Between fast-paced action in online shooters, the cautious approach in tactical/strategy games, and the sheer enjoyment from dungeon-delving in RPGs, I tend to relax with a bit of city building as well. Management sims, such as Cities Skylines, Anno 1800, Tropico, and SimCity, tend to be passing interests that still manage to occupy my time. Enter Buildings Have Feelings Too, a new city-builder offering from Blackstaff Games. I thought it looked quirky and fun. Little did I know that it would be one of the buggiest releases I’ve played this year.
I saw a variety of bugs in Buildings Have Feelings Too. Some were fairly minor, yet others were game-breaking. I thought of possible workarounds, but to no avail. We were informed that two hotfixes would go live in time for the game’s release. Unfortunately, as of the time of this writing, only the first hotfix was available. Sadly, it didn’t actually do anything to remedy the issues which I’ll detail later.
Making friends with the neighborhood
In Buildings Have Feelings Too, you play as an old, rundown hotel that’s trying to grow the neighborhood. You’ll see several structures talking to each other, asking you for help, and looking for upgrades. Unlike most city-builders or management sims where you have a bird’s-eye view of the entire landscape, Buildings Have Feelings Too is more akin to a side-scroller with puzzle mechanics. You go back and forth the street, speaking to brick-and-mortar shops and shuffling them around.
While you’re doing these, you’ll try to find adjacency bonuses for buildings that are in close proximity in order to add to their appeal. In turn, attaining these requirements would unlock new structures or upgrades. Yes, you’re basically trying to make friends “with” the neighborhood since the establishments around you are the “people” that you need to manage.
We built this city
One example is how a residential apartment can exist on its own. But, to make it grow, you’ll need to surround it with a few grocery stores or bars. Meanwhile, there are factories such as linen mills or whiskey distilleries that provide extra resources for other upgrades, though they generate pollution that can lower appeal. There’s also a nifty building browser tab when you open the menu allowing you to see the new types that can be constructed.
As mentioned earlier, controlling your character simply has you going back and forth down a street. You highlight a building, check its upgrades, or move it around. This is where things begin to feel clunky. For one thing, Buildings Have Feelings Too has a very barebones option menu that doesn’t let you change the keybinds/button prompts or graphics settings. As such, it was a chore to use a mouse and keyboard setup, meaning your best bet is to use a gamepad.
Likewise, clicking on nodes/pips with your mouse to help with building placement doesn’t work. You’ll need to move your hotel around to get to the spot, make sure it’s highlighted, then plop down the building there. Since the goal is to group certain buildings close to each other for appeal bonuses, you’ll find yourself shuffling and reshuffling establishments often. The process does become tedious after a while.
Another issue is related to changing a building type or removing one completely. This is done by holding down on the d-pad to demolish a building. It’ll then get boarded up, allowing you to turn it into a different type of business or destroy it entirely. The problem is that this process is also janky. There are cases when you want to remove something, but you’re prompted if you wish to change the type of business instead. You then back out of that menu only to see that the demolition process wasn’t actually completed (even if that’s the command that you executed).
Buildings Have Feelings (and a lot of bugs) Too
Let’s face it, video games will often have bugs. The key factor to take note of is when they become too egregious that they’ll totally block your progress. The first few bugs that I noticed in Buildings Have Feelings Too were fairly minor but annoying nonetheless. One particular example would lock the menu while you’re checking the objectives or building browser. Your character can still move around, but you can’t close the menu at all. In another instance, you might see a glowing marker/exclamation point showing you an important objective. However, there’s actually nothing there and the marker just hovers around for a while.
Another might be more related to the actions the player could take prior to any tutorial tooltip that comes up. For instance, you could start demolishing or repairing buildings accidentally even though a tooltip that mentions these mechanics is yet to appear.
Then, we come to the really notorious ones that occurred early in my playthrough. For example, there was a specific building that I planned on demolishing. It then appeared boarded up and, when I attempted to execute the action, the game crashed. Those crashes occurred for the same building despite restarting the game.
Moreover, I noticed that after finishing all the tasks for a “quest” (if you can call it that), the main objective itself didn’t show up as completed. When the time came for me to move to a new area to progress further in the campaign, there was no such area for me to go to. I even reinstalled the game and replayed it only to experience the same problems.
Time to demolish the whole thing
We were informed that two hotfixes would arrive, one during the evening of April 21 and one on the morning of release on April 22. Naturally, fingers were crossed that some of the issues would get ironed out.
When I saw that the first hotfix was live, I started from the beginning until I reached the notoriously buggy area. Now, to be clear, one of the main objectives here is to turn the workhouse (a specific building that’s part of the story) into an accountancy firm followed by a law firm. Prior to this hotfix, I was able to do just that. After applying this hotfix, however, I couldn’t turn it into a law firm at all. That meant I was stuck again. Oh, and to make matters worse, Buildings Have Feelings Too uses an autosave system. Since you can’t have manual saves, your entire campaign is screwed when progress is saved during or after a game-breaking moment.
Mind you, this was only the first of two hotfixes (with the second one arriving on release day). Under normal circumstances, the cartoony graphics and comical design in this title should lead to a relaxing and casual romp. Unfortunately, when we consider how many game-breaking bugs I’ve encountered, how these fixes are coming in so late, and how I had to replay the campaign from the beginning three times already, it’s only fair to say that Buildings Have Feelings Too is one awful mess that has more stumbling blocks than building blocks.