I just adore when a game comes around that totally takes me by surprise and the first one to do so of 2020 is House Flipper. I have to be honest and admit that originally I was a little snobbish about this title, I am not usually a fan of all the “simulator” titles on PC and rarely pay them any attention when they are ported to console however, House Flipper not only won me over, it positively ‘Flipped’ me in the process!
Initially released on PC back in 2018, House Flipper is perhaps the ultimate house DIY and decorating simulator you could possibly want outside micromanaging you own universe in The Sims. Now with the game ported across to Xbox One and PS4, if you ever wanted to have your own DIY SOS experience well now you can with House Flipper. I went into the game with the expectations of being bored and not being able to get into but I was completely won over in just the first 10 minutes of the game. I love it when I am proved wrong about a game.
There are really two elements or modes to House Flipper with the first being able to take “jobs” from people who will request anything from cleaning up a messy house to installing new bathrooms, kitchens to even adding new rooms or knocking through walls. You select a job via the email from your ‘Business Laptop’ from a variety of different people, some with intriguing backstories and reasons why they require your expertise and believe me, they can get rather strange. Going by what work they want completed you are free to accept any job or ignore them as there is strangely no option to decline jobs and you will instantly go to that house to begin work.
As you start off you will be limited in what tools you have access too and therefore restricted to which jobs you can take on until you learn more techniques with the first tool you are given being a Mop, which I am still convinced looks more like an old broom than a mop. Of course, the first property you actually work with is your own shack/office which is a completely mess and like many of the houses you will be asked to work on for jobs, looks as though squatters have called it home for months. Cleaning a house requires removing of any rubbish, boxes and damaged items as well using the ‘mop’ to clean all surfaces and I mean all surfaces, QVC would make a fortune having the mop from this game as it can do floors, items and ceilings and practically able to clean all surfaces from dirt. This is usually an underlining objective to any job so make sure you find every spot of dirt as even painting over a spot will not cover up the dirt.
More jobs will unlock more tools such as painting and plastering and more advanced jobs will give you the ability to wield a sledgehammer in order to knock down walls and also the ability to build new walls. Just every aspect to DIY and decorating will become available with some being contextual to the job you have to do such as tiling for bathrooms, wallpapering and also floor panels. You can even do full installations of house items such as radiators and full plumbing for the bathroom to install sinks, toilets, baths and showers. Thankfully this process is pretty much automated however the game will take you through the steps of fitting such elements so you will have to ‘Assemble’ them which is a guided process and just a matter of following the steps which are highlighted for you to simply move the cursor over and hold RT or A to complete that part. Even though this part is heavily guided, it will actually show or even teach you what actual steps are required to install something like a shower or a toilet which is a rather lovely touch.
Taking jobs is a really good way to practice for what is for me the main mode, that of buying properties to renovate and sell them on for profit, actual house flipping. This is really where my love of this game came from because it just gives you all the creative freedom to pretty much do whatever you want to as long as you have the budget to do so. From the same laptop you can use to take on jobs, you also have access to the property market where you can purchase anything from a one-bedroom home to more advanced and expensive properties. The best way to earn enough money is start small and make as much profit as you can in order to go bigger for more profit.
The creative freedom really is incredible here as and I actually found this mode the quickest way to unlock almost all the tools needed for completing the jobs mode. I have had a few homes in my life but never really having the budget to completely decorate and model a home the way I really wanted to. In a lovely way, House Flipper gave me the opportunity to really express myself in how I would like to have a home if money was no object and I could have everything the way I wanted. Starting with the item store which is how you find all the materials such as paint, tiles and furniture and appliances you would want to go into your home.
Moving from room to room you really can start designing the home in your head and the ease at which you can find things to use from the store keeps it nice and pain free. The store is pretty much modelled like an online site and even has a search bar that you can put key words in to find it in the store if its not readily viewable when you move through the categories. You can go as wild as you like as you prepare the property for sale and I love the fact that on the left side of the screen will be other House Flippers who really react to anything you choose to do from cleaning to painting because these are the very people who will be bidding on your property when it comes to selling it with the highest offer being the one you can choose to either accept or decline in order to make further changes to try again.
Watching the auction to see how much profit you will make is genuinely thrilling, and the break down will show how much you bought the property for, how much you spent on renovations and how much you spent on furniture to see where if at all, your investment paid off. Some choices I made in the first few properties I flipped saw me actually making the money back on the furniture I put in the rooms where a couple of later ones I actually made a loss which taught me that sometimes it is just enough to clean, repair and paint a property instead of doing a full on ‘Changing Rooms’ job which in the end will not turn a larger project. Each time I completed a sale I would review the breakdown as well as the comments made from the house flippers bidders who will say what they liked or would have preferred from your work such as saying they would have bid more if you had put in a second bedroom or made a certain change to their liking.
It all helps to improve your next project and there will always be the next one because if like me, you will really enjoy trying to improve and try out different ways of preparing a property for sale even to the point where I stopped doing the jobs and just focused on working on properties to flip which is perhaps one of the most relaxing game experience I have enjoyed in quite some time.
Naturally of course coming from PC and ported for the console it does have some niggles such as movement using the controller feels very janky which even with tweaks to sensitivity always felt rather off. The snap to grid element of placing items and furniture is cumbersome and clumsy when trying to inch perfect line up items. But did annoy me the most however was that the engine for the game felt less then optimised for running on the Xbox One X, when in a room and leaving the light on, it would turn off when you move into the next room and it just felt strange that lights can only be shown in one room at a time and even on the outside of a property, sometimes dirt will vanish and return when you move the camera in a certain direction. These are only niggles to what is a highly enjoyable game if this style of content appeals to you, but when played on the Xbox One X, these things are very noticeable.
Overall, I am loving my time with House Flipper, even setting challenges with friends with the game to choose a property and have a set time limit to flip the house to see who can make the most profit. I find it incredibly relaxing to play and the fact you can drop in and out means you can really take your time on a build whilst using the jobs to unlock and practice the more advanced elements such as creating new rooms via the addition of walls. Honestly, this has easily been the surprise title of the year so far for me and one I did not see coming nor that I would end up enjoying it as much as I have!