Christmas is all but here! So have I got a festive lineup of Indies for you? Of course not. Just the usual mix of titles that have graced my gaming abode. Flipping houses, flipping balls and flipping hunting subs (and not on YouTube)

House Flipper 2

DEVELOPER: Frozen DistrictEmpyrean
PUBLISHER: Frozen District
Format: Steam
Price: £32.49

The original House Flipper came a bit our of nowhere to become one of the best simulator games around. It came across as a LOL meme type thing during a time when they were all the rage. But what came out was an excellent home renovation sim.

However, there were a few quirks that needed ironing out and a few features missing. Well developers Empyrean listened and got to work. The release of House Flipper 2 kind of said… “those things you wanted? Yeah here you go!”

The overall structure has a story that feels a lot more involved and the opening few hours do a great job of introducing the game’s mechanics. Whilst also showing off some of the improvements. Simple things like being able to scan a wall colour to get the right paint, same with tiles, patterns and even items. It streamlines tasks that were a little tedious in the original game.

Everything is just better. With one exception and that is painting. It feels more like a side-step rather than a forward one. Far from awful, but doesn’t feel like the improvement I would have hoped. But that is literally the only thing for me. Everything else is better, sleeker and more intuitive.

The best addition though is the ability to not only renovate existing properties, but to also build them from scratch. Whilst it is a shame that this is only available in sandbox mode and not the main one, I get it. If the building didn’t work properly, then to have it in the main part of the game, could ruin the experience. But overall I really like it and hope to see it expanded on with future DLC.

I think we will see some top quality support, as the first game had some really good DLC that added to the overall experience and added many hours to the initial package.

House Flipper 2 is one of the best ‘simulator’ titles you can play and you really should check it out and unleash your inner Claire Sweeney (Is that still a relevant reference?)

Pinball FX – Big Holiday Update DLC

DEVELOPER: Zen Studios
PUBLISHER: Zen Studios
Formats: Steam, Epic
Price: Free to Start | DLC £various

Just in time for the holiday season, Zen have released a bunch of new and legacy tables for your collection. Offering a mix of quality but all pretty worth additions.

Star Trek Pinball has three tables included which focus on the latest movies. Generations and Deep Space 9. Now I am not a fan of Star Trek by the way (which was evidenced by an obvious typo I had to correct at the start of this paragraph), but each table feels like it has plenty of content to appease fans of the show and films. What helps someone like myself though, is that the tables are fun to play and whilst not as good as the older real world tables, there is plenty of challenge to be had.

The Charity Pack offers up two Zen classics in Excalibur and Epic Quest. Both a solid tables that you’ve probably played many times if you’ve owned Zen or Pinball FX at any point over the past years. However, this pack offers those tables at a dicount for this iteration and helps preserve pinball history by donating 50% of the proceeds to the Project Pinball and 50% to the Budapest Pinball Museum.

Then you have both Game Night Pinball and Charlie Brown’s Christmas Pinball. Whilst these are solid too, they felt a bit lacking compared to the Star Trek and Zen Originals. Not bad as such, but just misses that something. Which is a shame, as I was really looking forward to Exploding Kittens, as I am a big fan of the table top game. Gloomhaven is the standout here, but it still doesn’t quite hit the heights.

Overall a decent but not quite essential package of tables. If you are just after something new to play around on, then these are worthwhile, but if you are dipping your toes in for the first time, there are many better packs to start with.

Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter

DEVELOPER: Iron Wolf Studio S.A.
PUBLISHER: Daedalic Entertainment
Format: Steam
Price: £25.99

Ever wanted to be the master and commander of your own naval unit? Ever wanted to channel your inner Sean Connery and hunt the Red October? Plus other such references to movies… something, something U-571./

Well now you can, thanks to Iron Wolf Studios’ World War II, Navel Combat sim Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter. A game where you take control of a Fletcher Class Destroyer and play your role in The Battle of the Atlantic!

Now, this may be a surprise to many, but I have never been a naval commander in real life, so I cannot compare this game to anything. But it sure feels like it is meticulous in recreating the feel of being at war on one of these massive war units.

Everything is done in a very manual and mechanical way and whilst there are shortcut keys to help you do some tasks, the game channels you into clicking and dragging on things to make things happen. You need to get a decent basic understanding of naval terms, how these vessels do combat, how they move, etc. Believe me when I say things get very hectic, very fast.

I wouldn’t say I am enjoying Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter, as I still feel very lost and overwhelmed, but then I don’t think I am the targer audience for this at all. But I can say it is a very well made game that has me wanting to learn more so I can go back with more knowledge at some point. One to check out if the subject interests you.

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