Well before I bought it, I’d long been intrigued by a particular game on the Steam store.
House Flipper seemed like such a simple concept: you paint walls, tile floors, and tidy up trash to then sell the renovated house for money. It’s a long way from many of the open-world RPGs I sink my time into, but I’ve been wanting to play more indie PC games in 2022.
When the Steam sale came on, I thought, why not give House Flipper a go? It was the perfect game to pass the time to as I was recovering from a cold. I didn’t have to think too much, and I could put on an audiobook while I smashed walls.
House Flipper isn’t a complicated game. But its simplicity is part of the charm.
What is House Flipper?
Much like popular TV renovation shows, House Flipper is all about turning decrepit houses into stunning homes, then selling them for cash. House Flipper draws on some of my most enjoyed parts of the Sims – that is, making great houses. In fact, I was always more interested in building the houses than the lives of the people in them.
You start by taking on simple jobs, like tidying up a house after renters have trashed the property. This involves picking up rubbish, clearing out bottles, pizza cartons, and crates, and cleaning any dirty surfaces. Depending on the type of damage, you often need to repaint walls and replace flooring, although much of the furniture can be reused (albeit a bit worse for wear).
As you progress through the game and complete more jobs, you open up more skills, such as plastering and tiling, vacuuming up roaches, or uh, wielding a flamethrower, which strangely doesn’t melt snow, but it does melt furniture… The good thing is, that the game asks you about your phobias – don’t like cockroaches? You can turn them into shards of glass instead. Don’t like spooky houses? You can choose not to have the creepy stuff.
It’s clearly meant to be a chilled out experience, and the developers have thought about the things that might knock people out of the Zen state inspired by House Flipper.
As you complete more tasks, you can level up your skills in the tablet, which means you can complete jobs faster. A lot of the speed upgrades are helpful, especially when painting walls.
The tablet also houses a selection of furniture and installable items. It’s not enough to renovate the house – a lot of the fun comes from decorating it too. If you’ve always wanted to put a grand piano next to your vampire fireplace surrounded by kids toys, House Flipper is the place to do that.
The installations are another part worth mentioning. You don’t just place installable items, such as toilets, showers, and radiators, in the room. You need to install them by clicking on the correct parts. It might sound a bit boring, but House Flipper is a game designed to make you slow down, not speed up.
What’s so good about House Flipper?
- It’s really chill. You can put an audiobook on, or some good tunes, and break down walls after a long day at work. I was asked why I was playing the game when I could paint my own house instead (and it does need it), but it’s relaxing when you don’t have to actually wield a sledgehammer in real life or worry about dust masks. I can’t overstate that this is the best aspect of House Flipper. I found myself relaxing while playing it, which is a big thing if you play games to relax after work.
- It’s also incredibly satisfying to see the house come together after tidying up the trash and repairing the walls. Low-stakes satisfaction is just what we need when the pandemic is making everything difficult.
- The sense of humour of the developers is present in the houses you buy and sell. They often riff-off popular culture, including Dragonball Z, Dracula, Home Alone, and even Breaking Bad. The stories within the houses themselves, such as the haunted house, or in the emails you receive from desperate home owners in need of assistance, made the game more interesting.
- You can do almost whatever you want inside the houses. Want to make an extra bathroom? Want to build a sauna? Want to make one big room into two? You can do all that and more, making houses whatever you like.
What could be improved about the game?
- The house buyer archetypes are a little cliched – there’s a senior couple, a studious Asian man, a party boy, a family, a corporate executive who wants a separate office, an artsy single woman, and more. It would be more challenging to have less cliched buyers. Maybe a female gamer who wants a hackerspace?
- Some of the assembly processes have issues, particularly assembling the washing machines. They’re not game stopping bugs, but you have to hang out clicking the back panel for a while to get it to move.
- I question some of the residents’ interior decorating taste… some of the house decoration requests you get are pretty icky colour combos. There’s no accounting for taste.
- While I had upgraded my skills in wall construction, I was never able to build more than one wall at once. I felt like I’d missed something, or there was an issue with how I was trying to build them.
House Flipper DLCs
There are a number of DLCs available or in the pipeline. I especially enjoyed their Cyberpunk DLC, although wished there were more houses. The Apocalypse Flipper DLC was amusing but endlessly frustrating as I piled virtual macaroni onto shelves for a guy in a gas mask. Maybe it’s a ‘Merican thing.
Would I play the DLCs? For sure, if it piqued my interest. I’m pretty likely to buy the Luxury DLC considering how many hours I’ve stuffed into the original House Flipper.
If you like renovation simulators, or are in need of a chilled game to relax with, then I would recommend House Flipper. It inspired me to get off my butt and actually paint the walls of my house (which I did). It feels like this game has a lot of opportunity to expand and get better, much the way the Sims did when I first played it all those years ago.