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Landlord's Super

Landlord’s Super is SO CLOSE to Being Something Super

After three years in early access, house building simulator Landlord’s Super is finally releasing into version 1.0 today. Giving players a huge level of freedom and being set in 1980s Northern England, this really is a game like no other. There’s so much to love here, but a distinct lack of polish and some really fiddly mechanics stops us enjoying the experience as much as we want to.

Landlord’s Super: The town of Sheffingham is incredible

Hailing from Northern England ourselves, it’s hard to play Landlord’s Super without a stupid grin plastered to our faces. Its purposefully rough-around-the-edges aesthetic has been designed to look like a VCR recording, with text and menus resembling the blocky lettering you’ll have seen on those old videos from your childhood. But it’s the location that really makes us smile: the town of Sheffingham – an amalgamation of Sheffield and Nottingham, surely – might be fictional but it feels incredibly familiar. We feel like we’ve seen those high-rise buildings in the background before, and if that canal bridge isn’t based on the one five minutes from our house we’ll eat our hat.

It may be a small area, but the open world of Landlord’s Super has been carefully considered, with much care and attention poured into every last detail. From the old-fashioned pub that feels like so many you’ve walked into over the course of your life – you can almost smell the stale beer emanating from the carpets – to the soul-sucking Job Centre, this really is quintessential Britain under the rule of Thatcher. It’s grim, it’s dismal, and it rains most of the time: just like the real thing. It’s utterly delightful in all its misery.

Landlord's Super

Too fiddly for its own good

Where Landlord’s Super starts to fall down, however, is when you get into the nitty-gritty of its building simulation gameplay. You see, you’ve just taken on an epic project: a dilapidated house that needs to be repaired. Everything from the foundations to its walls need to be fixed and rebuilt in order to make this a habitable home. And you’re going to have to do everything by hand. Mixing the cement, laying bricks one by one: it’s all down to you. On paper, it’s a tempting prospect, taking things one step beyond most building sim games. But in reality, it quickly becomes a frustrating nightmare and a serious test of your patience.

Nothing is handed to you in Landlord’s Super, and so you’ll have to beg, borrow or steal your way to getting hold of the materials you need. There’s a well-stocked hardware store, but you’ll first need to earn some money to be able to buy anything. That means getting a job: the easiest is becoming a dishwasher in the pub, earning a paltry £1.50 an hour. Hey, it’s something. We’re thankful that this is an automated process – one of the few in the game. You won’t need to wash the pots by hand, thankfully: simply turn up and wait for time to pass.

Landlord's Super

But everything else requires you to get knee-deep in the nitty-gritty. And thanks to the game’s fiddly and often unwieldy controls – whether you’re playing with a controller or keyboard and mouse – you’re likely to get frustrated long before your house is finished. Laying bricks and other materials, be it cement, roof tiles or wooden panels, is an exercise in tedium – and that’s providing things go well. You’re just as likely to encounter a bug or some other problem to stop you in your tracks.

Not quite ready for version 1.0

Unfortunately, we’ve encountered our fair share of bugs and jank while playing Landlord’s Super. Sure, the aesthetic of the game lends itself to some rough edges but there’s only so much we can forgive. When it comes to tasks that you can’t complete, forms you can’t fill in and objects that just won’t act as you’d expect them to, it really does affect your enjoyment of the game. It doesn’t take long for issues to start rearing their head, either: within the first hour or so of playing, we’d already encountered plenty.

It’s disappointing: after three years in early access, we expected Landlord’s Super to be in a better shape than it is now. It seems like many of the issues we encountered back in April 2020 still exist, and we’re not sure that the “equilibrium between engaging and frustrating” that we were looking for has really been reached. Yes, it is engaging, but there’s still too much frustration for us to really sink our teeth into Landlord’s Super. And it really is a shame, because its aesthetic and setting sings to our hearts like very few video games ever have.

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