Buildings Have Feelings Too! review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Merge Games
Developer: Blackstaff Games
Medium: Digital/Cartridge/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

Given the number of city-building/city management games on the Switch, it takes something special to really stand out. I mean, depending on how you define it, there?s Cities Skylines, Civilization VI, Tropico 6, Constructor Plus, Subara City, Project Highrise…the list goes on. Be generous with the definition, and you could throw in games like Two Point Hospital, Minecraft, Dragon Quest Builders 2, maybe even Animal Crossing. As I said, it?s a crowded genre.

So from that perspective, Buildings Have Feelings Too! stands out. While it, too, sees you building up a city, it does so from the perspective of the buildings themselves. As the title implies, your city is filled with sentient — and, truth be told, somewhat emotional — buildings, who have very strong feelings about where they?re located, what they?re used for, and what their neighbours are up to.

Unfortunately, as inventive as that premise is, little else in Buildings Have Feelings Too! is that fun or interesting. No matter how good the ideas are, there are lots of flaws, big and little, that add up to sink a game that could have been a lot of fun.

For starters, there?s the fact that the text here is all very small, and for some reason the developers decided it would be best if they surrounded the screen with a dark border.

This is bad because you?ll be doing a lot of reading in this game. As mentioned, the buildings have very strong feelings about everything, and they aren?t shy about telling you, so you?ll be asked to read that tiny font constantly. On top of that, the game loves to explain everything to you by way of text-heavy tutorials, so you?ll be reading even more.

Unfortunately, the tutorials aren?t always incredibly useful. Somehow, Buildings Have Feelings Too! Frequently finds a way to tell you a lot, without telling you much at all. You have to upgrade your buildings and your neighbourhoods, except it only tells you some of the time how you do that. For every moment where the game is very explicit in what you need to do to advance to the next level, there are just as many moments where it gives you a goal then doesn?t explain it at all. You?re left to play around with your city blocks, hoping you can figure out what, exactly, you?re supposed to be doing.

This, in turn, is a challenge, because the difficulty level here verges on unforgiving. You?re constantly earning new building blocks for achieving rewards, except the rewards for completing a task are generally dwarfed by the cost of having to undo a mistake. One wrongly placed building, and you can ruin an entire level, with no hope of redemption.

And it?s awfully easy to make a mistake, since the controls are so finicky. You constantly have to place buildings in just the right spot, except you have to very gently ease your focus down the street to do that, or else you?ll miss it by a spot and have to walk back and start over again.

What?s weird about Buildings Have Feelings Too!?s demanding nature is that it doesn?t seem to understand how demanding it is. Not only does it have the goofy premise, the city is filled with buildings that are constantly making jokes. Couple that with a smooth, breezy soundtrack, and the general vibe the game seems to be going for is totally at odds with the gameplay itself.

In an ideal world, Buildings Have Feelings Too! would have found a way to couple its inventive premise and fun aesthetic with equally enjoyable gameplay. As it stands, however, there?s just too great a disconnect between the two to make the game worth your while.

Merge Games provided us with a Buildings Have Feelings Too! Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-