If you’re like me, you’ve probably watched a million home-improvement television shows over the years – and if you’re REALLY like me,
it’s not because you wanted to. My wife is the one with the fetish for watching
neurotic people fix up houses – I merely serve as a captive witness, because it
beats using that time to do real-life improvements to our own home. As such,
I’m depressingly familiar with all of the big shows: Clone Creeps, Lady and the Dork, Two F’ing Flops, These Guys Should Star In
A Saw Movie Together, and Holmes On Homes, which is
the only improvement show I respect because Mike Holmes is the BAMF of house
Anyway, as my
obsession with Stardew Valley proved, my disdain for a real-life activity
doesn’t preclude me from mindlessly performing the same act in a video game for
hours on end. That’s why I was both excited and scared when I received a press
release for House Flipper, a
game about cleaning up and repairing homes for profit. Could this finally be a
gateway into my wife’s weird obsession with watching other people do housework?
Could it reverse my bias against home improvement that Tim Allen instilled in me
so many years ago? Would I leave the game with the knowledge necessary to
transform our real-life home into our own personal palace? There was only one
way to find out!
Act I: From Humble
Despite what the name House Flipper led me to believe, I’m
not actually able to dive right into flipping homes when I start the game. Instead,
I’m told I have to get my business off the ground, which I’m apparently running
out of a shack that I’ve claimed via squatter’s rights. I know this because the front door is barricaded by a giant pile of trash – classic squatter tactics.
My new home/office/room-sized toilet is a real pit, so I waste no time cleaning up the
mess. Most of the cleaning is instantly performed by pressing a button when the game
gives you a “dispose” prompt. Stains are cleaned by vaguely waving a mop – which looks suspiciously like a broom – in their general vicinity.
Even I have enough real-world experience to know that’s
totally not how you mop, but it gets the job done, so whatever! After swabbing
everything that looks dirty, I gain enough experience to upgrade my cleaning
skills! This game is already better than real life!
As tempting as “see some dirt in minimap” is as far as skills go (this should be an option in ALL games that have minimaps), I go with “good
mop” instead – only to find that my totally-a-broom mop has been replaced by a
totally-a-push-broom mop. I try it out by cleaning my disgusting toilet.
Yeah…that definitely isn’t right. Regardless, I push ahead,
throwing away all the old boxes and cans and tidying up as best I can. However,
my attempts to create a respectable living space are stymied by a chainsaw (?!)
that’s sitting in the corner, which I can’t get rid of.
After trying to hide it in a few spaces I decide to embrace it instead and make
it a focal point of the room.
That really pulls the room together…in a loner serial killer
kind of way. I decide that the less time I spend in my creepy kill room the
better – time to get working!
Act II: Odd Jobs, Odd
Actual house flipping remains elusive in my first few jobs. Instead,
I play the role of a glorified housemaid, picking up other people’s crap while
silently judging how pathetic their lives are. One woman tasks me with cleaning
up her house and replacing her radiator – which her boyfriend stole. Seriously,
what kind of nutjob steals a radiator?! There was even a flat-screen television
right next to it! Whoever this boyfriend was, he was obviously up to no good.
She’s better off without him.
Replacing the stolen appliance is as easy as opening up my
handy tablet and ordering a new one, then screwing it into place via a few
simple prompts. I also unlock a new squeegee ability, and clean the woman’s
windows so that she can longingly stare out at her less pathetic neighbors when
she gets home.
After getting paid and returning to my chainsaw shack, an
email alerts me to a new job. A housewife wants me to clean out her husband’s garage,
but says that I shouldn’t touch his tools because he’ll get upset if he can’t
find them. Despite sounding like the setup to a porno film, I take the job – anything to get me out of my own creepy house.
Seeing as how the job is to clean the garage, I naturally
storm in the front door and snoop around the entire house first. This family is way
better off than sad radiator lady – they even have a fun children’s room with
pictures and toys!
I head back to the garage, which is full of empty cardboard
boxes and tires. Why was this guy hoarding so many damn tires?
After begrudgingly cleaning up all the husband’s crap, I take all of his tools and stash them
in the children’s room, along with some of the tires I was supposed to get rid
of – that’ll teach you to hire some random dude off the Internet and give him
total access to your house while you’re not at home!
As soon as I return home, I’m alerted to another new skill – I can take photos from my gallery and turn them into pictures that I can hang
on the wall. I try it out on the photo I took in the children’s room, and hang
it above the chainsaw on the nightstand.
I then solemnly reflect on what I’ve
done – I guess I’m now the kind of guy who breaks into people’s homes, takes
pictures in their children’s bedrooms, then hangs them up in my own home as
some kind of demented souvenir. What have I become?
Act III: A Monster
My next job comes from a soon-to-be father, begging me to
not only clean his entire house, but also whip up a nursery, because he and his
wife “have no spare time to clean and renovate the house.” Sounds like they’re
going to be great parents! Maybe I can just raise their damn baby for them while I’m at it! I take the
job anyway, but regret it as soon as I open the front door…
This is way worse than I thought! These people aren’t
qualified to be parents! Can you preemptively call child protection services
before a baby is even born? Either way, I figure it’s my duty to chronicle
their disgusting, child-endangering environment for the inevitable custody trial, so I once again tromp through the entire house taking pictures.
Look at their damn living room! Who lives like this? Even
the guy who steals radiators wouldn’t step foot in here – as evidenced by the still-functional radiator on the back wall.
And finally, here’s the nursery. I’m sure that black mold on
the walls is going to be real good for developing baby lungs! Clearly, the
best option would be to just burn the whole damn house down and collect the
insurance money, but since that’s not an option, I get to work.
This job introduces a new painting mechanic, which requires
you to first buy a bucket of paint, then dip your roller in it before you start laying down strips on the walls. It’s not as fun as the free-form squeegee mechanic, but it is more efficient than my real-life, paint-wherever-the-roller-guides-you technique. Anyway, the couple chose pastel pink for the nursery walls, because
not only are they slobs, they’re also slaves to gender stereotypes. Way to go,
After finishing the paint job, I’m required to buy and
install several pieces of furniture. These include a crib, a changing table,
and two beanbag chairs, which I mash up against the radiator – I’ll burn this
place to the ground one way or another.
Once the job is completed, I decided to spend some of my own
money to put a final flourish on the room: A custom painting for the newborn
There we go – the perfect nursery! Sweet dreams, baby!
I take another picture in their room and hang it up when I
get home, further cementing my in-game persona. There’s no way this end well.
Act IV: The Final Job
Wary of where my life of not-actual house flipping is
leading me, I decide to bet everything on one last job – and it’s a doozy.
Apparently, Antony Grey has some kind of weird, Single White Female obsession with
copying his neighbors, and wants me to both knock down his walls and paint
whichever ones are left standing an ugly blue. He also seems to be under the
impression that I am both cheap and professional – so obviously he hasn’t talked
to any of my former clients. Either way, I aim to please – especially when it
involves a sledgehammer.
Antony has the nicest house of any of my employers so far – so naturally I waste no time in busting it up as much as I can. House Flipper uses
physics to render the chunks of wall that you break down, though they disappear
after a few seconds – finally, one thing I don’t have to clean up myself!
Unfortunately, I get a little too sledge happy, and break
down a wall straight into Antony’s bathroom. He probably wanted to keep that
one, huh? Oh well, can’t stop now!
I’m sure a guy like Antony will be cool taking dumps in his
new, extra-large kitchen, right? If not, I’ll just tell him all his neighbors
are doing it – that’s sure to get him on board.
There, this is way more open! You can really feel the breeze
flow through the entire house now! Antony’s neighbors are going to be SO
jealous. At first I was upset that I couldn’t get rid of the floating doorways,
but they’ve kind of grown on me.
Realizing that I was totally going to fail my job and
probably be thrown in jail for destroying Antony’s house, I decide to once again make the most of being left unsupervised in a stranger’s home. A new tool in my inventory wheel lets me price and sell items! I’m guessing Antony isn’t going to pay me for my handiwork, so the only thing left to do is sell all of his worldly possessions. It’s shocking how quickly I too became a
radiator thief – it really shows that you shouldn’t judge people.
Unfortunately, the game wouldn’t let me go through with my
latest scheme. Dammit, House Flipper! How dare you impose your own moral code
on my house-flipping fantasies! That said, while I may not be the kind of guy
who would sell all of Antony’s furniture…
…I am the kind of
guy who would jam it all into his kitchen for no damn reason. Granted,
there’s not a lot of room to maneuver around the stove, but you could run a
relay race through the rest of the house!
Just when I thought I did Antony a solid, I realized I was
still on the verge of failing the job – I didn’t have enough walls left to
paint in order to finish my second objective! The only solution? Build more superfluous brick walls to paint, sealing up sections of
his house like “The Cask of Amontillado.”
Come into your new cellar, Antony, and taste a fine vintage!
However, every wall I built decreased my first objective for breaking down
walls, trapping me in a deranged catch-22. Obviously this calls for thinking
outside the box…
There we go! Clowns make everything better! Somehow I
managed to meet the bare minimum requirement to complete the project, which
meant Antony was going to pay me after all. Suddenly I felt a pang of remorse
for moving all his furniture into the kitchen like a jerk. I decided to once
again spend my own money on another a custom installation: a giant, blood-red
wall right inside his front door with more one-of-a-kind art.
It really makes a bold first impression, don’t you think? Seeing as how the blood wall left me with almost an entire
bucket of red paint, I decided to give Antony another bonus – I painted his
whole damn house for him! If that’s not the kind of low-cost and professional
service he was looking for, I don’t know what is.
Just wait until the neighbors get a look at this! They’ll be the ones copying Antony
for a change! Or calling an emergency neighborhood meeting. One of the two.
I finally return home – despite getting paid, I think I
still lost money on the job, thanks to all the pointless walls I had to
build and the massive clown pictures I selflessly paid for. But you know what?
Giving Antony his dream home was worth it, and I got another souvenir for above my nightstand. Some
things in life truly are worth more than money.
House Flipper is
available now on Steam, and
can presumably be played in a non-psychotic way. For more laughs, click the
banner below to visit Funny To A Point’s fancy-pants hub.