Buildings Have Feelings Too! Review (Switch)
Honey, I think this Hotel is stalking us.
Available on: Switch/Console/Steam
Genre: City Builder Puzzle
Publisher: Merge Games
When picking up a city builder, we always put the people in the best interests. After all, they’re the ones having to live in your city and it’s not good when they start leaving or dying on you. No matter if the goal is to make the best city where it’s like a well oiled machine no matter how big it gets or building your city around survival as you desperately try to keep everyone alive while getting enough resources to build up and, well, keep everyone alive. Well, what if I told you there is a game where you focus on making the buildings happy and comfortable? Of course, you’ll see the odd person walking around, but don’t mind them.
Buildings Have Feelings Too, you play as a building known as The Halfway Hotel. On one sad day, you and some other buildings had to witness The Dock Yard, known as Old Pete, being demolished and everyone that was there worried about the future where they would be demolished too. Well, except one that is sure that he will be there forever. Knowing the worries of these buildings, you take it upon yourself to help everyone by growing the city, making sure everyone is happy with where they’re at, and having them in tip top shape. Which, in turn, gives everyone less of a chance of being demolished.
To build your city back up, you won’t just be putting down any building that you’d want. Spanning over 9 different locations that you’ll be visiting, you’ll be tasked with completing objectives given by one of the buildings there that seems to have some authority (mainly since they have their own special name to them). You’ll mainly be asked to build buildings to hold certain jobs, then to upgrade them to a certain amount of stars (with 3 being max), and then making sure the location has an overall appeal score that’s tallied up from every building. They can be upgraded by looking at their appeal goals and fulfilling them by putting other businesses around them that give out what they need (and you can see how far they’re reach is by one of their overview options). Like Grocery Stores obviously need People so you put down Rental Homes.
You can also unlock more jobs, which can happen when going to a new area or by getting a job that another branch to 3 stars and maxing the appeal so they’ll realize that the job is a thing. Though, unless you happen to have the perfect set up, this can be frustrating as you need to build a new building (which may need its own secondary shuffle to get enough appeal to not be closed), reshuffle buildings, or needing to redo something because you noticed that it doesn’t have enough reach with the set up you did.
As you can tell, this is also a puzzle hybrid, which becomes more important in the second location and the following ones. While you started with the basic jobs where you learn that buildings with certain jobs need others around them to achieve their appeal goals, there’s a bit more than that. You also unlock different buildings which have their own sizes and then the different kids of jobs attached to them. You can’t exactly have a factory be in a residence building after all. Not to mention you can also have buildings restricted so you can only build so many offices or warehouses. Making sure you have enough room, buildings for what you need, and keeping what you might need to do in the future. Oh, but that’s not all as buildings will also have positive and negative attributes (well aside from what the job provides) attached to either their building or their job. Some jobs will lower appeal, like pollution or their smell, to those around them that are sensitive to it like office buildings with their thin walls. And on the other side of the coin, buildings will come with and be able to receive infrastructure permits which may come with the aforementioned thin walls or bring in an extra attribute. These permits will come in after receiving 2 stars and they have a certain percentage of being granted to you.
However, your buildings have a minimum appeal cut off that will close down the building if you don’t appeal to its goals fast enough. Which can cause you to having to redo the upgrade progress and spend some Bricks on repairs.
You’ll also have to work around restrictions that you’re given and try to complete all the objectives. Like you’ll have buildings that are too stubborn to be moved or have their job changed or ones that you can’t change without making the location better first.
The currency here are Bricks, which make sense. You’ll be able to gain Bricks by completing objectives, upgrading buildings, or demolishing buildings (which the act of demolishing buildings is just not explained that well and the road to doing it doesn’t seem to bring in a profit since you often pay to remove a job). You can then use these bricks to build your new building friends, do any repairs that may be brought on when changing the building’s job, and clearing out rubble that will unlock another section that you can put buildings on. However, you can easily paint yourself into a corner where you have no bricks and can’t do anything. And you won’t be able to reload because this only uses an autosave feature.
I guess there isn’t a better time than any to go into my negatives towards Buildings Have Feelings Too. While this game looks so great and the idea of having your own character walk down the street as you help, it ended up being a source of tediousness. It’s fine when you only have a couple, but it can easily become a hassle when it’s being built up as you’ll take up time walking to grab a building to put it where you need it to be (which can be dreadful for one that’s in the progress of closing) and sometimes you have to manually shuffle buildings when the auto-pusher decides not to work despite having room. I also think it would also be helpful if those nodes meant to help you place buildings (and as a way to measure them for how many spaces they take) should also disappear when the spot is being taken as it does seem like there’s an open/enough space there. I also ended up wishing that all tasks in an objective would be pinned rather than the first (or maybe set one as the focus) as sometimes you need to do the next one over first. Considering the type of game this is, I’m surprised this doesn’t let you have manual saves instead of autosaving as well. Or at least a way to restart the location/level you’re on.
If you’re someone thinking about getting this on the Switch, the performance is good aside from some slowdowns here and there when walking around or in menus. And the only time when I had a long loading screen was starting a new game, as otherwise they go on pretty fast. Though, I did feel like this was a bit awkward to control and often made me struggle at times. I can imagine being able to use a mouse feels way better. However, I did run into a bug where at the beginning of the second area where I couldn’t talk to one of the buildings to get my next task. I tried reloading and restarting the game multiple times, but it just wouldn’t let me continue. Lucking, this didn’t happen again when I went to do a new game, and I did better, but it was still annoying.
I was grabbed by Buildings Have Feelings Too by the charm it had and the ideas it presented. It’s an interesting idea where you don’t focus on the people’s happiness, but the building’s in a city-builder, I love how each building have limbs (though, I’m surprised they don’t sit down) and how they talk by clanking their bricks together, I like their dialog, and I liked the idea of this being more like a puzzle game where you worry over one location at a time and making it the best it can be before you do it to the next location (which is best with how this game is laid out). But, I guess I just didn’t like the execution. It just became tedious to play and found myself getting frustrated rather than having fun or feeling satisfied that I completed a location. I’m sure there are some that will gel well with Buildings Have Feelings Too, but it saddens me that I’m not one of them.