Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch
April 22, 2021
From the minute the game loaded, I knew I was in for an immersive and unique journey. True to my assumptions, Buildings Have Feelings Too! delivered. Full of whimsy and charm from the outset, I sagged into my chair ready to sink hours into this gorgeous, 18th-century themed city-builder. I love city-builders, so Buildings Have Feelings Too!’s offer of anthropomorphic buildings making their own requests and desires seemed very much in my wheelhouse. However, instead of leading me into a world of city-building bliss, I found myself frustrated, confused and just downright irritated at either my lack of understanding of the game mechanics or the lack of flexibility in the game’s puzzle-solving. Actually, if I’m to be honest, this feels like less of a city-builder and more of a puzzle game, as it seems there are very specific positions and goals required to continue.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is a 2D building and management game, truly unique amongst its peers. You control a generic building named ‘The Halfway Hotel’ and set out to revitalize the town and help the other buildings. The buildings have sprouted limbs and found their voice, which is represented by a rather charming brick crackling sound alongside their captions. The writing, I should add, is brilliant and witty. 10/10 in that department. The language is true to the time period and I found myself laughing at the comical requests buildings came up with, as well as the teasing and taunting between them. It is super charming, which is hard to do these days. I wanted to help my fellow buildings feel happier in their surroundings, but they just made it so damned hard.
Within the game you’ll build, designate jobs and rearrange the buildings in your city, on a 2D plane. There are limited spots where you can place buildings and limited resources to build with. Each building also requires other buildings that supply them with bonuses to help them upgrade. Buildings make it easy for you to know what they want by adding the ability to ask the buildings what they need. You can also go into the building’s overview to see how to raise their appeal, and what’s nearby that might be lowering their appeal.
“My success was derived from frustration, more so than any calculated resolve.”
‘Rented Rooms’ produce people and the ‘Pub’ produces pints, so having them in a specific radius of each other gives them bonuses, raising their appeal. But a 2 star Rented Room also wants food, so you need to have a ‘Grocer’, and the Grocer needs more people. So you build more Rented Rooms to satisfy that need only to find you are too far away for the Pub to gain the benefits. You now need to rearrange them all to sit within their influence radiuses. Simple, right? Well, in the beginning maybe, but when you start going through your tasks and unlocking newer jobs, the requests start getting exponentially more difficult to accomplish.
In truth, I only made it through the first city by using ‘slider puzzle’ techniques of just moving stuff around until it worked. My success was derived from frustration, more so than any calculated resolve. By the time I made it to the new city I was daunted by the complexity and ridiculousness still yet to come. Buildings Have Feelings Too! created a surprising amount of anxiety for me, despite presenting like such a friendly experience. City-builders and management games surely bring some strategy and anxiety with them, but the precise requirements needed to proceed with the added space restrictions within this game are as complex to me as a Rubik’s Cube, and those things perplex me to no end! The game also offers no quicksave and no undo. If you accidentally or inadvertently move an upgraded building away from the buildings giving it the bonuses it needs, you have a race against time to stop the building from self-demolishing and spending your hard-earned resources to repair and redesignate it, starting the whole damned puzzle from the beginning again.
The controls on Switch don’t entirely help either, as it was difficult to be concise with where I wanted to place each building on the 2D play space. Sometimes I found myself accidentally moving a whole row of buildings without the ability to undo it. I was stuck at one stage manually moving 5 buildings, trying to get them back to where they were before, only to find it wouldn’t let me. I wasn’t sure if it was a glitch or player error, but I can assure you it created a palpable amount of frustration. Whilst the controls did feel clunky and strange, each menu highlighted the controls needed in a clear and concise manner.
Whilst I am not a fan of the specifics of the gameplay here, Buildings Have Feelings Too! is definitely very unique in its delivery. There needs to be some serious parameter changes to make the game less restrictive or at least balance the difficulty curve to be more forgiving early on. The slow release of jobs and the business index was interesting to see but lacked any real explanation. I wasn’t sure how to unlock the next tier of buildings, and when they did unlock, I found myself trying to figure out how it happened.
The true gem with this game is everything outside the gameplay. The UI is beautifully set out, colour coordinated and themed appropriately with the 18th-century vibe. The symbols within a job’s requirements were presented aptly and I was able to figure out what the game was asking for without written subtitles. The graphics and design are just gorgeous. I love the buildings in their design and their animation. Someone spent a lot of time on the finer details and I need to appreciate that for a moment. Let us not forget the sound and music design either. Considering this was a frustrating game to play, the music did not amplify that frustration. The game’s jaunty and cheerful tunes washed over me with a sense of calm and helped me push through. Sometimes looped music in indie games can be incredibly dull or annoying and I find myself muting them in favour of my Spotify playlist. This game’s music, however, kept me engaged and in line with the theme of the game. I absolutely love the sound effects. I do very much enjoy ASMR and the crunching of bricks when the buildings are talking is absolutely delightful. The sounds for the placing of buildings, footsteps and creation of buildings are all perfect in their execution.
- Beautifully implemented sound design
- Whimsical graphic design and theme
- Witty and engaging story and dialogue
- Frustrating and difficult gameplay
- Restrictive city management
- Stringent and specific puzzle-solving skills needed to enjoy
- Extreme difficulty curve
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is an incredibly quaint and gorgeous game that also fills you with absolute rage, which is honestly quite a feat. The confusing connection between whimsy and frustration doesn’t entirely feel like the desired intention of the creators. This game has amazing potential to be a unique and engaging building management simulator but instead falls short, burdened by its own rules and regulations that rival the dullest of body corporate committees. Go in expecting great dialogue, visuals and sound, but be aware, there is little room for management and experimentation here due to the tight constraints and restrictive solutions to the puzzles.