When I think of city management, I think of bustling populations. I think of annoying advisors telling me to stop spending so much money, and I think of inconvenient natural disasters when I get tired of it all. What I don’t think about, what I’ve never thought about, is how the buildings feel during all of this.
That’s the premise in Buildings Have Feelings Too!, a new city management game that tasks you with keeping the buildings themselves happy, and surrounding them with other businesses and establishments they enjoy. Does this flipped version of the genre pan out, or are there faults in the construction? Let’s find out.
Forget Cash, it’s All About Them Cold, Hard, Bricks
As someone who has been a gamer my whole life, I’ve played thousands upon thousands of titles, so one of the things that I always cherish is a game that does something wildly different. They say there are no original ideas left in the world, but I’ve never heard of a city management game where the buildings and their feelings are your primary concern, just saying.
Now, the game bills itself as a city management game, but it’s not quite on that scale. When I think of something like that I imagine an isometric view and a lot of micromanagement across a large city. Here things are level-based and presented in a side-scrolling 2D style, albeit a charming one.
This structure makes sense for the opening tutorials, but I expected some sort of sandbox mode that never came, though it is something that I think would be welcome in a future update to add some replayability to the experience.
Even so, there are elements of the traditional city management concept here. Specifically, the morale of your buildings and how their placement affects your progression.
Barring any objective-specific buildings, you’re free to move and shift the placement of your buildings across the 2D plane you have to work with in Buildings Have Feelings Too! This is helpful because things start simple, but they quickly become more complex as you add in different buildings and their respective needs or preferences.
Buildings come in various shapes and sizes, but as you unlock more options you can tailor what their purpose is going to be, and this is crucial in creating a balance across the buildings in any given area. If you designate one building for housing, then you’ll need to consider the fact that these buildings like to be near pubs or other apartment buildings, for example.
The same goes for more industrial types of buildings, or things like accountants and lawyers, which have their own “appeal goals” as they’re called. While there is a currency consisting of gold bricks that you’ll use to expand your usable land, the main metric you should be concerned with is this “appeal goal” number that is attached to each specific building and based on their specific goals or requirements.
Fulfilling each building’s specific appeal goals to their max value allows you to upgrade the building, up to three stars in total. Letting things get too low, however, will threaten to close the business, so this is where the familiar city management balancing act comes into play.
Once you get past the initial learning curve, Buildings Have Feelings Too! becomes more of a puzzle game than anything, relying on your ability to carefully consider any changes to the functions of your buildings, or any movements you plan to make. It’s not uncommon to relocate a building, only to feel your heart sink as a streak of red runs across the entire block because your carefully constructed balance has come crashing down.
Without any way to undo your last action, Buildings Have Feelings Too! can become frustrating as one wrong move can set you back significantly, and it’s not always obvious how you can rectify things and get back on the path towards success.
A Charming, if Uneven, Presentation
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is a charming game from a visual standpoint, leveraging its 2D perspective to great effect, thanks to buildings that are somehow expressive without any kind of facial features. It comes down to the small details, like the way your main character building strolls across the map, or the way that other buildings dance and weave in place as you pass them by.
I would have loved the option to customize the main character building, but other aspects of the presentation and controls stand out as other areas of potential improvement. Specifically, trying to select a specific building requires you to stand in front of it at just the right angle. Once you’ve got your cursor set you can move it with the d-pad, but trying to get the game to register on a specific building otherwise can be a finicky process.
Other than that, my only other qualm with Buildings Have Feelings Too! is that it’s rigid structure and level-based approach make it feel more like a puzzle game than a strict city management type of experience. I think shifting your expectations accordingly would be beneficial going into it, but those who enjoy juggling various factors and possibilities with each decision will find themselves at home here regardless of their expectations going into it.
Final Score: 7.010
A copy of Buildings Have Feelings Too! was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 4/23/2021