Game: Builder Simulator
Developer: Live Motion Games
Releases: 2022 (PC)
Get ready for more Humble Choice, this time being released on the 2nd of the month. As usual, there are eight games on offer which you can all obtain for a reasonable price. But, as usual, the Blaugust Discord asks whether the products on offer are actually worth obtaining for the price … or worth playing at all. Here is a list of the games on offer for Humble Choice May 2023 with links to the blogs that tried playing them:
- Warhammer 40k: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters: UnwiseOwl from Leaflocker
- Spiritfarer: Naithin from Time to Loot
- Bendy and the Dark Revival: UltrViolet from Endgame Viable
- Operation Tango: Krikket from Nerd Girl Thoughts
- Windjammers 2: Paeroka from Nerdy Bookahs
- Builder Simulator: The very article you are reading right now.
- Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery: Magi from Indiecator
- The Invisible Hand: Paeroka from Nerdy Bookahs
As you can see, I decided to go with a simulation game again: “Builder Simulator”. The game describes itself as follows: “Builder Simulator is the perfect game for those who want to build a house, from the ground up, one brick at a time. On easy, the game will guide and teach you by showing you full instruction, but on hard you will get no help – instead rely on your builder skills and make everything yourself.” Weird for a simulation game to mention difficulty in its marketing text right away, but let’s see if can deliver on these promises.
Immediately after starting the game, I was staring at a menu screen that did not really tell me where to go as a new player. A “Continue” button is right at the top, but with nothing to continue from this seemed to be the wrong option. There is also “Load”, but again I had nothing to start from. So, I picked the second option in the list, which was “Game Mode”. Clicking this button opens up a variety of other options, one of which actually lists “Tutorial” alongside “Contracts”, “Sandbox”, “Interior Designer”, and “Planner”. There are twelve tutorials in total to work with, which try to explain you everything from the foundation up to the finished house and then even decorating those empty rooms. I could not stand listening to Bill Derr though. “Builder Simulator” does not simply explain things by text but wants to be quirky by having an annoying mascot character in form of a living cement mixer, and reading through reviews online I do not seem to be the only one who wants to silence that heap of junk.
So, instead of being bombared with meaningless dialogue from the mascot character, I decided to start with “Contracts”. Some company posted a job for another building firm, which just took the money and left. For that reason, they only want me to do the foundation and not the rest of the building, which is fair enough since this seems to be the tutorial of sorts and you need to start at the bottom to build a house. Bill Derr, who seems to fetch my jobs, tells me to get a shovel and get digging … and here is the very first hurdle of “Builder Simulator”. I look around, and while there is plenty of sand, gravel, cement, with a wheelbarrow and a concrete mixer right beside it I fail to find a shovel. So, I take a look at my surroundings, trying to figure out where a shovel could be, running through the sizeable amount wilderness that is honestly kinda pointless since I only need to work in a tiny space of it anyway. I have a “Minecraft”-like bar at the bottom that shows me ten empty spaces, so this cannot be the solution. At some point I decide to click myself through the buttons at my disposal to find out that the builder has all his tools, a sizeable amount to carry around, on his body at all time since the middle mouse button open a tool menu. Clearly not a good start.
Fast forward to contract number three and I am not only supposed to install doors and windows again, but also have to create new interior walls. For now, I am simply ignoring the fact that I would never want to live in a house that is basically three one-room apartments since you can only enter each room from outside. But I am asked to create such a building, which in case of the first wall works alright: Metal poles for stability, wooden walls on each side, some woolly material in the middle for insulation purposes, something I can get behind. The other side was much trickier: I found out that I had to put some foil onto the floor, but then had to rely on a video (with a guy struggling to figure that out as much as I did) which told me that I need to mix mortar outside, place it onto the foil, and then build the wall onto that. I happily admit that I have absolutely no idea when it comes to building houses, but “Building Simulator” does not make it easy to find out what is missing.
Cue the roof. There is really only one sort of roof in the game, so if you want something other than a tiled roof I guess I can only say “tough luck”, but building that one variant also comes with its fair share of problems. Buying one tile and then placing it will create an entire section of the roof in one fell swoop but due to how those things spawn I was left with tiny areas that I could hardly see because they did not stand out against the color of the roof with their shimmering orange. This meant another ten minutes down the drain searching for whatever the game did decide to hide from me since only 100% completion counts as a victory. Developers of “Builder Simulator”, this is exactly why so many simulation games decide to fill up the rest automatically after a certain amount being finished: It avoids player frustration.
Fast forward to contract seven, where I am allowed to build my first own building; a fact which Bill Derr happily announces to me. The result of said mission can be seen up top, a sore thumb of a building sticking out with the background of a small Italian village. This is the perfect example to show how little options on has to create buildings. Diagonal walls? Not possible. Deco elements like pillars or doorless transitions? Why would you want those? Woodwork in general? No, we use stone for everything. Combine this with facts like not being able to build secondary buildings like a garage in the freeform modes and you super restricted in what should have been a creative outlet rather than busywork resulting in one block of bricks. Contract eight out of ten was also where the entire thing stopped working for me: I had to place insulation onto a house in the middle of nowhere and plaster over it all; which I did. Every blinking spot was was covered with insulation, the walls on the outside and the inside were plastered, and everything inside was then drawn smooth since the contract asked me to that; and then nothing. No progress. I cannot see what is still missing even after running rounds around the house to find one last rough spot, so me playing the “Contract” mode ended rather abruptly.
But in order to test “Builder Simulator” fairly, I should at least take a peek at the modes I have not tried yet. “Planner”, as far as I understood it, just allows you to create and save blueprints which you can then use in the other two modes. You can then go into “Sandbox” mode and build whatever you have planned on a concept level and make it reality. But having built the exterior walls for an entire house by using mortar and bricks I know that creating an entire house will just be the same tedious work and clicking the mouse button to apply mortar and then choosing a brick to place onto it. Does not make me excited to build my own house in “Builder Simulator”. And then there is “Interior Designer”, which also asks you for a floor plan but creates the entire building for you so that you can just focus on decorating the building as you like. This is more or less a watered down version of “House Flipper” and not something I expected in a game called “Builder Simulator” since the team of required to build the house rarely does the furniture while they are at it. Also, the game seems to be rather picky when it comes to building my dream home, disallowing from placing doors at junctions of several walls to name one example; and if there is something wrong with the blueprint, you are not allowed to continue until it is fixed.
“Builder Simulator” really reminds me of when I picked up “Ship Graveyard Simulator“: An interesting concept that ultimately leaves me disappointed. I would like a lot more details, more freedom when it comes to designing and building houses, and less tedious work. If it is possible to plaster a ten meter long wall with the click of a button, why do I need to place every brick on its own? And who had the idea of making a minigame out of mortar appliance, with the option to the player of not playing it? Or why is the wheelbarrow an unsteerable spawn from hell? I mean, I chose “Builder Simulator” since I had hope that it could be another feather in the cap of simulation games, something to calm down with after work; but “Builder Simulator” is too tedious to be relaxing. Also, why is there no career mode to show my progress? I always have some fixed amount of money to work with but leaving out any progression means that it is even harder to get invested in what is happening in the game. Long story short, “Builder Simulator” might have been made with a solid idea in mind but shows various flaws in execution. The game is available on Steam for 19.50€ and obviously currently available as part of the Humble Choice for May 2023; but the price is too high for the product at hand and I would not recommend buying the bundle if “Builder Simulator” is what has gotten your interest.
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