The life of a sole trading property magnate is an arduous one. Striving to go from rags to riches; the path is a difficult one. Making ends meet whilst creating someone else’s real estate dream is a challenge and a risk. Having all the tools and skills is a key challenge but the imagination to create and deliver a perfect home experience is needed to maximise your profits in Frozen District’s renovation simulator — House Flipper.
House Flipper’s overall experience is pure capitalism. Buy old or dilapidated real estate, renovate them based upon demand from your likely target market and then flip them for a substantial profit. It sounds ultra ruthless but in practice not only is some skill required to renovate said properties but some patience is needed as you realise House Flipper is a house decorating simulator at heart.
Whether you want to jump straight into your first potential purchase or not, it’s not that simple. From your old office plot you quickly realise you don’t actually have the funds to realise your dream but you do have a particular set of skills that you have cultivated over your career that make you a nightmare for the most run-down of properties. That means before you can claim the mantle of “House Flipper”, you need to accept the role of “Neighborhood Handyman”.
Requests for a variety of local tasks can be found on your trusty office laptop, and each customer offers a brief overview of the job at hand and before you get yourself into what appears to be a larger job rather than a shorter activity depending on your available playtime and the reward you are looking for to allow. Selecting a job transports you magically to the customers plot and you can get started.
The first few customer jobs offered handhold you through the first use of the tools and skills you have to be able to complete each task. House Flipper also kindly displays the changes needed, alterations and details within each area/room of the house as well as a friendly progress completion bar helping you know when you are finished. You do have the option of completing a job and leaving the premises before you have carried out all the tasks once you hit a predefined threshold (70% to start with) although as with any real-world example you should expect reduced compensation and unhappy customers if you actually do that.
Players control the main character in a first-person view in a fully realised 3d simulation with tool selection mapped as default to the left triggers on all console platforms. Depressing the trigger opens the tool/skill wheel which in turn alters the contextual controls offered on the action button. A range of joinery and masonry skills are used on most jobs with the addition of painting and plastering skills to help you create your masterpiece. Most actions are carried out with the action button with a blue highlight placed around an affected item or surface area.
The player character also has access to a tablet which helps to quicken the purchasing cycle for house-related items. There is a massive selection on offer with its own price and variants depending on your taste and budget. If you are not sure where something is then a handy search function finds everything by keywords. Once selected players have an option to purchase directly finding it magically in the hand of the character for use
Having the tools is great but utilizing them efficiently takes skill. Weirdly there’s very little finesse needed from the player, it’s very much a point and click affair. This poses a double-edged sword for House Flipper. All players essentially have the same level of finish or quality available to them and that isn’t increased by thumb dexterity etc. Positively though you don’t have the monotony of that finesse, you don’t have to be careful cutting in on painting or smoothing to be done on plastering.
After utilising a skill for a while players gain experience to unlock skill points to improve their avatar’s capabilities. Splash some paint on some walls and be rewarded with a point you can invest in how fast you can paint. Destroy some architecture and reward yourself by increasing the power of your hammer. It’s a simple mechanic at best but works by reducing the time it takes to complete a set of menial tasks required to get to your end goal, profit.
Once you get around to purchasing the game changes somewhat to more of a sandbox than a linear task list. Buying a house in House Flipper adds a customer feedback element to the interface showing how potential customers react to the changes you make to the property. Replace or add new utilities and fixtures and some customers will react positively, this usually equates to a higher bid from them at the auction but not always. Remove something of value to that buyer and expect them to drop down their interest. It’s an easily accessible guide to help players maximise interest in their investment.
At any time you can send the house to auction and, at this stage, you get more feedback on what each bidder wants, whether it’s more rooms, larger rooms, an office or a set number of bedrooms for example. Depending on how much cash you have pumped into the property you can choose to either accept an offer or go back and continue renovating to meet the highest bidders requests and try to increase the buy price.
The downsides of House Flipper are likely to be picked up and resolved by downloadable content and essentially equate to limitations in the mechanics or the tablet’s sales catalogue. Extra items to suit personal tastes or sponsored content packages (Ikea / Pottery Barn etc) would always be welcome, as would the ability to decorate or renovate the exterior of each property to allow garden renovation or altering the external perimeter walls given some houses have such large unoccupied space outside of the house. Perhaps a blueprint generation mechanic allowing a “green field” build on an empty plot would also be welcome in future updates.
A strangely addictive and relaxing game, the house renovation simulation is not a genre for everyone but once you get into House Flipper you will find the hours drift away easily.