Buildings Have Feelings Too! PC Review

Buildings Have Feelings Too is more like babysitting than urban planning.

By Fragnarok, Posted 28 Apr 2021

Buildings Have Feelings Too is a charming city planning development puzzle game from Blackstaff Games where the buildings and businesses spring to life. Rather than relying on people to fix up the town, the structures are taking it upon themselves to refurbish and redefine each district of the city. This fantasy world is filled with quirky art, dialogue, and themes, but is it enough to truly improve the worn out town?

Players take control of a single unassuming building, traveling between nine neighborhoods and their city streets to renovate old buildings and failed businesses. Played from a side scrolling view, players interact with individual buildings to decide on their business, create brand new buildings in vacant lots, or escort buildings to a different lot. Each building type takes up a set amount of space and can only create certain types of businesses, ranging from housing, stores, offices, industry, and more. All of this is done by spending the game’s currency of construction bricks.

Buildings Have Feelings Too|PC|Steam|BlackStaff|Merge Games|Maple Whispering

To improve a business’ status, it needs to increase approval rating by being near (or far away from) different resources produced by other businesses. For example, a grocery store may require local residents from an apartment, while a restaurant might need to be in close proximity to a fishmonger (but the stench may also put off home dwellers). Once a building has maxed approval, it can be upgraded to the next star level and players will receive new bricks.

It can be a little hard to predict which business produces necessary approval supply. The in-game progress tree will often hide future buildings that haven’t yet been revealed by the plot. Even with this foreknowledge, oftentimes players will get side tracked improving an obscure business to second or third rank because it is the only source of approval to the actual desired business. This gets even more complicated when said secondary buildings need additional tertiary or even quaternary buildings of their own.  

Buildings Have Feelings Too|PC|Steam|BlackStaff|Merge Games|Maple Whispering

By contrast, if a business falls too far into negative disapproval, a closure warning will appear directly above the building. This must be rectified quickly in real time, or a business will shut down, often costing bricks to reopen, repair, or demolish. What can make this frustrating is that the player avatar is large enough to block key user interface elements, leading to interacting with the wrong menu as the timer inches closer towards doom. Sometimes, multiple businesses will suddenly be at risk at the same time, or ones off screen may be in trouble. This can lead to a mad dash around multiple city blocks to stop cascading business failure.    

A major obstacle is that the plot central buildings will change their desired business as objectives are completed, even if their current business is vital to the stability of a neighborhood. In one case, the goal was to make an art deco building the best law firm possible. Once completed, they decided being a bank was instead much better. By instantly changing businesses, it caused the nearby accounting firms and restaurants to suddenly fall into disrepair as their lawyer clientele instantly vanished. It also cost brick supplies to then mend those broken businesses. To avoid this, players would need to preemptively know to make a second law firm and move it into the proper place before advancing the story mission.

Buildings Have Feelings Too|PC|Steam|BlackStaff|Merge Games|Maple Whispering

To make matters harder, several city blocks and entire neighborhoods are filled with problem buildings that either cannot be moved, contain a business that only causes negative effects, or both. This means players will need to plan or dance around these buildings, and possibly risk unexpected closures and brick expenses. Often, there are entire extra city blocks that can be unlocked with bricks, but it isn’t until players spend their currency that it is revealed what kind or how many unhelpful buildings are clogging up these new lots.

What might come as a shock is that instead of neighborhoods being standalone levels with individual brick supplies, the entire city shares a finite amount of bricks. This can be either good or catastrophic. On one hand, it incentivizes players to keep building up an old neighborhood to gain extra bricks that can be taken to the next location. However, while improbable, it is also possible to overspend on buildings or fines incurred from business closures and repairs, leading to a lack of funds way down the line. This means that players could be hours into Buildings Have Feelings Too, trying to complete the final nineth zone and realize too late that the entire game needs to be restarted. This is further compounded by the single slot auto save that makes choices and errors permanent.

Buildings Have Feelings Too|PC|Steam|BlackStaff|Merge Games|Maple Whispering

Buildings Have Feelings Too on PC very much acts like a console port. Keyboard controls feel awkward and unintuitive, while using the mouse can have unexpected behavior. For instance, one might click directly on the conversation prompt, only to go into a business menu. This is due to left click being completely mapped to the business while “E” must be pressed to speak. There is no option to rebind any keys and the user interface defaults to controller setup. Additionally, one should not save while moving a building as this can cause it to vanish on subsequent reloads. 

Overall, Buildings Have Feelings Too has an identity crisis. It at first tries to be a jovial city management game, but has too much emphasis on juggling approval scores, unpredictable consequences, and strict auto saving. The game would be much more enjoyable with standalone levels or a full sandbox mode rather than its current sprawling campaign. The game has some neat ideas, but due to poor execution never reaches beyond tedious.        

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Merge Games, Maple Whispering
Developer(s): Blackstaff Games
Genres: Simulation
Themes: City Builder, Fantasy,
Release Date: 2021-04-22

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