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House Flipper 2 Review

Why are so many people finding satisfaction in simulation games about manual labor? Farming, building, power washing - there’s some deep psychological study to be done on creating the illusion of productivity, but I couldn’t care less. All I know is that if I can’t make sure this garage extension has perfect ebony paneling, I will have brought shame to the good name of my ancestors. House Flipper 2 has reawakened my dormant obsession with wallpaper and trash collection, building on the success of the first cult game with a new coat of paint and some noticeable gameplay improvements.

Like in the original House Flipper, you spend your time in House Flipper 2 renovating houses, which involves everything from cleaning to demolition to picking out new furniture. There are requests from characters that you can fulfill and houses you can buy, fix up, and sell for a profit. The changes to the meat and potatoes of House Flipper are minimal – a quality-of-life addition here, and an extra mode like Sandbox there – which feels like the right balance for fans of a slice-of-life sim like this. If you’re someone who spent hours perfecting their tiling techniques or real estate profit strategies, the last thing you want is to grab a sequel and find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Just the same way you don’t want to buy the new Sims game and find out you have to solve a sudoku puzzle when you want them to woohoo and you have to do their taxes now.

And thus the campaign is back, and it’s a similar story mode that serves as a breezy ride through the various tools and tasks. It’s a good refresher for the veteran foreman, and a solid education for the new kids. The missions arrive by email and vary in their brief: a new room for a baby; renovating a flood-damaged designer home; turning a dilapidated cabin with real “and they could only identify the body with dental records” vibes into a movie set. I’m not talking about Alan Wake 2 levels of plot detail here, but you can only take so much literary gymnastics on the weekend. It’s less about giving you some sort of emotional moment through the power of wardrobe placement, and more about delivering some sense of progression to the soothing repetition of clean, paint, fix, and furnish.

If you want to just keep hitting “buy” and piling that stuff up in the corner to complete a room, that’s between you and your god.

To work your magic there’s a radial menu of tools from cleaning to demolition, a store where you buy materials like wallpaper, furniture, and plants, all equipping you to go through the house ticking off tasks in each room. It keeps track of what you need to paint, what furniture needs to go in that room, and house many stains are left to scrub, but it’s a gentle master. It might tell you how many chairs and lamps a room needs, and what kind, but it’s not marking you on your feng shui or anything. If you want to just keep hitting “buy” and piling that stuff up in the corner to complete a room, that’s between you and your god.

The same goes for painting and wallpapering – it needs you to hit a certain amount on a certain wall, but should you get reckless and freehand the paint roller over the wrong area, feel free to start whistling in a jolly fashion and backing gently away. As a little pat on the back, you earn perks as you use each skill. They sound small, such as being able to get more paint on a roller or faster cleaning, but when you’re restoring a desolate villa you’ll be really happy you earned them. If you’re trying to speed-run a level you can complete a job with just one star, and move on to the next story quest. Like the original, House Flipper 2 only penalizes you in the payout you get, so don't worry about getting in-game calls from teary old grannies who want to know why you sold her toilet and then downed tools.

Don't worry about getting in-game calls from teary old grannies who want to know why you sold her toilet and then downed tools.

One tool on the radial menu did remain a mystery to me through the story quests, and I've yet to need it in any of the fixer-uppers I've bought at auction. It’s a wiring tool that lets you link sockets and appliances throughout the house, but I can’t make heads or tails of it. Either it's designed for more serious builders who live in sandbox mode, or every house I've worked on and sold to families is an electrical death trap. (Or perhaps both.) And people think this type of game offers no adrenaline rushes!

A minor change that pays off in House Flipper 2 is the new visual style, a big step up from the basic, “Haven’t I seen that exact same chair in 12 other indie games?” look of the past. It's one of the stranger quirks of this type of simulation game, whether you're clearing out old barns or renovating a train station, a lot of the objects start to look familiar. It comes from developers being able to buy pre-made game items from other companies, but in House Flipper 2 there's definitely an improvement with an in-game furniture store full of decor and oddities that make everything feel a little fresher.

However, the biggest change that adds bang to the house price buck is the addition of House Flipper 2’s sandbox mode, a chance to start a house from scratch instead of mopping up after a bunch of reprobates and then adhering to their questionable design choices. It’s a nice addition, but after spending some time with it I found I didn’t enjoy actually having to figure out whole floor plans as much as I did messing with ones that were already there. The community is going to build some crazy stuff with it, though, so I look forward to leaving it alone and lazily admiring the Palace of Versailles as rebuilt in House Flipper 2 by a 47-year-old woman from Iowa.

The community is going to build some crazy stuff with sandbox mode.

I should also mention the new Assembly Mode, which brings back an element that’s been removed from the main game in House Flipper 2. In House Flipper: Origins (or whatever we’re calling the first one now) every time you had to install a shower or a sink you could look forward to a slowly animated process of screwing and unscrewing various components; now you can just whack those things into a room without even thinking about a screwdriver. I can imagine a building purist feeling cheated, but I won't miss having to deal with urinal plumbing systems unless I want to. If I ever do, that laborious process is still available – just tucked away in this mode where you have the chance to install raw plugs and get rewarded with store discounts.

For me, House Flipper 2 absolutely nails the flow state that makes this type of sim game such an all-encompassing way to spend your gaming time. The dopamine hits come in little waves, you’d have to be trying very hard to fail, and the stakes are so low that worms tease them about their height. You can decide to get really pissed that some dude is trying to lowball you on your latest flipping project at auction, but that’s an issue between you and your therapist, not something House Flipper 2 does anything to inflict on you.

After finishing the story quests in around ten hours or so - you can do it in less if you're not obsessed about getting mugs on shelves in meticulous formation - I’m working my way through the properties I can flip at auction, and with plenty of houses to cover with pink shag rugs and yellow zebra wallpaper, this will be on my regular gaming rotation whenever I need a break from murdering aggressive alien life or trying to have sex with bears. It’s not the most exciting game out there, but they don’t all have to be.

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