When I was a child, I spent hours and hours in The Sims creating and decorating houses to be just right. It was really fun, but there was always a feeling of detachment looking at it from above. I wanted to experience customizing houses on the ground, personally. House Flipper scratches that itch for me. Developed by Polish Indie Developer Empyrean, House Flipper is, unsurprisingly, a game about flipping houses. The main goal being in four parts: earn money to buy house, flip house, sell house for profit, and buy new house. It’s simple, repetitive, and, depending on your point of view, either excessively boring or the best thing ever.
The main gameplay consists of cleaning, painting, installing appliances, furnishing each room and performing other tasks that would get a craphole house ready to live in. Yes, live in, not sell. I made the mistake first time I played to leave room for a buyer’s furniture and got an earful for not purchasing a bookshelf. All of these tasks are mostly painless usually clicking either the mouse or keys. The right mouse button is a wheel of all available tools, and tab is a tablet to upgrade your tools and purchase necessary materials like paints, furniture, floor tiles, etc. I found that there was enough variation in activities not to be tedious, but it’s still methodical enough to be a relaxing way to spend evenings.
House Flipper breaks up these actions with camera-locked segments, consisting of window-washing and weirdly complicated appliance installation. At first they feel like a bizarre deviation from the main play, but soon the different controls and prompts will become second nature. My only issues with gameplay came from the window-washing minigame where the window covers a larger area than an average mousepad does, causing me to constantly lift my mouse and reset it.
There are also contract jobs with prescribed completion criteria. These aren’t as fun as free customization, but you will need to do a few to purchase your first house. They also are handy if you don’t make enough money to buy the next house up.
House Flipper is deceptively well-made. At first glance it resembles one of those glitchy European simulators, but it actually has some nice modeling and lighting. The controls are mostly tight and responsive, with a smooth first person camera and a lot of setting to make view and gameplay more comfortable.
Since the houses are being flipped to make a profit, there are ways to get potential buyers more or less interested in it. The buyers’ disembodied heads sit on the corner of the screen and express how the player’s actions negatively or positively affect their spending. Each buyer has a unique, if stereotypical, personality, and you can definitely tailor your house to one of their tastes, even winning achievements for doing so. As you learn about them, their likes and dislikes will be recorded in your tablet. However, even if you don’t try for any one of them or purchase a bookshelf, the buyers will still make an offer. It’s up to the player whether success is more money or personal aesthetics.
As more money is earned, bigger and more complex houses become available to flip, starting with three or four rooms and working up to two-story houses. In each of these, the player is in charge of disposing of trash, cleaning the house and windows, installing appliances, painting walls, redoing floors, tiling, adding furniture, and customizing the floor plan in whatever way feels good. Seeing a house covered in garbage and questionable stains turn into a clean livable space is addicting.
My only real gripe with the game comes from lack of content. I’ve only been playing for five hours and I’ve already seen a repeat layout albeit with different furniture. There is also a glaring lack of variation in items available to populate your house. Don’t expect a Sims level of customisation here.
But the devs are still very much involved, improving the game or adding items on an almost weekly basis. They’ve also already added a free bunker DLC so you can flip your own apocalypse shelters. With that kind of early support, House Flipper will probably nullify my complains in future.
That’s about all I can say about House Flipper because, in the end, your enjoyment of it comes down to preference. If this sounds fun, you will definitely not regret your purchase, but if it sounds tedious and pointless then you probably won’t find anything surprising. This is a game for people who’ve looked at dilapidated houses and imagined them as something beautiful. If that’s you, I cannot recommend this enough. The sheer imagination you can bring to customization, building, and decorating will keep you having fun for a long time.