House Flipper is an interesting title indeed. Developed by Empyrean and coming out of closed beta on May 17th this year, the game seems to have crept up from nowhere and gathered rave reviews and a big audience of players. House Flipper has you take on the role of one-man renovation crew as you take on all manner of tasks in other people's homes, from cleaning the garage to knocking down walls, House Flipper seems to provide an interesting and unique experience. Does it live up to the hype? Lets find out.
You can purchase House Flipper for $19.99/£15.49 right now on Steam
Graphics, Audio & Performance
Let's take a look at the graphics. Graphics aren't everything of course, but a nice looking game is undoubtedly a massive factor in the enjoyment of the game. Fortunately, House Flipper's graphics are quite nice indeed. The highest settings seem luxurious, adding lots of bloom and post-processing effects. Not to my personal taste, but if you're a fan of uber-polished graphics, then you'll love the higher graphics settings. Lower settings aren't bad either. They simplify a lot of the visuals in the game but don't necessarily take away from the experience, and definitely help somewhat with performance. Overall, I'm impressed with the graphical fidelity on all settings. The option is there for a really beautiful, effect-heavy experience, whilst also having options available for those with less powerful systems.
Sound in the game is also fairly decent. It's nothing special as such, but it's more than satisfactory. There is often a calming, ambient music in the background to match the various sound effects you'll encounter from painting, tiling, and more. Honestly, though, this game doesn't really need anything more than that. The sound is simple and fits the mood of the game very well.
Performance of any game is very important, poor optimization can ruin an otherwise good game. House Flipper seems to perform quite well, at least on my system, though I have noticed some occasional frame dips and chugging during some more processing-intensive moments, namely demolition. I'd suspect this is due to the somewhat dynamic nature of demolition, but honestly, it's not that bad. I have rarely ever dropped below 60fps, and the game remains more than playable during this occasional moment of a dip in performance, it won't really hamper your playing experience at all.
Honestly, gameplay is pretty fun. On first impressions, I didn't think I'd gain much enjoyment from House Flipper, but this is one of those strangely relaxing games that you'll find yourself playing for hours at a time. With that said, there are one or two minor annoyances, namely with cleaning dirt, cleaning windows, and painting. These three mechanics can be quite fiddly, and it ends up being a tad frustrating.
Cleaning Dirt is often very simple, but some bits of dirt are simply invisible to the naked eye, and unless you take the perk that shows dirt on the mini-map, you'd never know you're missing bits and pieces. Instead, you have to look thoroughly for the button prompt, at which point you can then clean this invisible spec of dirt. Window Cleaning also can be mildly irritating, as the mechanic behind this feels a tad janky, for lack of a better word. At first, I thought this process was causing my computer to drop frames hard, but it turns out the movement and animation of the window cleaning tool is just very jittery, giving it the illusion of losing frames. This combined with the sometimes awkward handling of the tool can prove slightly frustrating. Finally, painting. When painting a room, you have to get every nook and cranny, including painting inside doorframes and window frames. Whilst this makes sense, of course, it is not communicated very well at any point in the game, and its something you just have to learn yourself. This was only a mild annoyance for me after I had realized that you were meant to paint these parts, I never forgot those areas again.
The game uses a perk system for various different skills, meaning the more work you do of a specific type, the easier you can make it for yourself in the future. For example, you can unlock perks to paint multiple walls at a time, use less paint, or apply the paint faster. Whilst the initial work you have to do to attain these perks can be fairly monotonous, it makes perks feel very valuable to have, and you'll be very thankful for them in the future.
When it comes to the core elements of the game though, they're oddly very satisfying. Something about scrubbing dirt off the floor or even just tiling a bathroom gives a strange sense of self-satisfaction, especially when the job is done and the place looks much better. I even at one point found myself re-arranging someone's front room having just demolished a connector wall. They didn't want me to re-arrange it, in fact, they might not be very happy, but hey, I couldn't help myself.
This game really does manage to suck you in. The job of in-home renovation is somehow transformed into a strangely relaxing and satisfying game that will easily pull you in, and you won't even realize until you see you've got 500 hours played on Steam and you've missed dinner for the third time this week.
Story & Progression
Honestly, House Flipper doesn't really have an over-arching story, but rather a self-sustained progression system. You start off the game in a run-down shack that serves as both your office and home, and you can eventually progress to owning your own home, renovating your own property and living a life of luxury. This kind of self-driven progression can be taken at the player's leisure and feels very satisfying to partake in, and serves as something of an endgame goal for the game, without the rigid structure of a linear storyline. A fixed story progression can suit a lot of games, but this sort of freeform self-driven progression suits this game wonderfully.
There are also some smaller stories within the game. Each job you go to isn't just an empty house to fix. Jobs are received through your office's laptop and come with a detailed email. Do you need to read them? Not at all, but reading them tells you just a little bit about who you're working for and what they're hoping to get from you. You can really get a little glimpse into their life from the way their email is written, the sort of work they want doing and more. These little mini-stories are actually quite enjoyable to experience and are similar to what I imagine life in the renovation business would be like. The home is, of course, a very personal space, and you'd get little glimpses into the lives of your customers, and the same is true for House Flipper. There is a lot of detail just under the game's surface that can enhance your experience vastly, and its a joy to behold.
House Flipper, frankly, is a marvel. There is no way a game about home renovation should be this interesting and fun, but it manages it in graceful style. Minus some mild annoyances with certain mechanics and the occasional dip in performance, this game is way more fun than it has any right to be. The sheer experience of playing the game is so simple and streamlined, yet somehow manages to be really entertaining. Empyrean have done a wonderful job on House Flipper, and I've found another game to pour hours into. House Flipper gets a 9 from me.
|+ Good variety of graphical options||– Some minor annoyances with mechanics|
|+ Satisfying and smooth gameplay||– Some occasional, slight dips in performance|
|+ Self-driven progression|
|+ Subtle storytelling for customers|