First off, let’s get one thing straight: I hate cleaning. Most people don’t love it, granted, but for me, it’s like, “oh, there’s some washing up to do? Better rearrange all my furniture first.” Procrastination at its finest, if I may say so myself. So you’d think the fast and gratifying cleaning of House Flipper 2 combined with furniture arranging, painting, tiling, and a host of other satisfying home renovation tasks would be my ideal way to, well, avoid my laundry pile. Sadly, despite the initial novelty of trick-shotting trash bags into wheelie bins, I’m reaching for the fabric softener.
Another confession before we continue: I haven’t played the original House Flipper. It has, however, been on my radar since its 2018 release, and I am known to enjoy a relaxing simulation game and the creativity of a building game: Minecraft, Animal Crossing, Dreamlight Valley, and Planet Zoo are some of my favorites. This, combined with my interest in home furnishing and interior design, filled me with the expectation that I would enjoy House Flipper 2. I can certainly see the appeal of the relaxing clicker gameplay and watching a wreck of a property start to sparkle before your eyes, and I did come to enjoy the House Flipper 2 story mode – it just took a little too long to get to the good stuff.
From what I’ve seen of the original, House Flipper 2’s story mode is iterative rather than reinventive. You start off in a new town and, to get acquainted and earn some quick cash, you’re tasked with helping the locals clean up their frankly disgusting properties – and that’s coming from this vacuum-avoider. While there are a total of nine home renovation tools, only a few are available to you at the start: namely trash collection and cleaning. You need to get your hands dirty before you can learn tiling and demolishing. This in itself is totally fine; there has to be some level of progression and this is the logical way to do it. The problem with story mode for me comes in its restrictive quest design.
Each story mode job comes with a set of quests – this is someone’s home after all, and you can’t just do what you want. Well, you kind of can, actually, but we’ll get to that. You open your quest list to see exactly which items to sell, exactly how many stains and windows are left to clean, and exactly which items to buy. Completing each job to a three-star standard is easy; you just need to check off every quest. You don’t even need to place the items properly. As long as that table, those chairs, and that wall decor are in the room, your job is as good as done. Of course, your own level of perfectionism might not let you leave the items strewn around, and mine certainly didn’t for the first few jobs. However, from my experience, the more of these early commissions I got through, the less I cared, and I just wanted to move on to the next job and unlock a new skill.
Between jobs, you find yourself in your own home, which itself needs doing up. This need to just get through it, then, is exacerbated by the fact that you’re limited to the same unlocked tools in your own home, and that house flipping itself – where the game really starts to come alive – is locked behind around ten jobs. Even then, you can’t complete even the cheapest house flips without unlocking demolishing and building first, so you’re forced to just get it all out of the way before you bother flipping houses of your own.
This is all the same as the first House Flipper, aside from some extra tools and the way the game looks. From what I’ve seen of the first game, the visuals and general story of House Flipper 2 are greatly improved. The UI, map, and menus all look much better than its predecessor. You still get emails, but you also get phone calls from some of the locals. This adds a human touch to the game in a sense but brings its own issues. It very much sounds like the voices are AI-generated, and they have a rigid, uncomfortable feel to them, which is a little disappointing. Just another reason to crack on through the jobs and get to house flipping itself.
House flipping, then, is probably the most fun part of story mode thanks to the removal of those aforementioned quests. Now it’s up to you and your own eye for design. A stepping stone, perhaps, towards the full sandbox mode. You go from zero to 100 as the handholding and quests stop altogether. Want to knock down all the walls and build them back up? Do it. Want to leave everything as is and just chuck a coat of paint over it all? Go for it. Furnish it or leave it empty, it’s up to you. Of course, the value of the property depends on how much work you put in, and the cost of furnishing the place naturally comes out of your costs, but in that sense, it’s just like flipping houses in real life – without the risk. The more money you make, the more houses you can buy and flip, and so on. This is where you can really get into it, improve your skills and your eye, and have a bit more fun. As you need more money, you can still carry out those old easy jobs for people around town for some quick cash. To its credit, every part of the House Flipper 2 story mode fits together.
Aside from some new tools, story mode is much the same as the first game, so if you’re a series veteran, you might be desperate to hear about sandbox mode. Sandbox mode is new for House Flipper 2 and allows you to build a complete house from the ground up, rather than flipping an existing one. This is a great idea, made even better by the fact that you can add stains, dirt, and destruction to these buildings, add quests, and upload them for other players to renovate, picking someone else’s creation to work on yourself. It’s not just a Sims-like building mode.
From my time with sandbox mode, though, that’s all it is so far: a great idea. In contrast to the handholding of story mode, you are left completely to your own devices in sandbox mode, which has entirely new mechanics. Unless I’ve just not got that far yet, I’ve not had to build a roof in story mode, for example, and so I have zero clue how to do so in sandbox mode. I’ve played around with the feature, and it’s not as intuitive as building a wall, but there is no tutorial or guidance to help. What I will say is that there is a YouTube link in-game, which suggests some video guides are coming to the official Frozen District YouTube channel – they’re just not there in the pre-release time I’ve had with the game.
Again, it’s difficult to test in pre-release availability, as there aren’t many other people on as I type, but it’s also not immediately obvious if you can save your sandbox build-in-progress. It seems, from what I can tell, that when you save a property, it is immediately available in the public property finder. One other property popped up for me in the same place as my own part-finished creation, then disappeared again. From what I’ve seen, sandbox mode comes across as underdeveloped at launch.
Another blinding omission from House Flipper 2, and House Flipper according to online comments, is an undo button, which also brings me back to my point about doing just about anything you want without repercussion. It’s incredibly easy to misclick and place a splash of paint or a tile in the wrong place in story or sandbox mode, especially if or when you’re trying to rush through those dull story jobs. Here, it would be useful to have a simple undo button. Presumably, the reason for this omission is the realism aspect. Paint a wall in the wrong place in real life and you have to paint over it, you can’t just make it disappear – but this is still a game, you can still ‘fly’ in sandbox mode, and building a wall takes all of a minute, so, for me, the ability to undo a small mistake wouldn’t break the immersion.
During a surface or painting quest in story mode, the area you’re supposed to paint is highlighted for you. Let’s say you accidentally paint outside of that area, or place a tile in a painted area, and you cannot undo this. Instead, you have to paint or cover over the top. If this is an area you’ve already painted, this is fine, especially if you haven’t sold that bucket of paint yet. However, if this is a wall that didn’t need to be touched, it isn’t easy to color-match and repaint. On multiple occasions, then, I found myself repainting an entire wall I didn’t need to, just to cover up one small mistake. This isn’t only frustrating and time-consuming but affects the income you earn for the job due to the cost of the extra paint. It also completely negates the given quests and suggested realism, as you can actually paint any color anywhere, and the client doesn’t seem to care. It’s small things like this – the lack of an undo button, the quests, and the conflict between too much handholding and not enough – that let this otherwise cute and satisfying game down.
Overall, there’s a lot of potential in House Flipper 2, but for a sequel, especially a sequel to a successful game, it seems lacking in meaningful evolution, and when it does attempt to expand on the original, it falters. There were times I had fun and found myself getting into it, particularly when I finally got to house flipping itself, which begs the question of whether sandbox mode was really necessary and whether the first game’s story mode could have just been further improved upon for the sequel.
While there is a lot of potential in House Flipper 2, it hits too many stumbling blocks that prevent it from achieving greatness. If you don’t bother with sandbox mode, at least in its current state, and opt to rush through the restrictive story mode quests, house flipping itself is good fun. So perhaps House Flipper 2 should just stick to its name and what it does best.
This story originally appeared on PC Gamesn