They call him Flipper
House Flipper has caused a few more problems in my household than perhaps it should have. First of all, that I’m prepared to do more cleaning and decorating in a virtual home than our own, and secondly, that I’ve spent more time doing these tasks than actual real-life activities. To say I’ve been somewhat addicted to the game is testament to how enjoyable the game is, or is it my nature?
House Flipper is a simulator where you play the role of a handyman who’s tasked with taking out the trash of customer homes, cleaning their windows, replacing furniture and painting the walls. As your skills and reputation improve, you will then move on to mounting appliances, tiling bathrooms and knocking down walls. I have a keen interest in DIY and property development, so this was already something I wanted to experience. Still, the grinding tasks of mopping floors and painting walls may seem somewhat moronic, but it was quite therapeutic.
You operate out of a little shed-like building and access your email with a job list.
Customers will email you with their requirements, and you accept the job then will appear at their place ready to undergo the work. At first, the tasks are slow – especially painting, but when you keep doing the same thing over and over, you’ll reach a milestone and have the opportunity to boost a stat such as painting more areas at the same time, using less paint and painting faster. This isn’t exclusive to painting as you can increase the speed of mounting appliances, or the quality of your sledgehammer when knocking down walls, but they only update when you do the task again and again. This will, understandably, put a lot of people off.
With ZL you can select from a range of tools such as plastering and tiling, painting, selling objects for profit, knocking out walls and moving furniture or picking up trash. Pressing the – button brings up your online store where you can purchase appliances, furniture, decorations, paint and tiles. The choices are pretty good, and anyone familiar with IKEA will recognise a few designs in there. Paint options are quite limited, and the colours are WAY off. This has nothing to do with my screen setup, and as someone about to show off about their knowledge of colour theory, I have to say that the colours are often disappointing. Colours are the least of the issues when it comes to the presentation as House Flipper is an ugly game. It would look so much better on PC with improved textures and also the controls – trying to select items in the house with a pinpoint cursor and using an analogue stick is so awkward. The exclusive Switch gyroscope feature was pretty redundant too.
How is it that I enjoyed the game so much?
Well, once you’ve earned enough money, you can access your computer and purchase a house to do up then sell on. As you’d expect, first homes are small and restricted, but when you buy a two-level home, it’s a lot of fun going in and cleaning or restoring everything, then redecorating or knocking a wall out. Much like playing The Sims, I tried to emulate my own home, but it’s pretty restrictive, and you can only alter walls that are within the existing foundations – no extensions, or underground bunkers. That would have been a game-changer, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
As you’re doing up the property, to the left of the screen, you will see comments from potential buyers.
There will be playboys looking for a property with two bedrooms but no kitchen (figures), a couple with a newborn or a landlord looking to invest. If you follow their cues, they will grow more interested in the property, and when it comes to the auction (which you can trigger at any time), they are likely to have the winning bid. It’s up to you if you take the offer, but if you refuse, you incur a small fee. One of the many perks is the chance to improve your negotiating skills so you can earn more and sell for a more substantial profit. In the first hour or so, I thought I would need to farm a bit in House Flipper for the funds, but it’s effortless to make money and build/install whatever you like without fear of running out of cash.
I’d assume it’s hard to register where each asset is placed, but you can complete a task or improve the value of a property just by doing the request without accuracy. For example, someone wants a bookcase in the room, as long as you place it, that counts. I put furniture in the middle of the room, and it made zero difference in completing the task, so it’s down to you if you want to be particular with your designs. Jumping back and forth to jobs to your ongoing renovation breaks it up a little, but the further you get in the game, the more arduous the tasks are to 100% a job. In the early game, you just have to clean a few windows and take out the trash, but later on, you have to install radiators, bathrooms, paint two or three rooms and renew furnishings. It gets monotonous, but again, it’s a bit therapeutic jumping through the hoops, and while I was hardly pumped wth adrenaline, House Flipper is a bit of a chill game.
The Switch doesn’t feel like a good fit here.
House Flipper should be more for the PC market (which it already is), what with their mouse and keyboard witchcraft, as we’ve already established the Switch is a bit weak. But one thing I’ll mention is the installation section of the game when setting up a bathroom or installing an AC unit. The first step is purchasing the item from the shop, then mounting to the correct location and pressing the A button to assemble. What follows is like a quick time event; only no need to be quick. The screen will flash with button presses you have to follow as you insert screws, connect hoses and mount items to the wall. It was a bit of a novelty at first but swiftly becomes a nuisance. Upgrading your stats means this speeds up, but it’s still a throw-away mechanic to make you feel part of the game a bit more.
The graphics are poor, the controls are fiddly, the gameplay is monotonous, yet emphasis yet again on the therapeutic side and the creativity to decorate a house how you see fit. While I’ve been playing this almost non-stop, I appreciate it’s flawed to a lot of people so have taken that into account, considering the negatives above. House Flipper would benefit from DLC and better textures, so for that reason, the PC version would take precedence over the Switch.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 12/06/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Lifestyle, Simulation
Developer: Empyrean Games
Publisher: Ultimate Games SA
Download link: eShop