by John Markley2
Dream House Days Review
Dream House Days is the most recent in Kairosoft’s long line of mobile management simulation games. This time, the player is given the task of managing an apartment complex and helping guide the lives of its residents, combining elements of business management and life simulation games. It carries on the formula of previous Kairosoft games with some new additions, to good effect.
The player must set up the layout of apartments and choose appropriate furnishings – furniture, appliances, decorations, and so on-to make them appealing places to live. Your options are initially limited, but as the game progresses and residents use existing furnishings you gain research points that give access to new ones. There are also items you can place in the hallways, which can not only improve the satisfaction of your but encourage them to get to know each other as well.
There’s a very large number of different furnishings, along with different types of floors or carpeting suited to particular types of rooms, so there’s a tremendous number of options. You can also create “Special Rooms” for added effects by putting particular furnishings together. Some of these are fairly intuitive (a toilet in a tiled room with a bathtub will be more appreciated than one in the middle of the kitchen) while others require some experimentation.
Each resident has their own traits and interests, along with a set of stats that develop according to their activities as they go about their lives. These can be influenced by their living space – bookshelves encourage greater intellect, a nice bathroom and kitchen benefits health, and so forth. These stats influence the jobs available to your residents, which in turn affects how much rent they can pay. Your tenants also sometimes turn to you for advice or encouragement, allowing you to further influence their path or help them become more successful. Residents have social lives and can get married, usually to a heretofore unseen character who then moves in, but sometimes to each other if the setup of your building encourages interaction and friendships.
The resulting combination of genres is quite successful. Like many Kairosoft games, the gameplay is easy to pick up and fairly intuitive while containing a surprising amount of depth. There are a huge number of possible layouts and combinations of furnishings for each apartment and each resident will interact with them according to their own particular traits. The game’s research system helps keep your apartment design options as a new player manageable and comprehensible by gradually increasing the number of options rather than dumping every possibility on you immediately.
The gradual progression of the game as you improve existing apartments, expand your building to add new apartments, and bring in new residents is quite enjoyable. It can be surprisingly satisfying to see your little virtual tenants develop and become successful over the years, or even to just watch them putter around the house enjoying the home you’ve made for them.
The game benefits greatly from its visual style, which is typical of Kairosft games – cute, colorful, and cartoony, with simple sprite-based graphics that look like a more polished version of something that might have come out in the 16-bit era. Everything has an infectiously upbeat and cheerful look to it and that mood pervades the whole experience, without that tone coming across as forced or crossing the line from sweet to sacharine, to very enjoyable effect. The game is just so unabashedly happy.
Unlike previous Kairosoft games, Dream House Days is based on a free-to-play model. Some in-game items and actions require not only in-game money but “tickets,” which can be purchased with real-life money. However, while they can make things easier or unlock certain options, you can quite thoroughly enjoy the game without spending any real money. In addition, many things bought with tickets are also awarded through in-game achievements, and the player also gets an ongoing supply of free tickets based on play time. There are also in-game ads, but they’re not obnoxious or intrusive – just a small bar at the bottom of the screen.
Dream House Days is great fun and strongly recommended for gamers interested in a light-hearted management/life sim, as well as anyone who’s a fan of past Kairosoft games. It would be well-worth buying even if it wasn’t free.
Summary: A fun, endearing, addictive, and surprisingly deep entry in the simulation genre.