It’s been a little bit since I flipped. I was an early fan of the idea of a house flipping game, and excited at the prospect, only to be presented with House Flipper, a title that was in theory exactly what I wanted, but in practice, well, just ended up being disappointing. Since House Flipper arrived on PC and console, there have been a few interesting twists on the standard formula–namely the DLCs Garden Flipper, HGTV’s addon to the vanilla House Flipper, and Apocalypse Flipper. Still, all of those DLC were attached to a game that just didn’t measure up, with tons of bugs and janky controls on both PC and Switch, and frustrating controls that’d make each flip more difficult than it should be.
This made me a little more than skeptical when a brand new title in the ‘Flipperverse’ came about. Castle Flipper was developed by a different team, Pyramid Games, still under the eye of Ultimate Games. As it turns out, this may have been the change needed, as Castle Flipper, while still not flawless, is a lot more fun to play, and makes the necessary changes to the controls and gameplay to remove old frustrations but keep people familiar with House Flipper feeling at home.
In Castle Flipper, you play as a person who’s just inherited some land from their grandfather, and is now entrusted to build an entire kingdom around it. No pressure, right? Much like House Flipper, this initial plot is your home base, and you’ll be doing a series of jobs outside base that will serve as the meat of the gameplay, helping acquaint you with new skills while earning money and the know-how to pimp out your own castle and become a king, eventually.
Your starting jobs will mainly have you picking up garbage and putting things back together. This helps ease you into the mechanics without overwhelming you. But unlike House Flipper, where this stage lasted entirely too long, new skills are added at a better clip. Add to this that Castle Flipper starts you up with building right away, having you build your first house on your new land almost immediately, and you’re off to the races with a lot more to play around with and at least for me, a lot more excitement to do so.
Gameplay in Castle Flipper will be familiar to anyone who’s played House Flipper. Fortunately, while familiar, it’s also vastly improved upon. House Flipper “featured” a treasure trove of terrible controls and bugs, from imprecise mouse/controller issues to skipping tool wheels, flat out broken scans, button presses that didn’t register, etc. Playing Castle Flipper immediately impressed me simply because it didn’t have all these glaring issues. The tool wheel worked as it should, and though I did have some performance issues where I shouldn’t have seen them, it was pretty solid. Gone were the pesky glitches, movement felt less than drunken, and tidying up actually felt fairly satisfying. They even streamlined a few things, making the tool wheel less complicated and chopping down a lot of the unnecessary and tedious progression House Flipper split over tool upgrades and your character’s multitude of talent trees. Things have been trimmed down, and it makes the overall experience a lot less cumbersome.
There’s even room for somewhat of a story in Castle Flipper, with a few added features, like the ability to run, jump and explore the area around your job site, which even becomes necessary in a few cases. You can find extras, too, like notes with more “lore” and a dash of cheesy humor I’m not mad at, and treasure chests which will boost thine coffers so you can get to that cozy castle before you’re retirement age. You can also improve land to rent to various tenants, which will get you one step closer to your goal of being king.
The best thing Castle Flipper does is get out of its own way. With much improved controls, more pared down progression, a little flavor (even if strange) and more freedom, you can have a lot more fun with what you came to do: flip. Whether that means repairing your neighbor’s trebuchet or getting out of the dungeon you accidentally (?) got locked in on a job, everything is that much nicer. Building back at home is more fun too, and though there’s not as much variety in furniture and objects as I’d want to start, I could buy myself an armored horse, which more than made up for it.
Building is a lot more precise, too, as guides help show you when you can and can’t place things and silhouettes are exact enough that you know what you’re supposed to put in any place that’s empty. The catalog is easy to use and access, and you can even customize your toolbar in every level to sort of “hotkey” items you use a lot like tables and chairs, something I didn’t even know I’d want or need, but turned out to be pretty nice. There was even an amusing puzzle minigame to unlock additional furniture!
If I had any pain points in Castle Flipper it was with two different aspects–quests and saving. In House Flipper, one of the most maddening things about the gameplay was that you couldn’t look at quests at all when you were “on a job site.” You had a checklist that appeared in the upper left and a catalog to look at but you couldn’t go back and see what specific colors were requested for paint or what damn chair type Marlene wanted for her sewing room. Castle Flipper uses a quest system you can access at any time with Q, which is great, but somehow still manages to make a huge mistake in that quests can’t be saved in the middle. You can save when you’re at base, and Castle Flipper saves automatically for you when you complete a quest, but if you’re at 80/160 trash in the Ice Fortress and dinner’s about to burn, you’re back to piece 1 when you return, and that’s more than a missed opportunity–it’s a red flag. Other than that, tutorials sometimes need to be repeated or slowed down so you don’t miss something vital, like the need for scaffolds in some areas.
Still, there’s more good than bad here, and I actually enjoyed my time with Castle Flipper. I had a few chuckles at intentional and unintentional humor in the “story” progression, I was able to complete quests without much headache, and more than that–maybe castle flipping is just more fun than house flipping overall, with the addition of turrets and parapets and trebuchets and torture devices. In House Flipper, I often found jobs frustrating and tedious, but Castle Flipper gets the pacing right, and introduces mechanics that you can’t wait to take home and try out on your own property. By the time you finished the quest line, you’ll be fat on cash and land and have the opportunity to build your very own majestic castle–and that’s just what I’ll do.
Castle Flipper is available now on Steam.
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