Buildings Have Feelings Too! for PC review: A cute facelift for city-management games

Buildings Have Feelings Too! gives the city-management genre a fresh coat of paint by asking you to consider the wants and needs not of people, but of the city's buildings themselves.

Buildings Feelings Hero
(Image: © Merge Games)

Developed by Blackstaff Games and published by Merge (the folks behind Frostpunk, Cloudpunk, and many other indies), Buildings Have Feelings Too! has now released on Steam. A far cry from the big bads of management games like Age of Empires, Buildings Have Feelings Too! is a beautifully styled city-management/puzzle game where you take on the role of a lone little building helping breath new life into its surrounding neighborhoods.

Buildings Have Feelings Too! taps into a problem that most buildings must eventually face — becoming irrelevant. Not every building can be the Parthenon or the Great Pyramids, withstanding the test of time and reinventing themselves for the modern era. No, for the majority of buildings in this world, like warehouses, crumbling tenements, and mills, the ability to adapt can be an insurmountable task. And those that fail to adapt, get demolished.

This is how Buildings Have Feelings Too! sets its premise, with a small gathering of buildings down by the docks as they say goodbye to a friend who is mere moments away from the wrecking ball. Unable to move on from its original purpose, the stoic docks warehouse accepts its fate and goes to a grave of rubble. It's a pretty grim scene, but this tragic fate gives our "protagonist," who I'll just call Little Building, the motivation to start helping others reinvent themselves.

Buildings Have Feelings Too!: The Good

Buildings Feelings Add Business

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The look and feel of Buildings Have Feelings Too! are what may attract most gamers to this charming title. The concept is, frankly, adorable, and the execution is pulled off well. In making a city inhabited by personified buildings, one of the most crucial things you need to do is make those buildings feel truly alive. The way that buildings will blink their windows in place of eyes, rumble and grumble around when they're in motion, get upset if they're not in the right environment, and even produce smoke or smells dependent on their purpose make these architectural folks feel like little friends.

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CategoryBuildings Have Feelings Too!
TitleBuildings Have Feelings Too!
DeveloperBlackstaff Games
PublisherMerge Games
GenreCity management/puzzle
Minimum RequirementsWindows 7 or later, 2GB RAM
Game Size1GB
Play Time10+ hours
PlayersSingle Player
Launch Price$19.99

Functionally speaking, the gameplay is where Buildings Have Feelings Too! really starts to shine. Presented on a 2D side-scrolling plane reminiscent of a picture book, your goal in each neighborhood is to use a limited number of available spaces to place buildings and meet neighborhood objectives to optimize the area's appeal.

Let's say you're trying to create a financial district. First, you're going to need a couple of accounting firms. Once you've got your accountancies in place, you'll need to upgrade them by providing nearby resources for them to draw on. After all, even accountants need to eat, so you'll likely need a couple of cafes and some family housing to round out the block.

Figuring out how to place buildings in proximity to complementary businesses is where the real puzzle lies

Your objectives often determine which businesses you'll need and only certain building types have the proper permits to house specific businesses. You wouldn't build a warehouse to act as family housing, but you would use a residence building for just such a purpose. Once you've got your businesses in place, you then use informational attribute and appeal cards to determine what types of other establishments complement, or potentially hurt, the other business around them. Businesses will be affected only by those that are within a set range of spaces to themselves, so figuring out how to place your buildings in proximity to the right attributes is a huge piece of the puzzle here.

This balancing act can occasionally be frustrating, but by constructing, repurposing, demolishing, and even taking a building by the hand, you'll find that your districts start to take shape and fall into proper alignment. As you start to learn attributes and upgrade paths by heart, the speed of the game really starts to pick up, too.

Buildings Have Feelings Too!: The Bad

Buildings Feelings Too Closed

Source: Merge Games (Image credit: Source: Merge Games)

There were a couple of issues that I ran into while playing Buildings Have Feelings Too! and I honestly can't tell if they were just cases of my own stupidity or if I think other players would struggle as much as I did at first. I made it about an hour and a half into the game, barely even past the tutorial, and suddenly found myself stuck. Through my own poor planning, I had somehow managed to bleed myself dry of resources to the extent that I was unable to upgrade or build more establishments to dig myself out of my own grave.

It was bad enough that I actually started a new file, as I couldn't see a way out of the corner I'd backed myself into. The root of the problem here, at least in my opinion, is that the tutorial explains the state of "disrepair" in a confusing way. As I now understand it thanks to my second file, buildings that are placed in a spot that is too disadvantageous for them (near too much pollution or a rowdy pub, for example) will start to fall into disrepair. An alarming red circle will appear above the afflicted building, indicating that it's about to go under. If the red circle fills up before you're able to resolve whatever the problem is, the building will be unsalvagable and will close down.

The tutorials can be vague and occasionally don't come up in time for you to avoid certain problems.

You then need to either demolish this building entirely or repair it. Depending on the building type, repairs may be cheap or they could be pretty pricey. In my case, I couldn't figure out what the red circle even meant (I was encountering the state of disrepair before the tutorial got around to explaining it) or how I could fix it. In a panic, I got caught in a cycle of "building closes down, pay to repair it, it closes down again, more repair cost" and on and on until I just ran out of resources to keep going.

The game's tutorials are a bit opaque and sometimes simply don't pop up at a time when you actually need them. This could easily just be a "Me Problem™" though, so take this with a grain of salt. You may play through the initial stages and have no such issues like I did, so don't let my tale of woe stop you from giving Buildings Have Feelings Too! a try.

Buildings Have Feelings Too!: Should you play it?

Buildings Feelings Mongered

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If you're the kind of gamer that likes city management, urban planning, and/or puzzle games, you'll probably find something to like with Buildings Have Feelings Too! This indie is easy on the PC and would run well on most decent laptops on the market right now. It has a pleasing aesthetic, fun concept, and solid gameplay once you get the hang of it. With objectives for each area, plenty of room to improve and optimize each neighborhood, and achievements through Steam, you could easily surpass the 8-10 estimated minimum hours of playtime.

I found that, after my first snafu, I was spending about an hour per district messing around and getting things into a passable state. Perfection would likely take me much longer than that. There's a good variety of districts that you can unlock, world events to shake things up, and progressing eras of time that you can eventually work your way through. In short, Buildings Have Feelings Too! is a solid indie experience and I would recommend it to those who love to micromanage and fine-tune their setups.

Rachel Mogan