A spiritual successor to 2018’s wildly popular sandbox building simulator House Flipper, Castle Flipper attempts to bring the magic of that game’s relaxing renovation to a new medieval setting. Although the prospect of creating your own castles may appear appealing, an unfortunate reliance on boring objective-based missions, numerous underdeveloped mechanics, and a side order of woeful technical inadequacies squander all of the premise’s potential.
For its roughly two and a half hour runtime, Castle Flipper’s gameplay is split between a sandbox hub world, in which you can build properties to be rented out, and a series of thirteen more linear, objective based-missions which you accept by interacting with notes left on a nearby notice board. Each time you accept one of these tasks, the player is transported to a unique area with a small checklist of activities to perform. These range from simply cleaning up a house by interacting with various pieces of litter strewn throughout the location and cleaning up stains using a broom to replacing missing objects and repairing damaged furniture.
Not Quite the King of the Castle
Despite a small degree of variety in the environments, you encounter and subtle changes in the presentation of the various goals you perform, the core method of completion remain the same. You simply walk around a large, empty environment clicking on various things. Debris vanishes into the ether upon the single click, chairs and tables are repaired by a series of clicks and very occasionally you must select a tool or object from one of two submenus before clicking to use it on a predetermined, highlighted location. Whilst the apparent simplicity of this loop may sound somewhat therapeutic on paper, the persistently janky animations, frequent framerate stuttering when moving and generally drab aesthetic of each locale creates an overall experience that is far more sickeningly monotonous than it is ever enjoyably mindful.
There are also a number of secret chests littered throughout the game which can be found by venturing slightly off the beaten path of each map and contain gold. These moments of exploration can be occasionally interesting, but the reward never makes these brief detours seem worthwhile. Although you can spend your currency on purchasing materials to use in the construction mode, I never actually found myself needing to seek out these hidden chests as the generous cash rewards given for completing objectives and the supplies you can scavenge by dismantling other objects always proved a more than sufficient source of resources. For this reason, the small skill tree introduced early on, largely comprised of buffs that provide a percentage increase in cash earned, is almost entirely redundant. Arguably the only worthwhile skill is the very first one you unlock, which allows the player to highlight the location of uncompleted objectives, but it is wildly inconsistent and frequently fails to detect hard-to-find goals rendering it almost entirely useless.
On the building side of things, the player is granted a small selection of walls and decorative objects which they can deploy relatively freely to create thatched medieval homes. An hour or so into the game, you also gain a very restricted set of prefab blocks which can be built up into fairly samey castles. At first, these bouts of construction serve as a relief, being used to break up the repetitive missions, but soon the limited number of items available and erratic item placement controls become painful limitations on your creativity. The renting mechanics are similarly barebones with a small list of requirements required by each tenant which have to be met before they will move in. Building up your own community is a nice idea but the fact you never see the tenants, their rent money appearing mysteriously in a bowl outside each home, makes your kingdom feel entirely lifeless.
To make matters worse, load times are overly long throughout which eliminates any kind of joy you could have felt entering a new area. This is an issue that is particularly noticeable with the agonizingly slow first-time launch which takes well over two minutes. Aside from some admittedly excellent god-ray effects, Castle Flipper looks remarkably dated featuring muddy texture work and basic models with environmental objects that are frequently seen clipping through one another. Particle effects are basic and often completely inappropriate, with concrete objects often bursting into water droplets when hit with a hammer or metal basins which erupt with wood chips when damaged. There were also a handful of incorrectly scaled props that cropped up routinely throughout my playthrough but this has since been addressed with a patch.
Castle Flipper Review - In Dire Need of Renovation
The end result is a game that feels more like a very pre-alpha proof of concept rather than a full release. A tangible lack of polish and reliance on unenjoyable missions rather than embracing more open-ended creativity make for an experience with few redeeming qualities and one which is almost impossible to recommend even to die-hard fans of the simulator genre. Castle Flipper seems less like an official House Flipper spinoff and more like the work of cowboy builders.
TechRaptor reviewed Castle Flipper on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.
- An Intriguing Premise
- Fleeting Glimpses of Enjoyment to be Had
- Muddy Graphics and Repetitive Music
- Underdeveloped Mechanics and a Redundant Skill Tree
- Maps are Large, Lifeless and Empty