Welcome to Coverage Club, the regular series where we shift our critical eye towards smaller games that deserve some attention. Each week, our editors select two titles and provide honest first impressions in the same style as our full reviews. Games can range from brand new titles hitting Early Access to older hidden gems that never got their due. No matter your preferences, you’re sure to find something off the beaten path here. This week we sell some houses in House Flipper, then we sell our sense of calm in Deep Sixed.
Covered by Samuel Guglielmo
If you’ve ever watched HGTV then you’re probably used to house flipping shows like Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, and Fixer Upper. Lord knows I am because my mom watches them obsessively. Well, now you can do it in video game form. Recently House Flipper released, allowing you to buy, renovate, and sell houses. Is the game worth playing, or does it need to be flipped as well?
House Flipper is basically broken into two parts. You’ll spend a good chunk of the game taking on cleaning jobs and cleaning up people’s houses. In this sense, the game is closer to Viscera Cleanup Detail than anything else. You’ll go around people’s disgusting homes to throw out trash, clean up dirt, fix broken appliances, and more. I really mean disgusting too, as people in this world apparently find it acceptable to just lay in beds of cockroaches like nothing is wrong.
In a really zen way, this is actually fun. The houses you clean clearly could be lovely, if anyone took care of them. Getting them back to their lovely state is hard work, but worth it. I could zone out while painting a room, and removing dirt from a window gave me a sense of satisfaction. It’s hard to state just exactly how weirdly fun this busy work is. As you clean things up you also earn skill points so you can become a better cleaner. Out of place? Maybe. Useful? Totally.
Then you find out that, as long as you get the job done, people don’t seem to care what happened to their house in the process. One guy asked me to build a wall slicing their room in two so they could give the other half to their daughter. So I did that. Then I knocked down all the walls between their room and the bathroom, erected a random wall in the middle of their living room, painted the kitchen highlighter yellow, and got paid three thousand dollars for it. Another guy asked me to clean his garage, so I picked up his car and dropped it off in his living room. It’s not in the garage, so the garage is clean! It changes the game from zen fun into kind of hilarious.
As fun as this is, I do wish the e-mails were a bit more descriptive on what they actually want you to do. More than once it felt like the e-mail description wasn’t actually accurate to the job. A guy asked me to install radiators in his house. Then when I got there the game also wanted me to install a washing machine and a sink, plus clean up another room. Why was none of this mentioned in the e-mail? The game is full of little weird translation quirks (“Just a moment to clean and all house will shine!”) so I’m more willing to chalk this one up to English not being the developer’s native language.
Once I had enough money I finally felt comfortable in buying a cheap house to flip. It’s not too much different from cleaning tasks, albeit I’m basically left to my own devices. No longer do I have to paint rooms a specific color, or install only what I am told to. It’s almost like a first person version of The Sims, letting me design and care for this house. The house really needed care too, as I’m pretty sure a homeless dude was camping out here and feeding his pet cockroaches. It took me an hour, but I finally got the house the way I wanted and managed to sell it for nearly twenty thousand dollars. Maybe I could have pulled more, but House Flipper let me successfully flip a house.
I had no clue I wanted House Flipper until I started playing it. Now I can’t imagine a world without House Flipper. Tranquil when I wanted it to be, hilarious when I needed it, this is honestly a contender for a true surprise in 2018. I don’t know if most people would love this game like I did. I honestly doubt it. I’m just so excited that something so weird can exist in gaming now.
House Flipper was played on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the developer.
Covered by Robert N. Adams
To paraphrase the opening of Star Trek, space is the final frontier. In Deep Sixed, the "final" part is strongly emphasized as you are very likely to die while flying the hunk of junk that is as much a starship as a floating mass of debris is a seaworthy boat.
Let's get this out of the way immediately: Deep Sixed is a game for masochists. If you've played notably "hard" games like Faster Than Light or Dwarf Fortress and thought, "You know what, I just wish this game were more unintuitive, unforgiving, and brutally challenging," then boy howdy is this the game for you!
The game opens with you learning that you've been conscripted to work at a private company following a minor error at your previous job managing orbital drones. Said error resulted in a goodly bit of damage to company property. As a result, Astra Interstellar Solutions has purchased your services as a convict to serve aboard an interstellar survey vessel. The vessel in question is held together with duct tape & hope and it feels like it was designed by somebody on drugs. Plural.
A typical mission in the game involves going to a section of the nebula you're charting, scanning the area, and completing the objective. One of the most immediate hazards you will face is space creatures that will try to attack your ship. You can fend them off with the ship's lasers through one of five viewing rooms that are placed in a ring around the ship. Targeting accuracy and laser damage can be adjusted by adding or removing power to the respective areas with consoles in each of the viewing rooms. Of course, the layout of each of these five rooms is different just so it can be all the more of a pain in the ass to quickly power up a laser when an enemy moves out of your field of fire.
When you're not under attack by aliens, something on the ship is breaking. I had attempted to launch a probe to retrieve some valuable minerals. Unfortunately, the probe console stated that it was no longer a slave. The ship's A.I. stated that the probe was warning that "the age of humanity is over" and that "the machine war is imminent". After connecting the A.I. to the probe communication system, the ship's computer talked the probe down and I got the job done. The A.I. then proceeded to malfunction due to a virus.
My first playthrough in the game was on Normal. This is not a regular game where "Normal" is the baseline, sane person difficulty. Normal difficulty has permadeath and you have to figure out how to repair systems by checking everything in the point & click interface and reading through a manual. After my first death, I switched to Easy difficulty and died in my first mission after a swarm of space creatures had completely wrecked my ship. I finally managed to make some headway on my third go, actually managing to properly complete a mission and return home safely.
I get hints of games like Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes in that the systems are deliberately unintuitive. You'll have to remember where exactly you left the Space Wrench in the ship's eight different storage areas so you can smack the hell out of a malfunctioning air vent before you suffocate. You may or may not also be under attack by space whales, and you can't jump away because your hyperdrive is misaligned.
Deep Sixed is a game where chaos is the norm. If you enjoy challenging titles that will test your patience, then this is the kind of game you would absolutely love. If you would prefer to fly around a happy little spaceship and explore cool stuff, stay far away from this title. This is not a game for the faint of heart.
Deep Sixed was played on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.
What do you think of this week’s Coverage Club selections? Do you know of an overlooked game that deserves another chance? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow our Steam Curator to keep up to date with all our reviews.