First Impression: House Flipper (PC – Steam) ~ Renovations On Top

Steam store pageOfficial website

Sometimes, you just need to give a game or a concept a chance. You’ll never know if it grows on you or not. When I got a Steam key for House Flipper by being a subscriber to Humble Bundle’s Humble Choice, I was intrigued and interested on how this game is going to work. Are we going to flip the houses ourselves or are we going to run a company that does house flipping? Well, it’s the first. We are going to do the house flipping and decorating. And today, I want to take you on a journey with me to talk about my first impressions of this game in my usual Game Quicky format. Where I first mention the good things, then the bad things to wrap up with a conclusion at the end. Oh, and any comments on my work on this article and/or the game are welcome in the comment section down below.

No need to renovate

In this game, you play as a handy man who cleans and renovates houses. The skill set of your character goes from being a painter, electrician, plumber, interior decorator, carpenter… And your character does everything which for some jobs a (whole) crew does.

Honestly, I knew that I wasn’t too good at interior decorating, and it shows. There are several Christmas levels where you have to decorate the house with a lot of decorations. In a lot of cases, my end result often looks like a quickly thrown together mess. But, here is the strange thing about it. I enjoy decorating the houses.

In terms of difficulty: if you want a challenge, look elsewhere. The focus of this game isn’t in being difficult or providing some challenge. It’s more a sort of sandbox-ish type of game where you have to do certain jobs for people and if you want, improve their houses with for example new furniture or nicer decorated walls. Also, the price you earn goes up depending on the materials used and the amount of upgrades you did to the house. This doesn’t mean that the game isn’t rewarding to play. The before and after pictures you get after a job well done are so enjoyable and rewarding.

There are a lot of things you can do around the house. At the start of the game, you’ll unlock each and every skill by tutorial jobs. After these tutorial jobs, you’ll be able to use these skills in your own house and other jobs. The game can get somewhat repetitive if you don’t use the skill/perk system.

The perk system is a great system that helps you do certain tasks more efficient and faster. Image being able to paint three sections of wall at the same time instead of one. Or being able to upgrade your broom to clean faster (To be honest, I wish cleaning worked similar in the real world. Just heaving to wave a mop in the direction of the mess and voilà). Each skill/category has 9 perks in 3 sections. Each time you preform said skill/category a certain amount of times, you get a skill point with which you can unlock an upgrade. Compare it to the skill tree in Skyrim. This system actually compelled me to 100% each job since that made me get closer to new skill points making the next jobs go more smoothly and faster to do.

The controls of this game work flawlessly. This game also works with a controller, but I honestly prefer the mouse & keyboard combo for this game. I find that I have way better control over the game with the mouse and keyboard compared to the controller.

Visually, this game looks amazing. The game looks somewhat realistic while keeping your typical “game” look. Sadly, there are just a few things that look a bit unrealistic, but these don’t really destroy the illusion too much. Something I really like is how this game takes certain possible phobia’s in consideration. There are cockroaches in this game. But if you suffer from Katsaridaphobia, you can disable them right before you see/hear them for the first time. You can change them in glass shards. And to be honest, I find that the mechanic to clean up the glass shards works better and is a bit easier compared to cockroaches, but that’s such a minor detail.

The music and sound effects in this game are quite relaxing. I feel right at ease and relaxed while I’m cleaning and renovating houses. It fits the game like a glove and the sound effects as well. I wish there were more sound effects for some things like for cleaning, placing wall tiles… But that’s always a delicate balance if you put more sound effects in your game or less. Since, too many sound effects can be overwhelming and make the game “too busy”.

There are two styles of gameplay. You can either do jobs where you have a certain requirement of things that need to do be done. This is sort of the adventure mode of the game. Honestly, I have spent most of my time playing this game with the job system. Since, you can use that access money with the other mode. In this mode, you can play on the housing market and really buy, renovate and sell houses. You always have a list of potential buyers and trying to match a house to their needs with their live reactions at the side is a real interesting puzzle.

Now, if you are interested in this game and want to get even more out of it… Well, you can expand this game with additional DLC. You can access most of the main content without the DLC and I can still tell you that this game is still a lot of fun without the DLC. Every DLC adds a handful of missions, new items and new mechanics and expand the game even more. The only negative I have is that the DLC’s are a tad bit expensive in my opinion. I would find a more fair price to be €9,99 instead of €12,5. But oh well, it’s clear that a lot of effort has been put into them and if you are really enjoying the game, I think the DLC is worth it.

This game auto-saves at the interval you set in the options’ menu. And if you leave in the middle of a job, you can continue it when you boot the game back up again. There are some bugs with the cloud saves, but one of the main forum threads has a solution for that. But, the amount of options and things like that in this game is just amazing. You can set almost anything to your hand and I love it.

Something I also really enjoy in this game as well are the achievements. They add additional challenges and charm to the game. They add some replay value, and they even make some jobs unique. Since, if you only stick to the requirements to finish the job… Some achievements can be easily unlocked by later jobs.

Now, something that is amazing is that this game also supports the Steam Workshop! So, if you don’t find what you are looking for in the base game or DLC… You can visit the workshop and look at the over 16000 items on it.

Renovations needed

Overall, the UI is close to perfect. But, at this moment of writing, the text entered into the tablet has some minor delay. It’s also not easy to remove everything at once. Something like a blinking cursor in the search field when you want to type in it would go a long way. Sadly, there are other minor things like that in the visuals. For example, the long grass at your home stops at a certain line. Near the hedges, actually. Another thing in terms of visuals and UI is that sometimes, it’s a pain finding the exact spot of e.g., dirt on the mini-map. In very rare cases, the task list or the mini map is saying that there is still stuff to do while there actually isn’t.

This game is translated in a lot of languages. I love this fact, since it makes the game a lot more accessible. Maybe, I might be extremely strict on this, since I’m an editor for the Dutch/Flemish translation of WordPress… But, the Dutch translation has various typos and inconsistencies. From wrong use of verbs to not using capitals in menu’s. Thankfully, the English version of this game works extremely well and still, I find it extremely impressive that this large game with so much text is translated in so many languages.

The overall quality of the translation is fine, but I honestly think that in an update, they should let various language experts go over the translation since I think there is a lot that can be polished up and improved. Since, if you aren’t well versed in English and know what everything means or what different objects are called, you might have problems with this game.

Overall, the camera works perfectly. Since, this is a first person game, you have full control over it. Sadly, in some montage sections, the camera dips quite weirdly. These moments are thankfully extremely rare and are mainly caused when you do the assembly in a different order. Knowing what the next steps are or going out of the assembly process and going back in usually fixes these minor camera goofs.

There are some minor things that could be communicated to the player better. The best example I can give is in the painting. In a lot of cases, like in the assembly process, you hear a little sound effect when you are finished with a step. You don’t get that with painting. When your wall is done, you don’t get a small notification in the corner or something. Of course, this might be because of the perk that you don’t waste paint on already painted walls but still… It should have more communication.

Like how tasks disappear way too quickly from the small to-do list on the right side of the screen. Give the player some time to see and realize which task they just completed. The task disappears when the jingle of task completed plays.

But the biggest offender of not communicating is the demolition. It’s not easy to fully destroy a wall and know what’s going to disappear or which pieces are waiting on you to hit with your hammer. I honestly think this should be improved upon since it makes this game a tad bit annoying sometimes. A great start should be unable to build a wall in that spot and have the offending still to destroy bricks flash or turn in red or another color. A similar fix would be helpful if you are unable to find that last dirty spot on the windows. Since, the lighting there sometimes makes it extremely hard to spot sometimes.

Sadly, some mechanics are a bit too finky sometimes. If you buy a shelving unit and try to place items on it without a ladder… Oh boy, it’s no easy to put items higher than eye height. Or that if you pick up tiles, and you want to change to different tiles, you first have to remember to lay the remainder down. Thankfully, as soon as I got “used” or knew my way around these little quirks, these problems didn’t annoy me that much anymore.

The invoice – Conclusion

I never expected this game to be so much fun. It’s an enjoyable relaxing time waster that fans of casual games, simulations should give a shot. I’m quite certain that if you enjoy building aspects of games, you’ll enjoy this game as well.

Now, this game isn’t perfect. There are some things that should be polished up. It’s such a shame seeing this amazing title with some rough edges. Especially when there is so much love and soul put into this game. And it pains me that most of the negatives are almost nitpicks. I think that an update where things are polished up, mechanics are made more consistent with the other mechanics… That would be a very welcome update.

Overall, this game is a relaxing enjoyable game. It’s mindblowing how the game handles so many combinations and mechanics so well. The expansiveness of this game is so broad that I can see myself coming back from time to time after a stressful day at work to wind down. (By doing chores in a way, but hey…) While the game has its problems, some textures, and models looking a bit too out of date… There are a lot of other things like two different game modes that more than make up for it.

It’s quite clear that this game is a passion project by the developers and the love and attention to detail is shown in the game. When writing this first impression/review, I had a really hard time finding actual negatives in this game apart from several technical things that can be improved by a few patches.

I found this game at the perfect moment. I was looking for a more relaxing game I could play to wind down when I’m over stressed or had a busy/hard day at work… And then booting up this game and hearing the calming music and being able to let my creativity flow and create and improve houses… If you got interested in reading this article or looking at gameplay video’s, give it a go.

If you enjoy games like the Sims or building in Minecraft or more relaxing games, I would highly advise this game. While I totally understand that this game isn’t for everyone, it did click with me, and I’m still so surprised that this €20 game has so much value and polish. Now I’m so curious to see where the active developers are going to take this game next.

And with that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I want to thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity (3DS) ~ Dat Ending.

PMGTI

Official website

It has been coming. After a long time I finally finished the main story of this game. This game is actually the game that started off my rants here on my blog. I talked about the cuts and adds that this game did. Feel free to read it here. But I’ll address most of it in this article. This review will be a big one? Why? Well, I have a lot to talk about! Plus, this game actually did some things why I hold this game high in my list of best games ever. I thought a lot about special things to do for this review. From me being trapped in a dungeon and that each floor was a part of the game that I wanted to review but no idea really worked out the way how I wanted. So, that’s why I settled down upon a normal style review. I remember till this day pre-ordering this game. I was so excited that there was going to be a 3DS entry. It was a long time since this series saw an entry. The Japanese people got lucky with a WiiWare title that never saw international release. But ChunSoft gave us this game now. Yes, this game is not only made by GameFreak & Nintendo. ChunSoft actually has a great influence in this series. Anyways, let’s look at this game. Is it really worth the praise I give it or is it just that some elements really make me want to play this game? Let’s review! (Oh, and feel free to post a comment about my review and/or your views on this game.)

Paradise.

pmd_gti_ss6Let’s first tackle the biggest thing of this game. The story. In this game you wake up in a forest without knowing that you suddenly turned into a Pokemon. But this time they take things differently. Instead of the obvious thing to join a big rescue team or to become one, the main focus is actually somewhere different. The main focus is on you making a paradise for the Pokémon in Post Town.

And this is already a great improvement in my eyes. The story feels extremely fresh. And I actually really enjoyed the story. The characters were great, the writing is well done and I barely made complaints on the story while playing. There were some close calls of a Deus Ex Machina (for those who don’t know the word, it’s a sudden solution that comes out of nowhere and solves everything.) but lucky for this game, they were avoided.

The only thing is dislike a bit is that they removed the personality test at the start. I actually enjoyed it and never really cheated my way towards the Pokémon I wanted to be. You actually can directly select your Pokémon that you want to be now. This makes the game feel less personal but this short coming has been made up big time by something else.

But, I am not done yet with talking about the story. Where this game wins some big marks is the fact that for the 3rd entry in the game, the ending actually made me tear up once more. The ending, while it’s highly similar then the previous entries, is written in such an amazing way that it manages to to it’s job. I won’t spoil it but for emotional people, this will be a tough one. But that’s not all. The biggest marks are won with the addition of a story after the credits. I was so surprised when I saw that “and now you play as your partner to see how the story concludes.”. This gives the game a bigger reason to keep playing after finishing it.

Downfall

imagesBefore I continue with praising the game, I want to talk about what made this game not that much fun for me. Which elements made me want to avoid this game?

First off, there is DLC! Why? Just, why? Downloading additional dungeons is fun, but asking a small price for them is just silly. You basically download a dungeon with a name and some new textures. As if the extensive list of already available dungeons wasn’t good enough already.

Also, I know it’s meant for the safety of your health but the message: “You had a great adventure today. You should take a rest before you continue to play.” is just silly. I’m bummed out that there isn’t an option to disable this message.

Also, this game doesn’t like you checking the message log. The way to look at the message log is so hidden, it really makes me irritated when I want to check something I missed.

Something I really like is the fact that when you take a weak level Pokémon with you, it will grow to the level of the other Pokémon when you enter a high level dungeon. Take that your Pokémon are all level 30 and you take a level 10 with you for the ride. It goes to level 30 right away. But here comes something extremely annoying. You must go through all the moves the Pokémon can learn with that high level jump. One by one. Yes, one by one. That’s no fun at all. Why couldn’t you just program in a list for it?

Inventory management has also a small issue with it. When you want to take something out of your box, you can only take one item. Unless you first press “R” to input the amount you wish to have. This is an additional step that shouldn’t be there. When you select an item that you have multiple times, you should be able to directly say how much you want of it.

This game makes also one major mistake. One of the biggest flaws in this game is the fact the you only can do one mission each time you set out. And that is such a pain. This really pulls out a lot of the fun of doing multiple missions and trying to survive a dungeon because you need to do another floor.

A nitpicky thing is, and this might just be me, is that the running isn’t endless anymore. After a short while you stop running. And this is really annoying since you need to let go and press the B button again. Also, the running is a tad bit to fast. Running around corners is such an annoying thing in this game.

And this might be just me as well, but I felt like the final three bosses where way to weak and easy. Or I might just have grinded my Pokémon to a pretty high level and/or had a great inventory to beat them.

Before I forget, I want to add this to the bad list. A TM can be used multiple times. I liked the way of the previous entry more where you had to collect certain items to repair it before you could re-use it.

Great.

pokemon-mystery-dungeon-1At first I was really doubting to put this in the bad thing section but then I realized something. You can play as one of your team mates to take a break from the story. Yet, thanks to a box system, you can transfer over items from the companion mode to the main story mode. This gets rid of the annoying being stuck in a hard dungeon with no good items. Yet, it makes the game a bit easier. But it doesn’t get too easy either. You really need to finish requests to get those items.

In addition to that, good items are rather expensive and not always available in the shops. This makes creating a great inventory to finish bosses and/or beat big dungeons that more rewarding.

I touched upon the fact that you can do only one mission at a time. Such a big deal isn’t it really since the rewards you get are sometimes enough for expanding your paradise. The fact that you can upgrade, recolor and put more things and you have space makes the replay value high. Also, in the paradise there is a lot to do. Prize tickets and even two mini-games I know of. And they are extremely fun to do.

The hunger system is gone in this entry. But something else came in it’s place. The so called “V-Wave”. This makes a certain type more stronger and therefor more dangerous. You can change the “V-Wave” from a certain point in the story but I never did. I enjoyed the challenge.

The gameplay is still the same as before. You explore randomized dungeons and you try to get to the top. Using your attacks at corners is still extremely buggy. Speaking about attacks, they made an amazing change that is extremely helpful in this entry. When you press the “L” button you directly get an overview of all your Pokémon’s attacks! And you have to simply press the according button to execute the attack. This saves time since you don’t have to go into the menu to change your attack and you also see how much PP is left.

Also, attacks get stronger over time. The more you use them, the stronger they will get. But pay attention, the attacks of the enemy’ll be stronger then as well. So, if you upgrade tackle to level 2, the power of tackle of the enemies will be level 2 as well.

The dungeons are improved as well. Some dungeons have an “overworld” part where you have to cross a bridge or solve a small puzzle before being able to continue to the next floor. Thanks to this, dungeons are way less boring then in all the previous entries of the series. Inside dungeons there are also shortcuts. But I can’t tell more about them since I hadn’t been able to have the right key for unlocking the door.

Another great improvement is the fact that you can save everywhere you want! The menu system is better but not perfect. The fact that it’s not anymore a simple text box menu but something in the lines of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl where the buttons are on the button screen after a press on the menu button is such a great feature.

Visually this game is a masterpiece. It’s the best I have seen in the whole series. I actually regret not putting the 3D slider to max at certain points. This game really benefits from the 3D. It looks pretty. The rare cut scenes look amazing and are a marvel to look at. It’ll really stick with you how some area’s looked in 3D. And with great visuals comes one of the best animation I have seen in a while. Nothing bad to say about that.

The sound design is well done. It really pulls you inside the game. There are no Pokémon cries in the game but that’s actually a great thing, since this makes me enjoy the amazing soundtrack of the game at it’s full glory. Some tracks in the previous entries really got on my nerves after hearing them multiple times. But not with this game. This game really nailed it.

And I think I’ll leave it here for this review. Skipping the multiplayer and the possibility to find new dungeons around your home, it’s time to make a conclusion for this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Attacks at corners don’t work.

– The running is a bit broken.

– One mission at a time.

– The end bosses are a bit too weak.

– DLC.

– “You should rest.”

– Leveling up too fast makes for an irritating move learning “5-minute”

– TM can be used multiple times.

– Inventory management needs some minor tweaks.

– Removal of the personalty test at the start.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Visually amazing.

+ Great animation.

+ Randomized dungeons = high replay value.

+ Overworld parts in the dungeons.

+ Great sound design.

+ Benefits from the 3D.

+ Multiplayer.

+ Companion mode.

+ Sharing inventory makes the game way better.

+ Great controls.

+ Story after the credits.

+ It’s not only dungeons you can do in this game, the paradise opens up so many possible things to take a break from the dungeons.

+ Improved menu’s and combat.

Final words:

This game made some major improvements when you compare them to the previous entries of the series. Some things had to be payed for that, but actually in the long run, the game strong points really make up for it.

The game isn’t less fun, it’s as much fun as the previous entries but for a totally different reason. It still feels rewarding and fun but now because you make an amazing paradise that’s unique to you. Since you can choose a lot.

It really surprises me that this game really expanded on the previous entries so much. You have a lot more to do, to keep track off. And there isn’t only more depth to the game! They addressed issues to make the game more fun to play.

This game is one of the best spin-offs of Pokémon period. And I’m so glad that I finished this game and looked passed the flaws since then you see where this game actually truly shines. And then this game, you don’t want it to be over soon. But the length and replay value will keep you busy for a long while.

So, too long didn’t read version. Is it worth all it’s praise. Yes, if you don’t compare it too much too the previous entries of the series but take it as a new reboot-ish game of the series.

Score: 85/100