House Flipper (PC)

In House Flipper, you renovate run-down houses and sell them for a profit. Your first purchase will probably be a bug-infested one-bedroom house but before long you’ll be buying mansions with garages bigger than a San Francisco apartment. There’s an inherent satisfaction in turning a property from something you need a hazmat suit to enter into a spotless family home that has bidders fighting over it at auction. Unfortunately, House Flipper doesn’t let you make the home of your dreams or anything close to it. The ridiculously small inventory of assets and a terrible selection of colors means that most of your houses end up looking much the same.

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If you’re like me and don’t have a clue where to start when renovating a house, then you should probably begin your house flipping career by completing chores in other people’s homes. These small jobs, such as painting child’s bedroom or cleaning up after a bunch of students have just vacated, act as a tutorial for the basics while also earning you a bit of extra spending money.

Once you’ve saved up enough money, you can buy the house of no-one’s dreams and get to work. The cheap houses need to be cleaned up before you can even see the floor let alone decide what color you want the carpet to be. You’ll have to vacuum up the cockroach nests, clean the floors, and plaster the walls.

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When you’ve transformed the house into a blank canvas, you’re left with the daunting task of making it into a livable home and selling it for a huge profit. There are a fixed number of buyers who have specific needs such as a two-bedroom house or a spare office. The more you cater to buyers, the more likely you are to kick-start a competitive auction when the time comes to sell. The buyers have some odd demands, such as needing televisions in multiple rooms even though that wouldn’t usually be sold with a house.

You can ignore this gamified element if you like. It’s seemingly impossible not to sell a home for a profit, so I found it much more fun to create home’s for streamers/YouTubers, complete with a decent PC and a green-screen wall. The entire process is strangely meditative. There’s something relaxing about digitally painting a wall one strip at a time or cleaning cobwebs from the walls.

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House Flipper initially appears to have plenty of options for customizing a home. You can paint walls, buy furniture, fit out bathrooms, install radiators, and even knock down walls and build new ones. This should be more than enough to keep even the less creative among us amused for countless hours. Unfortunately, once you dig a little deeper, you’ll see there are nowhere near enough customization options to make a home you’re truly proud of. For example, there are shockingly few paint colors to choose from and the ones available all look like they’re from the 16-bit era. No matter how tasteful the preview color looks, by the time you’ve slapped it on a wall you’re left with a house looking like it was designed in Mario Paint.

There are similar issues with the furniture. It’s nigh on impossible to outfit a room in matching colors. Every shade of white looks slightly different, so a bookcase might be a bright shade while the table you want alongside it has a yellow stained look to it. There’s hardly any choice of furniture, either. Only one desk is even vaguely modern looking and it’s far too small for the huge monitor that is supposed to sit on top of it.

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Furniture such as toilets, sinks, washing machines, and radiators require a little installation before they’re ready to use. All you have to do is click and hold the mouse button over a couple of highlighted spots. One click and the screw is tightened or the sink hooked up to the water supply. It’s a shame these tasks don’t require a little more thought. You have a tablet on you at all times which is used to buy items and keep an eye on your properties. This tablet could have contained instructions on how to install these items which would have been satisfying once you started doing it from memory.

The tablet also contains perks and upgrades that help the entire renovation process go a little quicker. You can paint two strips at the same time or pick up all the trash in the area with just one click instead of piece-by-piece. These improvements are welcome and let you focus on the creative part of the renovation, however this gives you more time to be aware of House Flipper‘s limited number of choices.

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House Flipper has signs of cut corners all over the place. Gardens desperately require some hard labor, and yet you can’t cut the lawn, plant flowers, or buy any outdoor furniture. You can paint the outside of your house and pick up a bit of trash, but that’s about it.

Other minor niggles suggest more playtesting was required. For some reason, it takes the same amount of tiles to fit a tiny gap above a window as it does an entire column. Painting around windows doesn’t quite line up, so you always have to fill in a tiny sliver when it would make more sense to paint the entire section in one go. Doors don’t always fit level with the wall and you can’t place furniture exactly where you want it because the game decides there’s not enough room when there clearly is.

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House Flipper could—and should— have been so much better. The complete lack of any challenge doesn’t bother me in the slightest, however the lack of creative options certainly does. Developer Empyrean has made minor improvements to House Flipper since its initial release, but I haven’t seen the added content it so desperately needs. There’s also little in the way of hidden depth with large houses requiring exactly the same skill set as the small ones.

House Flipper isn’t ready to be placed on the market. For a game that is all about customizing a property, you have far too few options to chose from and there’s a complete lack of cohesion between furniture and colors. House Flipper is appealing enough to tempt in buyers for an open viewing, but a closer inspection reveals the obvious shortcomings. As a buyer, you should either negotiate hard for a discount on the selling price or wait until the quality of the game meets the buyer’s asking price.

2/5

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