Have you walked around your town and thought, what happened here? The once thriving area is now desolate, dilapidated, and in need of some tender loving care. The buildings are falling down, and businesses are failing. The beautiful architecture can’t save them, and someone or something has to step in to save the day. Buildings Have Feelings Too! tells the tale of one shop that has had enough. It must salvage what remains of each district and improve the attractiveness of every area it visits.
Developed by Blackstaff Games and published by Merge Games, this is a puzzle, city building, simulation title with a twist. You will visit many districts with one aim; you must improve the environment, build new shops, and help each structure be as “happy” as possible. The core concept appears simple from the offset, but it soon evolves to be a complicated and well thought out affair.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is surprisingly challenging.
As you launch into Buildings Have Feelings Too! you’ll feel a little overwhelmed. Chucked in at the deep end, you must work through a well-organised tutorial to teach you the fundamentals. The more you play, the more it appears unplayable and complex. But fear not, these negative feelings soon dissipate as the game mechanics slowly fall into place.
You must visit several regions, completing many tasks that are issued to you by the rundown buildings. Improve houses, choose your industrial site, and feed the masses. Each can be upgraded by fulfilling certain criteria, and it is your responsibility to make the most appealing district possible.
Each property has positive and negative attributes that will impact on its neighbours. Polluting industrial zones have no place being next to residential areas. If you cannot plan correctly, you will not be able to improve the region, and you will not progress the story.
It quickly becomes a cluttered nightmare.
You may think, “this sounds easy, pick your shops, plan where to put them and move on!” That’s exactly what I thought once I got to grips with it. How wrong was I! It quickly becomes a tactical nightmare. You will juggle each of your properties around, desperately trying to increase their appeal to upgrade them to three stars. You run out of room, have the wrong businesses, or don’t have enough bricks to pay for repairs. It’s tough, takes a considerably patient approach, but importantly it’s addictive and fun.
The difficulty doesn’t stop there! A red X of doom hovers above structures that desperately need repairs. If you leave this too long, the building is shut down and you must pay to reinstate it. Alongside this, you will be blessed or cursed with positive and negative effects at random. Depending on your luck, these will aid you or hinder your approach on each stage. This element of chance will not be to every strategy fans liking. But I enjoyed the randomness on it, it kept you on your toes, and made you adjust your plans regularly.
A progression tree.
Each type of building has its own progression tree that starts at the basic structure and spurs off as you fulfil its prerequisites. This kept the gameplay flowing at a steady pace and ensured that gamers didn’t get ahead of themselves. I liked how Blackstaff Games drip fed new elements and mechanics as you entered each region. This reduced confusion and helped to keep you focussed on each task as they cropped up. Buildings Have Feelings Too! could have run away with it, but fortunately this approach kept the action reined in, mostly.
What I enjoyed about the free flowing regions and the progression tree, was the ability to return to previous “completed” areas to add new building types. This allowed you to reinvent a district to increase your appeal score and make sure that you maximised the bricks in your inventory. It wasn’t essential to do this, but gamers who are a bit OCD, or those who strive for perfection will love this quirk in the gameplay.
Complex UI, but simple to navigate.
My aforementioned opening concern wasn’t helped by the complex UI and many sub menus you encounter. Luckily, the setup for each is straightforward, and they appear worse than they are. You soon become familiar with each category, and the icons that go with them. It really is a game about allowing yourself to learn its finer points, and not one that you can jump in and be a master within the first five minutes. If you disregard the menu system, what you’ll find is a delightful to look at 2D picture. The buildings are beautifully designed, with hilariously placed arms and legs. The well designed backdrops vary for each district, and the crisp art style makes this lovely to look at.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! has a somewhat bizarre audio. When you read the dialogue between the characters, you realise they are in trouble. Their world is falling apart, and they need a hero to help them change their luck. Yet, when you listen to the upbeat and cheery music, it’ll make you think that they have nothing to fear. Mix this in with the comical noises that the structures shout, and it all appears to be lighthearted and without concern. I liked how it was presented, and I think it works better than a down trodden sombre affair. It just seemed that the two failed to connect and were at odds with each other.
Clumsy, yet easy-to-use controls.
As the gameplay focuses solely on moving across the horizontal axis, it didn’t surprise me that this was easy to control. Yet, what I found was the analogue stick was clumsy to use. However, when I used the D-pad it allowed for a more accurate and smoother approach. This would certainly be better with a Mouse and Keyboard, though the controller was perfectly serviceable. Flicking through the menus was surprisingly easy, as was selecting upgrades and altering uses. For all its complexities regarding its gameplay, this didn’t leech into its control system, and this allowed you the time to get to grips with its finer points.
With so much back-and-forth action between the regions and a difficult achievement list, this will keep you playing for hours. This is before you consider the challenge that you’ll face from each new district you manage. The constant attack of negative effects, and the impact of building maintenance ensure that you are in for a tough ride. A large progression tree, and plenty of different businesses to select from make this a game that’ll demand you keep playing for a long time.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is a city management game with a twist!
Don’t come into this expecting a Sim City or Cities: Skylines style game. Buildings Have Feelings Too! is a city management game with a twist! Each of the venues has; aspirations, hopes, and fears. You will need to adjust each neighbourhood to get the most out of it, and this will lead to you changing your approach repeatedly. No region is the same, and you will take a trip from the Victorian Era to the modern day. If you are up for a fun, but challenging management game, I recommend you try this. You can own a copy by clicking here! Can you bring back the life and sparkle to each dilapidated area? Complete the tasks, shuffle the businesses, and make each district as appealing as possible.