I’ve played plenty of sim games over the years, left to balance finances, build roads to link worlds, plough fields to make money, and drive trains across the UK in terribly snowy conditions. I’ve been a farmer, a bus driver, a train driver and even a god-like overseer of a world, making decisions from up amongst the clouds. What I’ve never been is a building itself; a building that is making all the decisions. But in reality, whatever sim game you play it’s the buildings which are in control of the world; tall ones, grumpy ones, snooty ones, nice ones, and smelly ones. You’ll want to listen to the buildings too, for in Buildings Have Feelings Too!, it is they who are the gods.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! starts in the year 1900, at the height of the Victorian industrial age. You play a building, which is not too big or too small, disregarded from the docklands to wander around a neighborhood. Here you befriend a block of flats, ripe for residents, and a small warehouse that now sees their internals used as a grocer, but used to be a linen mill. They very quickly become your friends and tell you what to do – and you’ll want to follow those instructions. There is a story here and it’s one told through the witty dialogue which takes place between the buildings themselves, but don’t look too deeply into the lore or question why the buildings are involved in deep zonal planning and neighborhood management. You won’t find the answers I’m afraid, because Buildings Have Feelings Too! is all about the gameplay.
A mix of a puzzler and a sim game, your main goal is to build the perfect neighborhood; one where everybody is happy and you find success in completing several objectives that are listed in your goals. You have a currency and, of course, that currency is bricks – these are earned by completing objectives. You can build a building using these bricks, stuff from a warehouse, or office block, or even a housing unit. You then add a business to these buildings that could, for example, cover a grocers, or linen mills or cafes, or family housing units. The thing is, each building has its own needs and wants, with these found when you select the building and look at the description. For example, when you build a pub, you might also need to build a whiskey distillery within the local area. But then, in order for this business to prosper, you’ll also need homes so people can visit.
The problems arise from how each building is situated next to another. A linen mill will produce pollution that will affect housing, which in turn lowers the appeal. However, should you worm in enough options, you will find that you can upgrade buildings when they achieve certain factors like their appeal; when this happens Buildings Have Feelings Too! opens up more options, allowing for a variety of further types of buildings. For instance, progress enough and cafes and restaurants will replace the old pubs. Fitting complementing buildings in the street is hard and that’s where the puzzle elements come into play, all as you attempt to discover the perfect balance of what is needed, what should be placed where, and which work with others. Thankfully, it’s easy to move the buildings around with a handy click of the RB button.
The problem is, Buildings Have Feelings Too! isn’t just tricky in terms of the puzzling aspect; the controls are strange and not very intuitive. Further to that, the difficulty level rises extremely quickly and at times will leave you utterly confused about what to do next. This isn’t helped when a business that fails for reasons of location, proximity, or lack of material supply is suddenly hit with a timed countdown, and before you know it the building has gone bust, leaving you with no option but to spend bricks on demolition or a new business. Honestly, I found the difficulty level frustrating, but of course others may welcome the challenge.
The visuals are delightful though, and it’s always a pleasure to see a building with little arms and legs walking along. It’s nice that a decent variation in tone is used too, especially in regards to the time era you are playing. Occasionally the whole look gets a bit confusing, particularly when you are looking for gaps in the neighborhood rows because there is so much on the screen, but I’ll take that as part of the puzzle element of the game. Accompanying the visuals is a bubbly soundtrack that is absolutely fine initially, but does start to grate after a while.
The charm and originality means that Buildings Have Feelings Too! is infectious to begin with, however it doesn’t take long for things to go awry. The control system fast becomes clunky and it’s certainly not a game that is as intuitive as it should be. The difficulty also ramps up far too quickly, and I found myself stuck many a time; left with no bricks and no idea how to move forward. And that in turn sees Buildings Have Feelings Too! become frustrating. If you’re after a city sim-styled puzzler that delivers a different twist and have ever wondered what buildings really think, then you may find this covers what you are looking for, but it isn’t long before frustration arises.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is now available on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One