As someone who has spent the past several months and a considerable amount of money transforming an ugly plot of land into a backyard oasis, I was both repelled and intrigued by Garden Flipper. After all, real yard work is sweaty, dirty and labor intensive and finding and maintaining just the right plants and trees in harmonious balance is tricky. On the other hand, there is real satisfaction and artistry in crafting an aesthetically pleasing, low maintenance garden.
Garden Flipper is the second DLC for House Flipper, a rather relaxing game in which the player cleans up, redecorates and generally improves several decrepit, ugly-ass houses for resale and profit. Taking the game outside, Garden Flipper is a series of 17 gardens and yards that are all in serious need of attention, from simple weeding and mowing to more elaborate landscaping. involving adding structures, laying sod and planting trees and a wide selection of plants. Every part of the gardening process is at least passingly noted, from backfilling soil around a newly plated tree to laying sod in the right direction.
Garden Flipper adds hundreds of new items to the game, from greenhouses to yard tools, decorative items and hardscaping elements. The missions escalate in complexity and are relaxing to complete, save those times when a bug — a digital one, not the kind actually found in a garden — brings the sequence to a frustrating halt. There are a lot of challenges to complete along the way and it doesn’t take long to unlock access to most of what the expansion has to offer. Although there is no voice acting, the flavor text e-mails that set up each mission are entertaining and never take themselves seriously, keeping the lighthearted tone and sim-lite feel of House Flipper.
Like House Flipper, Garden Flipper isn’t a hardcore sim that’s going to train would-be designers or landscapers. It’s simply fun to play with the virtual tools and enjoy the results. Although there isn’t really a sandbox mode, you can use your own series of ever-improving homes as design playgrounds between missions. Even at the highest graphics settings, Garden Flipper looks less than amazing, but the game has a clean and pleasant art style that works well. The music is the definition of aural wallpaper and gets pretty repetitive.
Garden Flipper includes much more content than the previous Apocalypse DLC, which added some disaster-prep themed items, like fallout shelters and caches of canned goods. Both add-ons are gentle, relaxing and mindlessly entertaining but Garden Flipper checks in at nearly the same price as the base game and is not a standalone product, essentially doubling the cost of entry. Garden Flipper adds more stuff to play with and do but it isn’t a bug-free or significant upgrade from the original game. It’s fun but feels like it probably should have been there all along.