My Demented Adventures In House Flipper
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 repair.
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 Beginnings
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 Behavior
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 Emerges
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, monsters!
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 baby.
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.