Nestled in among all the indie announcements of recent times there was one that stood out to me – Buildings Have Feelings Too! – sentient old-timey buildings wander around chatting and cracking bad puns in the trailer and seem to be levelling up. I had zero understanding of what exactly was going on, but I knew that I wanted to.
So, what is this game exactly about?
Played in 2-D, the player is a cheery building trying to fix their neighborhoods. The idea is to raise the appeal of a street, and meet specific mission targets by placing harmonious buildings next to one another. This is done by building, upgrading, and moving different types of buildings along the path. For example, residential buildings will boost each other so that they can have new stats like ‘Friendly Locals’, which in turn will mean that buildings like pubs can then be upgraded, with the pubs needing distilleries for their ‘Whiskey Barrel’ characteristics. In turn, residential areas don’t like distilleries so there needs to be some balance (and distance) between these two.
There is an upgrade tree that can be improved by unlocking specific tasks so that grocery stores can become Cafes, Pie Shops, etc. Everything is interlinked and the way that the building ecosystem works reminded me of Rare’s classic Viva Pinata, which was a welcome surprise seeing as it has been a long time since that series saw an entry.
Like its peers, BHFT starts off very mellow, its music is a laid-back tune that reminded me of Eels and Mr. Scruff. The dialogue is littered with anachronistic British slang, with the buildings’ inner voices frequently cracking dad-jokes in an endearing manner.
It is not all whimsy though as there are points of friction. Misplaced buildings will start to damage others; repairing these will cost bricks, the currency required to build more places, and there are times when the player will be frantically arranging and rearranging building line-ups to try and maximise appeal and avoid a misplaced upgrade breaking synergies.
The problem is that, more than once, I would place a building on a different point, see no warning of imminent break, go somewhere else, only to return later and find the edifice had busted off screen. That feeling of not having that communicated to me immediately led to some elements of frustration.
Adding to the frustration in a different way is that the set missions are strict on how to progress, but the freeform approach the player can take feels both aimless and constricting. I really wanted a sandbox mode where I could make some mistakes independent from the campaign, or just make a fun looking street. Alternatively, a time/resource-based challenge that placed more restraints but put greater emphasis on understanding how each building type reacted to one another would have been appreciated.
All of the last paragraph is complaining about what BHFT is not. I want to stress that there is a lot of content here with 9 areas to unlock and a deep development tree for those who want to dig in. The cheery image of two buildings skipping hand in hand never gets old, and the reward of solving and evolving a street (sometimes at the cost of other areas) encouraged me to keep playing.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is an early summer comfort – a relaxing puzzle game, with a little bit of city sim, that is worth playing when approached on its own terms.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.