Eye for Design Review

By Lisa Haasbroek |

If you’re going to remodel your home, it’s probably best to save up before you take on the kitchen. It’s reportedly the priciest room to upgrade. Depending on who you ask, a "minor" kitchen remodel can set you back a good $15,000! (I’m definitely in the wrong business.) If you love redesigning homes (and don’t want to spend a small fortune on your own), Eye for Design is an interior decorating themed simulation/puzzle game that might interest you.

Halle graduated from the most prestigious decoratory college in Paris, and she’s sure she knows her stuff when it comes to interior design. Now, she just has to convince her clientele of this mastery… With the help of Armand, her heavily-accented mentor, she sets out to build her reputation and achieve her goal of decorating the world-famous Lord Schmedly’s Manor.

In Eye for Design, it’s your job to consider each client’s personality and bring out the beauty in their homes with your sense of style. You’re in charge of decorating 52 different houses across 7 neighborhoods, with over 200 unique rooms. In each home, you must select, arrange, and colorize the furniture and accessories while being sure to meet the needs of the client.

There are three types of goals to meet in each round. Required goals are highlighted in orange, and include all items you must use in your room before you advance. Optional goals greatly increase your score, and are highlighted in blue. Hidden goals are revealed by listening carefully to the client briefing paragraph at the beginning, and may include certain colors or styles that your client favors, or special needs to keep in mind when designing their dream home.

In addition to these goals, you must also make the client happy. How happy he or she feels is demonstrated by your reputation score. Your reputation score increases as you meet and exceed goals, and can decrease if you make less desirable combinations. Filling up the reputation score is necessary to advance to the next level.

You can add a piece of furniture to a room by clicking and dragging it into position. There are various places in each room where a specific item can be settled, and these spots will appear as green blocks. Red blocks indicate potential spots which are currently filled by other objects.

A variety of color combinations are possible within your rooms, and these affect your score. Usually, sticking to two complimentary colors will earn more points than using just one solid color or a number of different colors. If you aren’t playing a limited move round (more on that later), it’s worth experimenting with these combinations to maximize your reputation score.

When you’ve met all required goals for a room, a doorway will appear. Don’t rush out just yet! If you want to unlock the bonus room for each home, you’ll first need to score a silver trophy or higher on all the other rooms. Try adding some accessories and adjusting the colors a bit to see how high you can go. Just be wary of clutter – you can have too much of a good thing.

If you make it to the bonus round, you be given one room in the house to design freestyle. The objects can go anywhere, and you can rotate them to fit the layout. You’re not given any feedback as you work, so you’ll have to use your knowledge of the client to help (ignore their stern faces in the corner).

As you advance, you’ll be given special challenges, like a "moves goal." On these boards, you are given a limited number of turns to complete a room. Everything counts, including color changes, and rearranging items you’ve already placed.

The music is fun, though its only one looping theme, and the art is well drawn and amusing in cartoon-style.

Despite being somewhat unique, Eye for Design does suffer from a few limiting flaws. For one, it can become very frustrating to find precisely the right spot to squish everything into each room. These homes are like something out of Mystery Case Files – just packed to the brim with… stuff. The player will often find that she must clear the room over and over until she can manage to meet all the goals, and you aren’t offered a hint function or any special help along the way. It often comes down to trial and error guesswork. It would be cool to see a sequel that focused more on the freestyle bonus rooms, where you aren’t as limited in how you must arrange the furniture.

If you’ve played Home Sweet Home, you’ll notice some similarities. Both games have you arranging furniture and listening to clients’ requests. However, while Home Sweet Home leans more towards time management tasks, Eye for Design can better be called a "space management" game. You spend lots of time trying to fit everything into cluttered, tiny little spaces. Neither will give you the same depth of home decor that you’ll find in The Sims, but Eye for Design makes a good attempt to reward good style sense, which is definitely something to look for in an interior design game.

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