An interior decorator! An interior decorator! My kingdom for an interior decorator!
If you’re like me, you’ve poured dozens and dozens of hours into House Flipper — last I checked, I’ve clocked a total of 83 hours of painting, gardening, and designing for the same few families purchasing a pixelated roof over their pixelated heads. It’s been fun, certainly, but after nearly 100 hours I’ve been yearning for a few more features; for one, I’d love to actually build the houses I’m selling. Maybe the missions could have a little more personality to them. And hey, if I want to be the queen of my castle after a hard day’s work bench-pressing kitchens, then I should be able to build an entire castle, right? Right. House Flipper, I still love you, but I need something a little more… royal. Regal. Medieval? Sure, let’s go with that. Let’s go with Castle Flipper.
Despite what the opening paragraph may have lead you to believe — what I may have lead you to believe — House Flipper and Castle Flipper were not created by the same team. While Empyrean and Frozen District are responsible for the former, Pyramid Games, Gaming Factory, and Ultimate Games are responsible for the latter. As such, it’s of critical importance to take note of the team’s words when they say that it’s so much more than “just medieval House Flipper” because… well, it is. Available on Steam for only $18.99, you’re able to scope it out for yourself and see just what that means, but here’s a few hundred words more elaborating on that.
Castle Flipper opens up on some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that there’s been a death in the family — Grandpa died :(. Good news? He’s left some huge tracts of land behind for his grandlord/lady (AKA, you). Since you seem to know your way around a hammer and some nails, this bodes pretty well for you — all you have to do is get the gold, stone, and timber required to trick out this empty plot into a legitimate kingdom. How? Start by taking some jobs from nearby nobles, cleaning up their camps and rekitting their own kingdoms, and you’ll be ready to rule in no time.
If you’ve played House Flipper, you might think you already know the controls — and, to an extent, you do — but they are somehow worse. Left click still picks up garbage nice and easy, but instead of using right lick to open up your reno-arsenal, you’ll need to hold down Tab to choose a few different tools. This won’t be an issue for you if this is your first Flipper, but for those of us who have renovated less regal abodes, it’s a mistake you’ll keep on making. Almost everything else is pretty seamless, so there’s no need to stress about control schemes for very long.
When it comes to missions, Castle Flipper absolutely outshines its more modest counterpart in terms of quality. There’s certainly the familiar “try to learn new controls” angle, but there’s more to it than just meeting goals. Instead of just focusing on cleaning castle, there are hidden treasure chests and notes to discover that yield gold and story progression. Although no people can be found in the stone hallways, they leave notes behind that will tell you more about little plots happening around you, such as a marriage agreement gone sour, quarreling neighbors, and even an alien trying to get back home. Additionally, the missions themselves were less “put furniture here” and “find missing pieces of the ship and put it back together,” and I feel like the puzzle elements really enhanced the otherwise monotonous gameplay (not a knock on Castle Flipper, these games tend to just be this way… in a good way… but also a tedious way… you get it, right?).
Speaking of levels, Castle Flipper doesn’t just stop at castles — in fact, it doesn’t even start with them! Your first missions are in quaint little medieval towns, impressive sea-faring wooden ships, and even dank dungeons. The game really builds up to castles, making it feel very rewarding once you actually get there, but until then the level diversity will keep you on your toes, excited for what’s next. I genuinely didn’t want to stop playing Castle Flipper until I had finished every last mission just to see what other levels the team had crafted for players.
After a few hours, those levels will come to an end, and that’s when Castle Flipper turns into a sandbox mode. By this point, you’ll hopefully have accrued more huge tracts of land, which you’ll need to really build up your kingdom. By building homes and businesses from the ground up and renting them out to townsfolk, then creating your very own castle to keep, you’ll rule the land — and collect on that sweet, sweet rent money. Of course, being a landlord isn’t easy, as the peasants tend to make a mess of their homes, farms, and taverns. For some reason, they’ll also refuse to pay rent until YOU clean up THEIR mess, which… what kind of landlord does that? Like, I get it from a mechanic standpoint (you get stone and timber this way), but it’s more frustrating than rewarding, and something that needs some serious rework.
At this point, everything I had fallen in love with about Castle Flipper came crashing down a bit. Where the missions had been an absolute blast to breeze through, building a bustling kingdom was an exercise in frustration. There are still a lot of tweaks that need to be made, such as adding a grid to make things more even, allowing stairs to be built easier without requiring a roof, and those serfs better have my money and keep their rooms clean (seriously, I hate that so much). With that being said, the pros still outweigh the cons, and that will become even more true as time goes on. Basically, if you’re not sold on Castle Flipper now, give it a little time while the devs renovate — it’ll be showroom ready in no time.
Castle Flipper adds a fresh twist to the burgeoning builder genre by providing puzzles and personality that make a seemingly empty world feel surprisingly alive. With the power to build not only immense castles but tiny towns teeming with signs of life, landlords and landladies will quickly come up with a treasure trove of backstories for their kingdoms in Castle Flipper. Complete with a musical score that feels right at home in a cozy Dungeons and Dragons campaign, Castle Flipper pleases now and promises more later. Claim your throne with Castle Flipper (or in the very least clean up after those lazy peasants) on Steam today.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Gaming Factory, Ultimate Games; Developer: ▲ Pyramid Games; Players: 1; Released: May 26, 2021; MSRP: $18.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Castle Flipper provided by the publisher.