Given the continued popularity of interior design shows, it should come as no surprise that Home Sweet Home is receiving a sequel. Playing almost identically to its predecessor and emphasizing quantity over innovation, Home Sweet Home 2 is a fun but strictly by-the-numbers return to form, and one that’s beginning to lose its novelty value at that.
On the plus side, more is definitely the merrier here: Dee Ziner, Bill Dur and crew are back, only now, they’re packing over 500 customizable items from tables to cabinets, refrigerators, stoves, chairs and showers to choose from. In addition, unlocking the entire collection of goods on offer – which can be used to outfit your own personal space, or jazz up clients’ abodes – requires earning medals awarded for top-notch work.
As such, there’s plenty of replay value packed into the outing. Literally every scenario plays out slightly differently each time depending on how you configure objects and overall room layouts, with the immediate arsenal of available items dependent on how well you perform in past challenges. Thankfully, it bears noting that you can always revisit prior levels to pick up any goodies you might have missed.
Adopting an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude though, the setup has changed little from the previous outing. Once again, play is divided into two phases: Design and building. Starting out, you’re presented with a puzzle in the form of a description of the given client’s general character, ostensible desires and personality quirks. For example: A chicken wing magnate might prefer his walls and cabinetry lacquered in spicy oranges and reds, or a woman looking to curl up with a good book in the bath a tub, window and shelving.
Afterwards, provided a set budget and minimum quota of items to meet, you must then drag and drop furniture and accessories onto a 3D diagram of the room in question to construct each patron’s ideal layout. The more accurate your interpretation of their needs, and introduction of corresponding items, the more a client satisfaction meter rises. Once full, and if enough objects have been placed in the room, you’re awarded a score and the build phase can commence.
In this latter mode, you take control of a team of builders – specifically Goran, Brian and Liz – who must be picked up and dropped onto the outlines of highlighted objects to begin constructing them. (Furniture and accessories slowly color in the closer they draw to completion.) The catch being twofold, in that you must keep constant tabs on who’s assigned to what task, and maintain peak productivity levels by dragging either coffee or requested tools over to workers who need a quick pick-me-up or specific implement.
Meanwhile, time’s always ticking away, and it’s up to you – using either lone crew members or multiple parties to bang away faster on bigger goods or appliances – to finish the job before a set number of days runs out. Periodic injuries and the occasional need to remove trash also present additional challenges.
So far so good, except for one small point: What seemed so fresh and new last holiday season no longer has the benefit of that just-painted smell. Granted, we’re suitably impressed by the range of goods offered to choose from; multiple approaches that can be taken to completing each task; and ability to kit out custom rooms at your leisure and snap collectible photos for posterity.
But frankly, it’s a given that newcomers are going to eke way more enjoyment from the experience than returning vets, even provided fresh twists like the all-too-common need to strip existing rooms bare of patrons’ belongings before going all DIY on them.
Still, even alongside a few minor niggles – dropping workers on closely-located items can be a hit-or-miss proposition, client riddles remain mostly simple and one-dimensional – it’s hard to complain. Giving fans more of what they crave, Home Sweet Home 2 undoubtedly delivers the goods when compared with the average time management outing. We just hope that, should a third installment happen to grace casual game portals, creators Big Blue Bubble won’t be above giving the series a much-needed extreme makeover to keep curb appeal high.