Build A Lot PC review

Lucy checks out another casual game that's determined to eat up your lunch hour. It might just be one for Theme Park/Hospital fans...

Having seen positive reviews for Build A Lot on casual gaming review websites such as Gamezebo, I thought I’d give it a whirl. In its favour, Build A Lot looks completely different to a lot of the modern casual games out there. But if you cast your mind back to the days of Theme Park and Theme Hospital etc, there’s not really an awful lot of difference, except of course these days, the graphics and sound are better.

Build A Lot casts you as a property developer, steadily progressing through several communities and improving them. Each community has its own theme, i.e. cold and snowy, wild west and so on, and most of your tasks are based around these themes. The aim of the game is to complete each task that you are set before the time runs out. If it does, you have to start again. Luckily, you don’t run out of lives or anything, you’ll just keep attempting the same level until you pass it.

As you may have guessed, the point of Build A Lot is to build, well, lots. At the beginning of each level you have a set amount of money, workers and materials, and you must pass each task you are set. Bigger houses require more materials and workers, but they also earn you lots more rent each payday. Once built, you can upgrade a house, and the more upgrades it has, the more cash it will earn you. So it pays to upgrade. But remember, when you’re upgrading houses, you won’t earn money if the work is still being completed on payday.

You start with basic houses which earn you a pittance, but when you start earning big bucks, you can purchase blueprints for bigger, posher houses which will soon see your bank balance increase.

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However, as with real life, the houses can develop faults – with the plumbing, electricity and so on. This is where your workers also come in. As well as building, they will repair your buildings. But if you own a workshop (and I recommend that you do) you can get your workers to do a property inspection, which will prevent the house from becoming damaged again. But be aware, if you inspect a property then upgrade it at a later date, it will remove the inspection and you’ll have to do it again if you want to protect it.

As well as homes, you’re encouraged to construct buildings, for example banks, workshops and sawmills, all of which help you out. A bank can earn you interest – but a nifty trick is to turn it into a charitable institution, pay your interest to charity and then you won’t pay any tax on your properties, saving you a bundle. Workshops mean you can train new workers at half the price, and also inspect your completed houses and protect them from damage. A sawmill will ensure you have cheaper materials, and they’ll be delivered more quickly.

Later in the game, these relatively uninteresting buildings will be joined by things like ice rinks and marinas. These won’t earn you any cash, but as they’re a requirement to pass the level, you will have to stump up the cash to buy the blueprint, and make sure you have enough workers and materials to get them built.

Not surprisingly, the levels get more difficult as you go along. I confess after getting stuck on one level for about five or six attempts (and some levels last about twenty minutes, possibly more!), I resorted to a walkthrough. Just for that level, mind, I didn’t want to ruin the rest of it for myself by making it too easy. After all, what’s the point in a game if it doesn’t present a challenge?

If you’re into casual games, I think you’ll find yourself becoming hooked on this one. I wouldn’t have been satisfied until I’d completed it. You can get a ‘star’ rating for each level by completing it in a certain time period. I got this on a handful of the easier levels – but as it got harder, I was nowhere near. So I suppose there’s an element of replay value if you want to go back and get a star on each level, which then unlocks a new building, but not for me. It’s each to their own, of course, but generally when I’ve completed a game – that’s it.

Overall, this is everything a casual game should be. It looks cute, it’s easy enough to get hang of easily but hard enough to keep you interested, and it’s good fun. I can think of many, many worse ways to while away a hell of a lot of hours, and this way, you can fool yourself into thinking you’re some bigwig property developer with millions in the bank. It’s a bit of a comedown as you shut the game down and realise you’re actually no better off, but hey, there’s always Build A Lot 2

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4 out of 5