was the perfect time to exhibit my
finely crafted skills of tiling, plumbing, electrical wiring, building and painting. I reached out to boys at Frozen District and they presented me with my biggest challenge yet- House Flipper. What better way to demonstrate my renovation skills than in the virtual world of House Flipper? Well, I did learn one thing quickly. House Flipper is MUCH more fun and addictive than your own own home renovations!
House Flipper is exactly as it sounds- You buy run down houses, fix them up and flip them off for a nice profit. Sounds simple, right? You begin the game with your very own ‘house’. I use the term ‘house’ loosely as it more resembles a tiny run-down shack. This house serves as your HQ, allowing you to browse the market for potential houses to flip, manage your properties and book jobs via your laptop. Now it’s time to make some $$$, you start the game by accepting odd jobs. These jobs introduce you to the rest of the fundamentals of the game- Cleaning, Demolition, Construction, Plastering, Tiling, Painting and Decoration. Once you earn enough money, you switch on your laptop and search the market for your first house to flip. Here you will use your newly honed skills and give her some much needed TLC. The key to flipping a house is to appeal to the buyers that may be interested. You do this by accessing your tablet and reading what your clients want in their property. Some clients will want a single bedroom, one bathroom and space for their books. While a family may want multiple bedrooms, carport and at least two bathrooms. Once you’ve identified your potential buyers, you can begin planning the scope of your project. At first, you’ll simply clean it up, give it a coat of paint, some new appliances and a few decorations and flip it for a nice little profit. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself knocking down walls and converting that big bedroom in to a bedroom with an ensuite, planning a custom kitchen with plenty of cupboard space and ensuring your newly renovated house satisfies every requirement of your clients request to ensure a big payday. This is where the addiction begins.
Small indie developers continue to amaze me, and House Flipper is no exception. It’s a polished game that is developed by a small team located in Poland (get my pun?) called Empyrean. Empyrean was established in 2010 by CEO Kris Krej and have since established a solid resume of releases. To compliment 2018’s release of House Flipper, Empyrean have finally released the much anticipated (and much needed) DLC Garden Flipper. Garden Flipper compliments the base game by adding plenty of content that includes the ability clean up the yards, style each garden to suit potential buyers and establish the outdoor area of their properties. These features, or at least some resemblance of these features, are desperately needed in the base game, something I’ll touch on later.
At first, I really enjoyed the gameplay of House Flipper. Learning how to build walls, tile the kitchen and install a shower was fun. After a flipping a few houses, tiling walls became a chore. Installing a shower became a time-consuming nuisance and painting became as mundane and boring as it is in real life. But then you’d sell the property, see the $$$ in your bank account and suddenly, you’re browsing the market for bigger houses to flip and see that revenue increase. The first-person view (complete with minimap) is a great choice for this game, it makes me feel like I should be watching my six so I don’t get flanked, like I constantly experience in CS:GO. Obviously there’s no automatic weapons in House Flipper, but I still took great satisfaction is swinging my sledgehammer around destroying every wall I could find. Watching my players hands using his trowel to collect plaster to fill up cracks and watching the roller on my paint brush expand as it absorbed paint was all great. One unexpected surprise was that this House Restoration Simulator also incorporates RPG elements into its core. Once you’ve done a certain task enough times, you then unlock points in that category that can be used on various abilities to make that task more efficient. For example, once you’ve unlocked a point in painting, you can then use this point to make painting 50% faster, or paint two walls at once, or use less paint. After completing all the renovations inside my first house I was damn proud, the extra down lights really highlighted the paint scheme, the new appliances popped out in the kitchen and bathroom and there wasn’t a spiderweb in sight. Time to move outside and tidy up that overgrown lawn, trim those hedges and plant some new plants to complete my renovations. I honestly couldn’t believe that you couldn’t even trim the grass, there’s nothing you can do outside- AT ALL. You can’t clean up, mow, trim or even water your garden. I was extremely disappointed and honestly, surprised. I then found out about the Garden Flipper DLC and it all makes sense now. What doesn’t make sense is Garden Flipper DLC is PAID DLC and isn’t exactly cheap, especially for something that should of been included in the base game.
It was extremely satisfying at the end of the reno’s to sit back, take a tour of my newly polished up house and simply, admire my work. This is largely due to House Flipper utilizing Unity Engine, and it was a damn good choice. It’s quite a visually good looking game, but you’d be disappointed if the graphics were sub-par, as the world only consists of one house at any given time. Unfortunately, House Flipper does need some further optimization, as you will experience the occasional FPS drops throughout the game, even with a beefy rig. With the addition of Garden Flipper, I’d expect there would be some additional frame-rate issues, but nothing that would ruin your experience.
It took me a few hours to figure out where I’ve heard a majority of the music from, but I’m pretty sure I’ve nailed it. Picture yourself walking into a hotel. You check-in to the hotel and head towards the nearest elevator. You’re standing there for what feels like an eternity, waiting for the doors to open up. You finally hear a ‘ding’ as the elevator doors open. It’s late at night and it’s disturbingly quiet, so you cautiously walk into the elevator and quickly turn around to press the close door button. Suddenly, you hear the familiar tune of every god-damn elevator you’ve ever stepped foot in! I swear House Flipper is playing the ‘Best of the elevator music volumes 1,2 & 3’ on repeat. I mean, this is great for all you elevator music fans. But for the rest world’s population (around 99.98%) would of appreciated some more variety. That being said, sound effects are much in the same vein and are in whole- forgettable. It’s hard to judge the quality of audio for House Flipper as music and sound effects are much a bi-product of the genre and not what simulation games are developed for.
- GAMEPLAY - 76%76%
- GRAPHICS - 73%73%
- AUDIO - 55%55%
House Flipper is a good game, but it could of been even better with some basic gardening functions and a story mode. It’s strangely addictive and oddly satisfying, so much so that I’m about jump back on it and start my next reno!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed House Flipper. It’s much cheaper than renovating your own home and i still have some hair that isn’t grey! I must say though, It’s definitely not for everyone. It’s a unique game that becomes addictive as soon as you begin turning a profit and moving onto some of the bigger, and even some famous houses. The addition of Garden Flipper DLC is a good addition. It adds plenty of features (some should of been included in the base game) and increases the replayability of House Flipper. It would have been great if this was free, but it does add a decent amount of content and really completes your renovations. It’s clear the developers have put a lot of effort and thought into this game, and this is reflected by its ‘Mostly Positive’ rating on Steam. House Flipper is more-or-less an open sandbox experience.
I can’t help but feel if there was a story mode, or more backstory included in the main game mode then it would immerse the player more in the game. In saying that though, If you like a gorgeous, slow-paced game that is relaxing and extremely satisfying… then I have great news, House Flipper is for you!
For more on House Flipper, check out our previous coverage.