Review: Buildings Have Feelings Too
By: Sahara McGirt (DarthSagaSwag)
Developer: Blackstaff Games
Publisher: Merge Games
Available on: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
Review console: Xbox Series X
What if walls could talk? Well, Blackstaff Games has an answer in the form of Buildings Have Feelings Too! This ode to architecture and changing cityscapes gives voice to buildings existing in an ever-evolving landscape. One that the player controls.
As a bit of an architecture nerd, Buildings Have Feelings Too! appealed to me in that it mirrors how cityscapes change. When you have lived long enough, you'll see whole neighborhoods transform with buildings being demolished, sometimes moved brick by brick, or changing their fronts as they convert from storefront to a restaurant to storefront again. Buildings Have Feelings Too! plays on this real-life phenomenon by giving buildings personalities and their own ideas about how their neighborhoods should look.
The opening scene of Buildings Have Feelings Too! has the camera pan away as a building meets its destruction and other buildings watch on. This scene immerses players in the game's novelty, which gives buildings emotions and the people of the cityscapes exist as shadowy stick figures oblivious to the turmoil the architecture around them are going through.
The player's job is to raise the appeal of neighborhoods by rearranging, building, and demolishing structures using bricks that they earn by completing tasks that buildings give them. However, be warned, the challenge of Buildings Have Feelings Too! is in allocating bricks properly. If players are not too careful, they could use up all their bricks and end up in sticky situations where they have to destroy whole neighborhoods to get the bricks they need.
The trick to the gameplay in Buildings Have Feelings Too! is to rearrange and keep rearranging buildings as players build up the appeal of neighborhoods. Maximizing a neighborhood's appeal is both as easy and as complex as simply placing the right building with appealing traits beside another. Placing the wrong building too close to a specific type of building can lead to a building decaying over time until it needs repairs. Though in Buildings Have Feelings Too! not unlike the real world, sometimes demolishing buildings is much cheaper than repairing them.
At some points, I wished there was a little more in-depth information in the guide section of the start menu of Buildings Have Feelings Too! as I got stuck a few times figuring out how exactly I was supposed to complete some quests. Sometimes tasks will want you to meet specific criteria to complete them but then have very little explanation on how to meet that criterion. A lot gets left up to players to figure out.
Aesthetically, the "characters" of Buildings Have Feelings Too! have that early 1900s industrial brick factory look. Which makes sense as the game starts "circa 1900". The world is moving out of the industrial era, and the buildings have to get with the times and make changes in purpose, turning from brick factories to brick storefronts and homes.
These changes are central to the game. As players enter neighborhoods, the primary task givers are buildings who want to see changes made to build their neighborhoods' appeal. Some of these quests are quite amusing, from moving chimney stacks so that they don't pollute their coughing neighbors to an old factory building becoming an alcoholic as they can't cope with the changes the player enacts. Often as I played the game, I wondered If the changes I made in the neighborhoods actually made them better as some buildings did not quite seem satisfied with the changes.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is a pretty fun and challenging game. However, it suffers from a series of bugs requiring players to have the patience to complete it. Some of the bugs I encountered were buildings following me freezing in their tracks and getting stuck, buildings being unable to upgrade despite meeting max appeal criteria, and the floating red x meter that appears over buildings degrading getting stuck in the air even as buildings were removed from under them. The game's background music will also randomly disappear, which, if playing this game with sound, does kill the vibe of the game somewhat.
All of these bugs go away with a simple reloading of the game. Buildings Have Feelings Too! autosaves quite frequently, so progress is rarely lost. None of the bugs seem to be game-breaking. Having to reload games and change locations to fix bugs can get annoying for players and prolong a game experience that would be pretty enjoyable otherwise.
Whether you're into architecture, interesting indie games with novel concepts, or you like to wonder, "What if buildings had feelings?", Buildings Have Feelings Too! might be a game you want to check out. That is if you can be patient enough to deal with the handful of bugs that come with the game's overall quirkiness.
This game was reviewed with an Xbox review key provided through Evolve PR.