City-building games usually follow a well-established template. There is an empty terrain lot, some initial infrastructure, and a tight budget for making that terrain blossom into a concrete supernova of life. Apart from the usual technicalities required by specific buildings, no one ever cared about the poor buildings’ feelings. Buildings Have Feelings Too!, a peculiar mix of a city management game and a puzzle game, is set to change that for good.
In Buildings Have Feelings Too! you control a „manager building” on a mission to improve a failing stereotypical British city set at the very end of the Victorian age. Upon arriving, your avatar building finds out that the local ones are way past their glory days and that they are pretty bummed about it. To help them, your building goes on a quest to improve all of the city neighborhoods, one by one. Each area works as a level, and each one has a specific mini-story within itself.
Once you set foot in one of the hoods, you will be shocked – no top-down view, no menus at the top or bottom of the screen, the game is a side scroller! It even suggests that it’s best experienced with a gamepad! Your manager building goes around the neighborhood, talks with other buildings, and looks after them. Does a grocery store need a supply of customers? No problem, build a residential building next door. Maybe the law office could use office supplies? An accountant office next door will do. Is the residential building having air pollution problems with the nearby factory? Move the factory away. All buildings require specific yields from their neighbors, and they give something in return. Provide the buildings with too little of the necessary stuff, and it will rot. In short, you will find almost all the challenges of a classic urban planning game in BHFT!, but here the perspective is a bit shifted. You will constantly balance between the needs of one building, the neighboring ones, and the ever-present lack of maneuvering space.
For things to progress, you will need to upgrade your buildings as efficiently as possible. Since there is only one resource, there are not many obstacles to achieving that goal, but the somewhat forced simplicity will easily challenge you. That limits the number of possibilities for the player, so some advanced spatial planning is required. That is where the puzzle aspect of the game kicks in. Besides constructing your happy cute buildings, you will also have to move them around constantly, so their neighborhood matches their ever-growing needs. As the number of buildings grows, this becomes more complicated. At some point in the game, you will find yourself juggling with several building types while planning so far ahead that it will be hard to keep track of what you need to upgrade and for what reason.
Many players will welcome the challenge, but it stands in the sharpest contrast with the general vibe of the game. It never stops holding your hand, but the mind-boggling planning aspect is up to you. Sometimes, problems arise in this aspect, but more on that later. However, the perceived difficulty of the game would have been overly frustrating if it wasn’t for its irresistibly charming nature. A humorous video game devoid of any cynicism is a rare sight these days. Buildings Have Feelings Too! shines by being so naive, charming, and good-natured. That alone is enough to make an everlasting good impression.
The game’s humble and cute visuals are the pillars of its irresistible charm. While it may not be the prettiest 2.5D game in existence, Buildings Have Feelings Too! could be a feast for your artistic sensibility. The masterfully water-colored pastel environments of early XX century Britain will make you feel as cozy as a cat in front of a fireplace. The buildings pop out of the background, yet they seem organic in every scene. On top of all this, the minimalistic animations are so charming and cute that you will find yourself lost in the silly universe.
The whimsical personalities of your concrete friends are so wholesome that you will feel the warmth through the screen. All of them have lines of dialogue, and the main building of each level will even talk to you and give you quests. The buildings of the same type look the same, but the game succeeds in making you believe they all have their personalities. Since Buildings Have Feelings Too! happens at the very end of the Victorian age, the brick-and-mortar characters all have this aura of Victorian gentlemen. That is where the game truly shines. The buildings and their requirements, animations, and temperaments manifest so irresistibly charming and cute that you will legitimately start to care about their feelings.
However, there are several obstacles on the game’s way to perfection. As we have said earlier, the game will try and hold your hand as much as possible, but at the same time, it makes little effort to help you when you are stuck. The tutorial never seems to end, and yet again, it is not that helpful. Luckily, you will get there after a couple of trial-and-error sessions. Several bugs also contributed to this. At several points, it was impossible to progress due to some interface elements refusing to work. At other times, certain parts of the GUI failed to properly close, blocking the crucial view of the screen. These were solved by starting the game from the beginning, but restarting your late game progress more than once is too frustrating. Not to nitpick, but if there are any sequels planned, it would be nice to hear buildings when they speak. Give them a Cockney accent, and you’ll hit the jackpot.
BHFT! has a lot of good ideas, but with some proper depth could have been great. This way, the game will be a perfect lighthearted pastime for some time. For a pretty short game, it is a good source of fun.
- Truly charming setting with good humor.
- The overall gameplay is quite addictive.
- The mix of casual gameplay and intermediate challenges works well.
- Tutorial is too vague.
- Several bugs can stop you from progressing.